In 1917, Lowell Thomas *16 left his teaching position at Princeton and took a film crew to Europe to cover the fighting for the U.S. War Department. His travels eventually took him to the Middle East, where he was among the first reporters to cover the exploits of T.E. Lawrence, the British captain later immortalized in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia.
Thomas, who would go on to become a prominent broadcaster on radio and television, presented his films, photos, and accounts in New York and London in 1919, helping to establish Lawrence’s legend and earning the young officer a seat at the table during the Cairo Conference of 1921, during which the British partitioned Palestine and established the borders of Iraq.
The interesting relationship between the journalist and the captain is the subject of a new online exhibit, “Creating History: Lowell Thomas and Lawrence of Arabia,” curated by Lola Van Wagenen of Clio Visualizing History, a Vermont-based nonprofit, and filmmaker Richard Moulton. The exhibit weaves compelling images and video with contributions from historians and experts to explore Thomas’ role in telling Lawrence’s story and Lawrence’s lasting influence in the Middle East, which continues to use many of the boundaries he helped to draw.