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The Tom Bigler Papers, 1970-2005

Identifier: 03-41-004

Scope and Content

The Tom Bigler Papers,1970-2005, contain a variety of materials that span over the course of Mr. Bigler’s time here at Wilkes University as well as some materials from some of speeches and on-air editorials he gave during his professional career in broadcasting and media. The documents within the collection consist of students course work from the classes he taught and other Wilkes related materials, emails/fax and memos pertaining to information about all the committees he was apart of, information about the work in the community he was involved it, newspaper clippings, photographs, speeches, plans and blueprints for the development of libraries and the future of Wilkes. All of the information provided is either handwritten from Bigler or original copies and print of emails, memos, faxes as well as original documentation for all his community affairs.


  • 1970-2005


Access: Open for Research.


Most documents are in good condition. Some of his education notes by hand have some tears due to their size and the placing of them in incorrect sized folders. For the most part everything is good and legible.

Biographical Sketch:

Thomas Bigler was an extraordinary man whose life spanned many key events around the world and his contributions and service are nothing short of spectacular. In his lifetime, Bigler worked with five radio stations, three television stations, a newspaper, became an influential professor at Wilkes University and served his country in World War Two. Bigler was born on June 4, 1921 in Tarentum Pennsylvania, a small town located northeast of Pittsburgh. His family relocated to the Hazleton area, where he graduated high school in 1939 and began his college education in the fall of ‘39 at Ithaca College. He attended college from 1939 to 1941 eventually graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Wilkes University in 1993. His broadcasting career began in 1939 as a part time announcer for WAZL radio station in Hazleton, he then enlisted in 1942 to the United States Air Force where he served as a pilot flying over India and Indochina, once he service was up he came back home and returned to the broadcasting career he left behind and worked for several different stations as both an announcer and news director. In 1948, Mr. Bigler became news director for WILK-AM radio, and added the title of program director in 1953. He was also able to transition his radio career to television becoming the station’s news director until 1962. In 1962 he began with a new station WNEP-TV for a few years before transitioning to another station in 1966. WBRE-TV was where Bigler spent most of his broadcasting career, working for 2 decades as News Director and Vice President for News and Public Affairs. During his time at WBRE-TV Bigler was absurdly influential in regards to a variety of technological changes, covering major stories and daily on-air editorials. In addition, he was also a regular columnist for the Times Leader for many years. Eventually, retiring in 1986 from his broadcasting career, Bigler was bound for a new career path, thus his tenure at Wilkes University (then Wilkes College) began. In 1986, Bigler came to Wilkes College and became a professor and the Chairman of the Communications department. He taught courses in communications, journalism, and ethics. He also oversaw the Wilkes University student newspaper, The Beacon and started an annual high school journalism conference. Retiring from teaching in 2001, Bigler’s legacy would live on with the naming of the journalism conference after him in his honor and service for he did for aspiring, young students with interests in communications and media fields. In the midst of all this, Bigler managed to find the time to serve the community of Luzerne County and other local citizens. Bigler was able to serve on numerous committees and boards including the following, Osterhout Free Public Library; Family Service Association, Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce, Ethics Institute of NEPA, and was co- founder of Leadership Wilkes-Barre. Thomas Bigler was a man of service, whether it was for his community, university, followers or his country. Until his death in 2007, Bigler spent his life providing service to others. He served the people with his work in the broadcasting industry delivering news and became a role model to his students in the field of communications, media and journalism.


12 boxes (9 whole boxes, 3 half boxes)

Language of Materials



The Wilkes University Archives obtained these materials on August 28, 2013 found in cabinets in Capin Hall.

Copyright Status

Copyright: Anyone can read or obtain copies of any of the materials for research purposes but if anyone wants to quote directly from the materials, they must obtain copyright permission from Wilkes University Archives.

Further References:

Processed By:

Michael Patrizio, Archives Intern, Fall 2020. Supervised and edited by Suzanna Calev, Archivist.

Series Description

This collection is arranged into 3 series: The first one is School and Education at Wilkes University, 1986-2005 (Box 1-4). The second one is Community and Politics in Luzerne County, 1987-1997 (Box 5-11). The third and final series is his Speeches, 1970-1991 (Box 12). The division of content into these series makes it easier to find out information pertaining to the different aspects of Bigler’s career.

Series I: School and Education at Wilkes University, 1986-2005

The School and Education at Wilkes University, 1986-2005 series (Boxes 1-4) contains all the information related to Tom Bigler during his tenure at Wilkes University. Information within the series includes information regarding the future of Wilkes, with plans and ideas, countless faculty memos and meetings. It has multiple student papers and information regarding the classes he taught and student work. It also has notes from those classes and one can see how Bigler developed as a professor. Concluding the series with information pertaining to the expansion of the Wilkes University library.

Series II: Community and Politics in Luzerne County, 1987-1997

The Community and Politics in Luzerne County, 1987-1997 series (Boxes 5-11) contains all the work and information Bigler did and was a part of with the community of Wilkes Barre and Luzerne County. within this series contains information regarding the County Study Group and his service to the community. As well as his work the Family Service Association. His involvement with the Ethics institution of Northeast Pennsylvania as he spent most of his professional career in the works with ethics. His involvement in the renovating the Osterhout Public Library in Wilkes Barre is some of his more notable contributions to the community along with his hand in politics in the area during the ‘90s. wrapping up the series with a letter of congratulations from the the House of Representatives in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on his retirement and all his contributions to the community and the state of Pennsylvania.

Series III: Speeches, 1970-1991

The Speeches, 1970-1991 series (Box 12) contains prominent speeches Tom Bigler gave over the course of his career prior to Wilkes University and during his time at Wilkes. Speech content varies over the course of the years. There are speeches that have to deal with his service within the community, those pertaining to the courses he taught, political speeches, as well as an independent research project speech.
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Repository Details

Part of the Wilkes University Archives Repository

84 W South St.
Wilkes-Barre PA 18701 US
570-408-7823 (Fax)