University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

Annabel Murray U. S. Coast Guard SPARS Collection, 1937-1946

Creator Thomas, Lillian Annabel Murray, 1912-2008
Title: Annabel Murray U. S. Coast Guard SPARS collection
Dates: 1937-1946
Abstract: Scrapbooks, newspapers and clippings, pamphlets, books, photographs, recruiting material, postcards, soldiers' songbooks, church programs, correspondence, U. S. Naval Training School material, a logbook, office supplies, and a CD compose the Annabel Murray U. S. Coast Guard SPARS Collection, 1937-1946. The collection documents the history of the SPARS, particularly Murray's experience as a recruiting officer in Connecticut, New York, Florida, Austin, San Antonio, and Seattle.
Identification: urn:taro:utexas.cah.03105
Extent: 3 linear feet
Language: Materials are written in English.
Repository: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

Biographical Note

U. S. Coast Guard SPARS lieutenant Lillian Annabel Murray Thomas (1912-2008) was born in Austin, Texas, a daughter of R. V. and Jesse Murray. She attended Austin High School, graduating in 1929, and later the University of Texas (UT), where in 1935 she earned a BA in Journalism and an MA in 1940. A lover of music, Murray studied voice at the Institute of Musical Art in New York City immediately following high school, and later spent a summer at Julliard in 1936.

During World War II, Murray served for more than two years with the SPARS, the third women's service branch of the U. S. Coast Guard that was created in 1942 to release men from jobs at shore so they could fight overseas. It was the Dean of Women at UT, Murray believed, who initiated her enlistment with the SPARS. Murray became one of the first group of 13 enrollees, where she served from 1943-1946, speaking at numerous war bond drives and working as a recruitment officer in several locations across the U. S., including Austin; New London, Connecticut; New York; Palm Beach, Florida; San Antonio; and Seattle, Washington. Among the highlights of her career was a two-week war bond tour through the Northwest with prizefighter and Coast Guard officer Jack Dempsey.

Once the war ended, Murray resided in Austin, initially teaching journalism and later working as an interviewer of applicants for G. I. loans at a local bank. Through an introduction from a friend at work, she met her husband, Tommy Thomas. They were married in 1947 and had two daughters, Margaret and Frances.

Murray died in 2008 and is buried in Pflugerville, Texas.


Engelbrecht, Margaret. "Annabel's History." April 2006.

Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home. "Memorial Obituary Lillian Annabel Murray Thomas." Accessed October 27, 2011.

Scope and Contents

Scrapbooks, newspapers and clippings, pamphlets, books, photographs, recruiting material, postcards, soldiers' songbooks, church programs, correspondence, U. S. Naval Training School material, a logbook, office supplies, and a CD compose the Annabel Murray U. S. Coast Guard SPARS Collection, 1937-1946, documenting the history of the SPARS, particularly Murray's experience as a recruiting officer in Connecticut, New York, Florida, Austin, San Antonio, and Seattle.

The scrapbooks (July 5, 1943- May 2, 1944) contain photographs of SPARS, a typed Merry Christmas letter written by Murray to prospective SPARS, articles from the American-Statesman, Austin American, Corpus Christi Times, Dallas News, San Antonio Express, and several other news publications throughout Texas, highlighting information on recruitment, training, travel, events and activities, as well as some articles featuring Murray, including one on her being assigned to SPAR recruitment duty in the Austin area. Newspapers and clippings (February 8, 1943-October 21, 1945) cover similar topics as those in the scrapbooks, and additionally include publications outside of Texas, such as the Palm Beach Sun and The Seattle Times. Pamphlets contain information promoting enlistment to the U. S. Coast Guard, particularly the SPARS branch. Books (1939-1945), some inscribed by Murray, cover topics such as leadership, women soldiers, and issues concerning the U. S. Coast guards and military life. Photographs (1944-1945) capture SPARS at events, in group shots, Murray with Jack Dempsey, and a three-quarter-length formal portrait of Murray in her SPAR uniform. Recruiting material, composed of posters, cards, stickers, and stamps, promote enlistment to the SPARS through catchy slogans and advertisements for enlistment cruises. Postcards, mostly blank, are of women in uniform, and scenic and architectural views of places where Murray was stationed, including Austin, Palm Beach, and Seattle. Soldiers' songbooks are comprised of many popular hymns and songs, including "You're a Grand Old Flag, "God Bless America," and "This is My Country." Additionally included are the official Coast Guard marching song, and the official song of the United States Army Air Corps. Church programs (1943-1945) are from the University Christian Church in Seattle, and the Sunday morning worship service for the U. S. Coast Guard training station in Palm Beach, presumably when Murray was stationed in these locations. Correspondence (1943-1944) is composed of photostats of letters written by Murray's mother to family members informing them of her daughter's acceptance as one of the first officers of the SPARS, and two letters addressed to Murray from the War Chest regarding her participation in speaking engagements. Other correspondence includes official orders to Murray, particularly while she was stationed in Seattle. U. S. Training School materials consist of numerous documents from the facility located in the Bronx, New York, including orders from commanding officers, assignments, and lists of soldiers with their religious orientation, and billet and service numbers. Murray's logbook (July 1, 1943-May 12, 1994) notes activities, articles published on SPARS, applicant information, test scores, and enlistments. Office supplies consist of three SPARS pencils, and Murray's personal insignia stamp. Lastly, the collection includes a compact disc of SPARS World War II, University of Texas home movies (1937-1945).


