Ella May Thornton Papers
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Ella May Thornton Papers

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Atlanta History Center
Creator: Thornton, Ella May, 1885-
Title: Ella May Thornton Papers
Dates: 1890-1973, undated (bulk 1947-1968)
Quantity: 0.25 linear ft.
Quantity: Extent: .25 linear ft. (1 half document case)
Identification: ahc.MSS206

Biographical/Historical Note

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

Scope and Content Note

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.


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

Index Terms

Atlanta Library Club (Atlanta, Ga.)
Authors, American--Georgia--Atlanta
Campbell family
Gate City Club (Atlanta, Ga.)
Georgia Capital Female College and Conservatory of Music (Atlanta, Ga.)
McCormick family
Prather, John Smith, 1837-1920
Report cards--Georgia--Atlanta
Thornton, Ella May, 1885-

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Ella May Thornton Papers, MSS 206, Kenan Research Center, Atlanta History Center

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)

Description Control

Processed in 2007


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.

Container List




11Articles, 1937, undated
2Atlanta Library Club Citation, Circa 1954
3Correspondence, 1966-1968, undated
4Gate City Guard, 1966
5Genealogical Material, Campbell, McCormick and Prather families, 1968, undated
6Georgia Capital College and Conservancy of Music, 1890- 1891
7Gift of commemorative china to Princess Elizabeth, 1947- 1948, 1965, undated
8History of the Atlanta Y.M.C.A., 1968
9Manny, Robert, 1966
10Models of Towns, 1959-1967
11Passport, 1935
12Statue atop Georgia State Capitol, 1970-1973