The Handbook of Texas is free-to-use thanks to the support of readers like you. Support the Handbook today.

Font size: A / A reset

McGann, Thomas Francis (1920–1982)

Amanda Oren Biography

Thomas F. McGann, historian, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1920. He graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree from Harvard in 1941 and then completed his master of arts degree in 1949 and his Ph.D. in 1952, also at Harvard. He taught at Harvard from 1949 to 1958. During World War II McGann was assistant naval attaché to American embassies in Lima, Peru, and Buenos Aires, Argentina. He subsequently served in the naval reserve until 1976, when he resigned as a captain in the Naval Intelligence branch. In 1958 McGann accepted a position at the University of Texas. In 1961 he was appointed a professor of history. He had visiting professorships at Stanford, Columbia, the Naval War College, and the Air Force Academy. He wrote two books, Argentina, the United States, and the Inter-American System (1957) and Argentina: The Divided Land (1966). He edited Portrait of Spain: British and American Accounts of Spain in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (1963), coedited The New World Looks at Its History (1963) and Buenos Aires: 400 Years (1982), and translated José L. Romero's A History of Argentine Political Thought (1963). McGann also published many articles and book reviews in leading journals. He served as the editor of the Latin American Research Review for five years and was on the board of editors for the Hispanic American Historical Review. He also served on many committees for the American Historical Association. At the University of Texas he was acting chairman of the Department of History, chairman of the Graduate Studies Committee for the Department of History, chairman of the Board of Faculty Advisors of the University of Texas Press, and chairman of the Publications Committee of the Institute of Latin American Studies Association. His role in these last two positions led to the development of the university's reputation as a publisher of books in Latin-American studies. McGann directed twenty-six dissertations, nine of which were published, and twenty-three master's theses. He was nominated as the outstanding graduate teacher at the University of Texas in the spring of 1982 and was elected president of the Conference on Latin American History. He was a member of the Texas Institute of Letters. He also served as the United States national member on the Commission on History of the Pan American Institute of Letters and as the United States national member on the Commission on History of the Pan American Institute of Geography and History. After a long fight with leukemia, he died on April 18, 1982. A memorial observance was held in September 1982. He was survived by his wife, Dorothy, and their four children.

Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


  • Education
  • Educators
  • Social Sciences

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Amanda Oren, “McGann, Thomas Francis,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 26, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.