Thomas returned to America where his soon-completed travelogue opened at the Century Theater in New York on March 2nd, 1919. His popular performances soon moved to Madison Square Garden where he impressed British impresario Percy Burton who arraigned for Thomas to travel to Great Britain to perform at the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden in London. By this time Thomas had taken what was originally a series of travelogues also concerning the Italian Front and the German Revolution and combined the most popular two — creating “With Allenby in Palestine and With Lawrence in Arabia” which soon became an enormous hit. The travelogue regularly packed first Covent Garden, then capacious Royal Albert Hall as well as Philharmonic Hall and Queen's Hall through the end of the year. Thomas's performances drew enthusiastic audiences from all over the British Empire including countless notables from the Royal Family and the Prime Minister to Allenby and Lawrence themselves. Thomas then took his travelogue on tour through Australia and New Zealand while his associate Dale Carnegie performed the lecture throughout Canada. Keen to build upon his early success, Thomas returned through Malaya, Burma and India where he and Chase gathered material to create “Through Romantic India” which buttressed his notoriety into a steady travelogue business.
Lowell Thomas's early travelogues were only the cusp of a career full of remarkable successes. He soon began writing the first of his 56 published books and began following attempts at pioneer air travel around the world, traveling tens of thousands of miles. In the late 1920s he began to settle down, buying the Cover Brook Farm in Quaker Hill near Pawling, New York and regulating himself to the traditional national lecture circuit. In 1930 he began his regular Radio show, “Lowell Thomas and the News,” which broadcasted on both CBS and NBC and lasted for almost five decades before going off the air in 1976. Thomas also became the voice of Fox Movietone News which became the medium through which Americans saw world events throughout the 1930s and 1940s.
In 1949 Thomas became one of the few Westerners to reach Tibet where Thomas and his son, Lowell Jr. became the first to film the Dali Lama. Thomas was injured on the return journey and had to be carried back through the Himalayas on a stretcher. The Thomas party was the last to enter Tibet before the invasion of Communist China later that year. Thomas also cofounded Capital Cities Communication which purchased ABC in 1985. Thomas continued to be active into his later years, continually skiing and recording radio and television broadcasts until his death in 1981 at the age of 89.
The Lowell Thomas Papers were donated to Marist by the Thomas family in 2006. The processing and preservation of the collection was completed in October of 2009 with the help of a grant from the National Archives and Record Administration's Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). The Lowell Thomas Papers are now housed at the Marist College Archives & Special Collections, located in the basement of the James A. Cannavino Library on campus. Many of the collection's images and objects have been digitized due to an additional grant from the NHPRC and are available online at library.marist.edu/archives/LTP/LTP.xml.
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