Skip to main content

Tom and Bula Charles family papers

Identifier: Ms-0018

Scope and Content

The papers of Tom and Bula Charles date from 1898-1969. Most of the items,especially the research files, are the creation of Bula Charles, who assumed many of her husband's interests after his death. The papers have been divided into four series: Correspondence, General files, Research files and Photographs.

Among the correspondence is a folder of letters (1926-1931) concerning the establishment of White Sands National Monument. Significant correspondents include H. L. Kent; Herbert Hyrisk, editor of Farm and Home; Senators Holm B. Bursum and Sam G. Bratton; A. N. Blazer; P. H. Homer; C. L. Sonnichsen; A. B. Fall; Governor Arthur Seligman; and Dennis Chavez.

General files include newspaper clippings, principally concerning the Charles family from 1936-1962. Also included are galley sheets from Tales of the Tularosa and More Tales of the Tularosa, notes, copies of news articles, story typescripts and speech drafts. Additional materials include forms and documents from Bula Charles's term as U. S. Commissioner for the District Court of New Mexico.

Most of the collection is comprised of research files containing news, story drafts, clipping and various notes. Folder headings include: Air Force; Alamogordo; Rev. Albert W. Braun; the Butterfield Trail; Dog Canyon; El Paso; Family History; Forest Service; Insurance; Indians; Kalmuk People; Lincoln County; New Mexico History; Newsletter; Otero County Electric Co-op; Pioneers; Prehistoric New Mexico; Eugene Manlove Rhodes; Soil Conservation; Three Rivers; Tularosa; Visually Handicapped; White Oaks; and White Sands. Of particular interest is a folder on the Fountain murder.

Photographs fall into many of the same subject groupings as the research files. A number are unidentified.


  • 1898 - 1969

Access and Use Restrictions

This material may be examined by researchers under supervised conditions in the Search Room.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with copyright and other applicable statutes.

The copyrights possessed in this collection by Ward Charles have been transferred and assigned to New Mexico State University.

Biographical Sketch

Tom Charles was born circa 1875 in Kansas. He grew up there, graduating from Kansas State University in 1897. Charles served as editor of the Belleville newspaper until 1907, when he homesteaded near White Sands, New Mexico. It was then that he became interested in creating a National Monument in the area. He coordinated the efforts of the Alamogordo Chambers of Commerce to establish White Sands as a National Monument. Charles was appointed the first custodian of the monument following its 1933 founding. In 1935 he initiated "Play Day," an annual event allowing visitors to enjoy the beauty of White Sands.

Charles was in the insurance business from 1917 until his death in 1943. He served as president of the Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce. Charles was also interested in road improvement and wrote several articles on the subject.

Bula Charles (1887-1974), formerly Bula Ward, also came from Belleville, Kansas. She wrote short articles for the Belleville newspaper, including "How the Cows Paid for the Farm" and "What the Radio is Doing for the Farmer." She married Tom Charles in 1907 and moved with him to New Mexico. The couple raised six children.

Bula Charles assisted her husband in the insurance business that he founded in 1917 and continued it after his death. In 1927 she was elected vice president of the New Mexico Federation of Women's Club, and served a two-year term as president. She was a board member for the New Mexico School for the Visually Handicapped for twelve years.

After her husbands death in 1943, Bula Charles completed a book that he had begun, Tales of the Tularosa. It was published in 1953. Bula Charles was named outstanding woman writer of the year, receiving the Zia Award from the New Mexico Press Woman's Association.

Bula Charles was a correspondent for the El Paso Times and Associated Press for 31 years. She was appointed United States Commissioner by Judge Colin Neblett, and served her community in numerous other capacities, such as state chairman for Easter Seals in 1961. She died May 11, 1974.


4.00 linear feet (1,881 items)

Language of Materials



Known as the "Father of White Sands" for his efforts in designating White Sands, New Mexico, a national monument, Charles was an Alamogordo insurance salesman. His wife, Bula, was a journalist and United States Commissioner for the District Court of New Mexico. The collection contains correspondence, including a folder relating to White Sands; clippings; galley pages; speech material; newspaper articles; and items from Bula Charles's tenure as a U.S. Commissioner for the Mescalero Apaches. Research files for various newspaper articles are also included.

Processing Information

Processed by Margaret Thwaits, July 1976. Revised by Marah deMeule and Christine Moreland, October 1999. Updated by William B. Boehm, October 2005.
Guide to the Tom and Bula Charles family papers
Margaret Thwaits, July 1976. Revised by Marah deMeule and Christine Moreland, October 1999. Updated by William B. Boehm, October 2005.
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Repository Details

Part of the New Mexico State University Library Archives and Special Collections Repository

Branson Hall
PO Box 30006
MSC 3475
Las Cruces New Mexico 88003 USA