Beijing in the Snow


On September 3, 1930, Col. John W. Thomason arrived in Beijing, China to take a position as a commanding officer of a machine gun company within the United States Legation Guard. The Legation Quarter, which was created in 1861, was the area of Beijing that housed several nations’ diplomatic officers. The area had its own banks, hotels, stores, and security forces, as well as a baseball diamond and polo grounds. The area was independent of Chinese control and approximated a defended military zone.


Thomason would spend 3 years in China. He documented his time through his drawings and photographs. Many of these photographs capture the Legation and its inhabitants during the winter months. These photographs show members of the United States Legation Guard marching in formation in the snow.

We are currently digitizing the John W. Thomason collection, so hopefully we will have more pictures to show you in the future.


They will see us waving from such great heights



This work comes from the drawings of John W. Thomason, author, illustrator, and marine. Newton Gresham Library houses over 2,000 pieces including a number of drawings related to John W. Thomason’s life as a marine.

See the original here: Marine riding camel

See the whole (non-gif) collection at : John W. Thomason drawings

John W. Thomason in China


As a colonel in the United States Marines, John W. Thomason, a former Huntsville, TX resident, traveled all over the world. When not performing his military duties, Thomason explored his passion for drawing. He used every opportunity to draw and capture what he saw around him. He would draw on whatever he could find: paper, napkins, or scraps. He would even draw on his own drawings! These drawings are just a small sample of his artwork found in the John W. Thomason collection which has over 1,600 pieces. The individual illustrations presented above and below document Thomason’s time stationed at the Legation in Peking in the 1930s as he documented the China horse marines in his sketches during his time as the commander of the 38th Company in China.

SHHX_1557p1 (Men_with_fur_hat)shhx_0555p1-chinese_soldier_on_hors