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Dr. Thomas William Hoffer Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 2008-024

Scope and Contents

The Thomas William Hoffer Papers consists of a wide variety of personal and professional materials created and collected by this prolific and creative educator. Personal papers are organized into correspondence with friends and colleagues, research files for his Norman Baker M.A. Thesis and Vietnam dissertation, materials related to the operations of the Franklin County Chronicle, family files, and military activities.

Professional files are organized into correspondence and subject files, parts of which give researchers particular insight into film studies at FSU before the establishment of the university's film school; professional writings, particularly materials used in developing his animation publication, teaching materials on documentary film making, research files, and student files. There is an extensive collection of audiocassettes and videotapes documenting his teaching and research activities as an instructor at Florida State University, and recordings of speakers at various events and meetings of the Franklin County Commission on such topics as aquaculture and other environmental issues that impacted the growth of Franklin County, FL.

Within his teaching materials are a large set of card index files to Variety and Motion Picture World his students compiled as a project to study the history of film making in the United States.

Online Copies Available

Select materials from the Hoffer Papers have been digitized and are available through the FSU Digital Library.


  • Created: 1920-2005


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to all researchers. Users may access boxes 1-181 at the Special Collections Research Center, and Boxes 182-397 at the Claude Pepper Library.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to quote, publish, broadcast or otherwise reproduce from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Associate Dean for Special Collections and Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Florida State University Libraries as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

Biographical or Historical Information

Dr. Thomas William Hoffer was born on May 31, 1938, in Toledo, Iowa, the son of Martin H. and Margaret K. (Plum) Hoffer. Hoffer attended Toledo High School, graduating in 1955. Later that year, he enrolled at the State University of Iowa, where he earned his B.A. in 1960. Following his college graduation, Hoffer briefly worked at WITI-TV, a Milwaukee, WI television station, from 1960 to 1961.

In 1961, Hoffer enrolled in Officer Candidate School in Newport, RI. Later year, he was stationed at the US Naval Base at Yokosuka Bay, Japan. Hoffer served on the USS Bon Homme Richard, nicknamed the "Bonnie Dick." On board, Hoffer served in the Communications Department from 1961 to 1963; he also became part of the newly re-structured US Naval Communications State at Yokosuka. He was promoted to Lieutenant (junior grade), served in the Pacific from 1961 until 1964, and retired from active duty in order to enroll at the University of Wisconsin, Madison (Hoffer remained in the Naval Reserves for several more years). His service during that time included an assignment in Vietnam. He received the Vietnam Service Medal and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, and was honorably discharged at the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

Hoffer retired from active duty in 1964, but remained a member of the US Naval Reserve Program, assigned to the Ninth Naval District in Great Lakes, Illinois. He served two weeks of active duty in 1968 aboard the USS Wright, while still in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, as a Radio-Television Officer and was eventually promoted to Lieutenant Commander and Supply Officer.

Hoffer attended the University of Wisconsin in 1964, where he earned a Masters Degree in Speech Communication in 1969. His M.A. thesis was "Norman Baker and American Broadcasting." Hoffer continued his doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin, focusing on film and mass communication. He majored in Communication Arts, and minored in Journalism. Hoffer completed his doctorate in 1972. From 1972 until his retirement in 1996, Hoffer was a professor in the Department of Communication at Florida State University (FSU). He was particularly interested in mass media, photojournalism, and documentary film, and taught classes in documentary film making before the establishment of the FSU Film School. When he retired in 1996, he became the founding publisher of The Franklin Chronicle, a local newspaper distributed in Franklin, Gulf, and Wakulla counties. He died in Tallahassee on December 9, 2006.


172.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Professional and personal files of Dr. Thomas William Hoffer, documenting his prolific and creative activities in animation studies, broadcasting, communication education, and documentary production.

Method of Acquisition

The Hoffer Papers were acquired by Deed of Gift from Gary Heald and Richard Alan Nelson, Hoffer's executors.

Existence and Location of Originals

Portions of collection available online?: No

Related Materials

Thomas William Hoffer. (1969). Norman Baker and American Broadcasting (thesis).

Hoffer Florida Primary collection, Special Collections & Archives, Florida State University Libraries, Tallahassee, Florida.

Wilkinson Collection on Thomas Hoffer, MSS 2021-004, Special Collections & Archives, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida.

Selected issues of the Franklin County Chronicle and Franklin Chronicle are accessible through the University of Florida Digital Collections: Franklin County Chronicle, 1992-1996: Franklin Chronicle, 1994-2008:

Processing Information

Processed by Claude Pepper Library staff, Summer 2009-Fall 2010.

Dr. Thomas William Hoffer Papers
Burt Altman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the FSU Special Collections & Archives Repository

116 Honors Way
PO Box 3062047
Tallahassee FL 32306-2047 US