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no use restrictions on this collection. Publisher is responsible for complying with copyright law.

Index Terms

Personal Names
Dempsey, Jack, 1895-1983
Thomas, Lillian Annabel Murray, 1912-2008
Corporate Names
United States. Coast Guard
United States. Coast Guard. Women's Reserve
Military participation--Female
Women soldiers
World War (1939-1945)
Palm Beach
San Antonio
United States

Separated Material

Some material has been separated to the Material Culture and Library units.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Annabel Murray U. S. Coast Guard SPARS Collection, 1937-1946, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Maria Soscia, October 2011. Subsequent revisions by Colleen Hobbs, October 2019.

Accession Number


OCLC Number


Detailed Description of the Collection


2.325/D24f July 5, 1943- May 2, 1944
July 26, 1943-March 9, 1944
2.325/OD10 Vogue (featuring an article of women in uniform), May 15, 1943
Map of Seattle
4ZF39 [SRH1230033063] Three SPARS pencils
Annabel Murray's insignia stamp
Article on wearing a red feather for the War and Community Chest campaign, and three envelopes of red feathers, October 9, 1944-October 25, 1944
Official reproduced photographs of combat and U. S. Army and U.S. Navy planes
Pamphlet of images entitled Vancouver: The Pacific Gateway of Canada
Package of 10 scenic photographs of Victoria to Vancouver
Postcards (mostly blank)
4ZF39 [SRH1230033063] SPARS, August 7, 1944-August 27, 1944
United States Coast Guard, enlistment cruises, swearing-in ceremonies, ships, Jack Dempsey and Annabel Murray, including printout with descriptions of each image, June 26, 1944 -March 19, 1945
Three-quarter length portrait of Annabel Murray in SPARS uniform
SPARS recruiting advertisements
4ZF39 [SRH1230033063] Stamps
Cards for upcoming recruiting cruises, July 23-August 27
Poster negative
Annabel Murray business cards
Newspapers and clippings, February 8, 1943-October 21, 1945
Conning Tower, New York Naval Training School, Bronx, New York
4ZF39 [SRH1230033063] Vol. I, No 3, April 1943 (5 copies)
Vol. I, No 4, May 1943 (2 copies)
Vol. I, No 5, May 1943
U. S. Naval Training School, Bronx, New York
4ZF39 [SRH1230033063] Documents from commanding officer on orders, transfer, and travel, February 16, 1943-March 22, 1943
Transportation bulletin
SPARS detachment to Bloomington, Indiana
Uniform regulations, March 20, 1943-March 26, 1943
Short sea terms, January 30, 1943
Lists of officers by platoon, with billet and service number, and religion
Home addresses of women officers
Personnel Bulletin, with personnel change forms, March 13, 1943
Training instructions for officers in charge, and other instructional documents, April 9, 1943-April 12, 1943, undated
Assignments, April 20, 1943-April 28, 1943
Transportation bulletin, April 12, 1943
Medical discharges
Other documents
Church programs
4ZF39 [SRH1230033063] Palm Beach Florida, June 6, 1943
Seattle, Washington, September 17, 1944, July 29, 1945
SPARS recruiting station Seattle, Washington, blank letterhead and documents
Seattle maps and guides
Jumbo postcards from Seattle (blank)
Documents concerning Annabel Murray while stationed in Seattle
4ZF39 [SRH1230033063] Appointment letter to lieutenant, May 1, 1945
Acceptance letter for appointment as lieutenant, March 2, 1946
Application for leave of absence, November 27, 1943
Orders and travel, June 20, 1944-November 30, 1944
New assignment, orders, travel, June 27, 1943
Orders, transfer, travel, February 5, 1943
Travel expense vouchers, October 28, 1944, November 22 1944
Other documents, 1944
Photostat of orders from commanding officer to Annabel Murray, January 18, 1943, February 5, 1943
Information on Red Cross surgical dressing class at the Driskill Hotel, Austin
Allocation and Distribution of American Red Cross Gifts
CD of SPARS World War II, UT home movies, 1937-1945
Photostats of correspondence, January 9, 1943-February 4, 1944
Captain McAfee's talk on education
Outlines of talks, 1944
March Menu for Toffenetti's restaurant, New York
Handwritten notes on "attitudes of returning veterans" and other topics
Soldiers' songbooks
Pamphlets, November 1942 - August 1945, undated
Desk Calendar, 1944
Pocket size New Testament
What the Citizen Should Know about the Coast Guard, 1941
4ZF40 [SRH1230033064] Running Light, 1942-1943
Policies for the Administration of the Women's Reserve, 1945
Women in the War…for the Final Push to Victory
All Hands: The Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin, December 1945
List of Regular and Reserve Commissioned and Warrant Officers on Active Duty in Order of Precedence and Temporary Members of the Reserve, June 30, 1944
The United States Coast Guard: It's History, Vessels, and Doctrine
Yachting, May 1943
Naval Leadership, 1939
The Bluejackets Manual, 1940
Annabel Murray's Logbook, July 1, 1943- May 12, 1944