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Ella May Thornton Papers

Collection number: ahc.MSS206

Scope and Content

This collection contains personal documents of Miss Thornton’s, as well as material that reflected some of her interests later in life. Included are report cards from the Georgia Capital Female College and Conservatory of Music in 1890-1891, her passport from 1935, and a citation from the Atlanta Library Club upon her retirement in 1954. Other material consists of hand-written correspondence, newspaper clippings, genealogical records, and pamphlets that documented her interests in the Gate City Guard of Atlanta, genealogy of Atlanta families, the statue atop the Georgia State Capitol, the Atlanta Y.M.C.A., and miniature models of cities such as Atlanta. Other notable items include a signed thank-you letter from Princess Elizabeth of Great Britain in 1948, and correspondence and newspaper clippings that document her recollections of a recording by her friend, musician Graham Jackson, and a visit with Eleanor Roosevelt.


  • 1890-1973, undated (bulk 1947-1968)


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. All requests to publish, quote, or reproduce must be submitted through the Kenan Research Center.

Administrative/Biographical History

Ella May Thornton (1885-1971) was born on April 28, 1885 in Atlanta, Georgia. Her father was Eugene H. Thornton, a veteran of the Confederate Army, and later a banker, and president of the Atlanta Young Men’s Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.). Miss Thornton never married and had no children. She graduated from Atlanta Carnegie Library School in 1909, and began her career as a librarian with the state library in Atlanta that same year. She became assistant librarian in 1919 and state librarian in 1926. She retired in 1954. Miss Thornton was a former president of the National Association of State Libraries, and served on the board of the Georgia Historical Commission from 1926-1931. She contributed to professional journals, and in 1941 wrote “Georgia Women: 1840-1940, A Record of Achievement.” She was the first professionally trained librarian to hold the office of State Librarian in Georgia, and one of the few professionally trained state librarians in the nation


0.25 linear ft.



System of Arrangement

This collection is arranged alphabetically according to titles supplied by staff.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Ella May Thornton, 1966 (1966.024, 1966.034); 1968 (1968.029, 1968.035); Gift of Georgia Department of Archives and History, 1983 (1983.139)

General Physical Description note

Extent: .25 linear ft. (1 half document case)

Description Control

Processed in 2007

Ella May Thornton Papers: ahc.MSS 206
An Inventory of Her Papers at the Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center
Inventory prepared by Paul Crater
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center Repository

130 West Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta GA 30305