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Dorothy M. Crosland Papers

Identifier: MS001

  • Staff Only


Dorothy Murray Crosland served as librarian of Georgia Tech from 1927 until 1953, when she assumed the title of director of libraries, the position she held until her retirement in 1971. Her principal achievements during her long tenure were the construction of the Price Gilbert Memorial Library and Crosland Tower (previously Graduate Addition). She also played an instrumental role in the admission of women to Georgia Tech and in the development of a graduate program in information science. These papers include correspondence, memoranda, and subject files documenting her activities and influence at Georgia Tech.


  • 1917-1983 (bulk 1950-1971)
  • Majority of material found within 1950 - 1971


General Physical Description note

(28 document cases)

Restrictions: Access


Restrictions: Use

Permission to publish materials from this collection must be obtained from the Head of Archives and Special Collections.


11.2 Linear Feet

Scope and Contents

The Dorothy M. Crosland papers include correspondence, subject material, reports, memoranda, and a small amount of financial information documenting her long association with the Georgia Institute of Technology. While the bulk of the materials relate directly to the administration of the library, the papers reveal the many other responsibilities taken on by Crosland, both on campus and in the library profession.

SERIES 1. Biographical and Personal, 1917-1983 includes her High School Graduate Book, resumes, curriculum vitae, Who's Who entries, lists of publications, obituaries, and correspondence. With the exception of her graduate book, these items primarily document Crosland's professional activities and provide little insight into her personal life. Her Graduate Book consists of photographs, notes, correspondence, newspaper articles, and invitations Crosland kept during her graduate year (1920) at the Girls' High School in Atlanta. Correspondence and printed materials provide background on the commissioning and dedication of a portrait of Dorothy Murray Crosland by the library staff association.

SERIES 2. Library Administration, 1926-1976 has been further divided into three subseries: General Administrative, Price Gilbert Memorial Library, and Crosland Tower. These materials include correspondence, specifications, budgets, and annual reports. While all the materials in this collection relate to a certain extent to Georgia Tech's library, this series contains items pertaining exclusively to the management of the library and its facilities.

Subseries 1. General Administrative, 1926-1972 includes annual reports, budgets, correspondence, surveys, and other reports concerning the administration of the library throughout Crosland's period of leadership. A significant amount of material, primarily correspondence, documents gifts received by the library, including cash, memorial books, and gift books.

In this subseries as well as elsewhere in the collection, Crosland's support for her staff is evident. Because she sometimes had difficulty recruiting qualified staff, particularly in the 1930s and 1940s, Crosland persevered to guarantee adequate salaries, benefits, and other perks so that her staff members would stay at Georgia Tech. One particular staff member that Crosland sought to retain, Dale L. Barker, served as associate director for many years.

Subseries 2. Price Gilbert Memorial Library, 1935-1971 includes correspondence, specifications, reports, and printed material germane to the planning, financing, construction, and decoration of the Price Gilbert Memorial Library. Although the Price Gilbert Library opened in 1953, a new library had been needed by the institution for at least thirty years prior to its construction. Collecting data to illustrate the need for a new building, raising funds, and planning for the new building were the primary focus of Crosland's activities from the time she was appointed librarian. Her skills as a fundraiser and diplomat are well documented in these materials, as she single-handedly secured donations of funds and in-kind gifts to benefit the library. However, she also demonstrated her willingness to take risks to advance the library, occasionally clashing with the institution's administration. For additional information on the planning for the new library, researchers should also see correspondence with John E. Burchard located in the third series (Box 12, Folders 14-15).

A significant portion of the subseries also documents the funding, construction, and maintenance of two dedicated rooms, the Wilby Room and the Neely Room. Robert B. Wilby donated funds for the Wilby Room, which campus groups used as a meeting and conference facility. Frank and Rae Neely provided for the construction of the Neely Room to house the medal and rare book collections they donated.

Subseries 3. Crosland Tower, 1961-1976 includes correspondence, blueprints, specifications, schedules of furniture and equipment, and reports documenting the planning and construction of an addition to the Price Gilbert Memorial Library in the late 1960s. Dedicated in 1968 as the Graduate Addition, it was renamed the Crosland Tower in honor of the former director of libraries in 1985. Materials in this subseries, specifically the lengthy schedules of furniture and equipment, illustrate the bureaucracy endemic in expending public funds at a state institution.

SERIES 3. Office Files, 1922-1974 includes correspondence, subject material, and printed material documenting Crosland's professional activities both on the Georgia Tech campus and in the larger library community. The high respect many held for Crosland is illustrated in the breadth of her correspondents. She counted among her friends the directors of prominent university libraries, including William Dix, Julian Boyd, and W. S. Hoole. Following Crosland's original filing scheme, the correspondence is in most cases organized according to the name of the person's institution or university rather than by personal names, due primarily to the fact that Crosland outlasted many of her colleagues at other institutions. During her tenure at Tech, she may have corresponded with three or more library directors at another institution.

The correspondence also documents her interaction with Georgia Tech departments and administration, association with regional and national library association, recruitment and hiring of staff, and fundraising activities. At times, her frustration at being unable to accomplish her goals is obvious; for example, in a 1954 letter to President Blake Van Leer, she offers to resign.

Among Crosland's frequent or notable correspondents were: President Marion L. Brittain,Price Gilbert, Jr.,George Griffin,Frank H. Neely,William Gilmer Perry,Hazard E. Reeves,Dean Rusk,Richard Russell,Herman Talmadge, and Blake Van Leer.

Prior to the construction of the Student Center, the library served as a social gathering place as well as a research center. With financial assistance from the Georgia Tech Club of New York and Hazard Reeves, a music listening room for students and faculty was established at the Price Gilbert Library. In all her correspondence, Crosland's pride in Georgia Tech, its alumni, and the Price Gilbert Memorial Library is apparent. She was also proud of being a Georgian, and rankled if anyone denigrated her native state or city. In this series as in elsewhere in the collection, lacking is insight into Crosland's personal life and the day-to-day operations of the library.

Biography of Dorothy M. Crosland

Dorothy Murray Crosland was born on September 13, 1903 in Stone Mountain, Georgia, the daughter of Robert and Lena Jones Murray. She graduated from Girls' High School in Atlanta in 1920 and earned her library degree in 1923 from the Library School of the Carnegie Library of Atlanta (later Emory University School of Library Science).

After completing her education, she worked as an assistant cataloger and branch librarian at the Carnegie Library (nowAtlanta-Fulton Public Library). In 1925, she became assistant librarian at the Georgia Institute of Technology, serving as acting librarian during Frances Newman's leaves of absence. She was appointed librarian in 1927, a position she held until 1953 when her title was changed to director of libraries. She retired from Georgia Tech in 1971.

Crosland belonged to numerous professional organizations and received many honors. In 1945, she was named Atlanta's Woman of the Year in Education, and in 1969, was named Woman of the Year in Professions. Georgia Tech made her an honorary alumna in 1961, and in 1962, the library staff association and friends presented an oil portrait of Crosland to the library. The governor proclaimed April 13, 1971 as Dorothy M. Crosland Day.

Through her work at Georgia Tech and in the library community, she earned a national reputation. She actively participated as a member and frequently officer of both local and national library associations. She served as executive secretary (1950-1952) and president (1952-1954) of the Southeastern Library Association and president of the Georgia Library Association (1949-1951). As a member of the Association of College and Research Libraries,she served on the following committees: program planning, serials, nominating, organizing, organization and management, engineering section, building, and foundation grants, acting as chair of the latter three committees. She was also a trustee for local organizations, including the Atlanta Historical Society,Atlanta Art Association, and the Atlanta Library Club.

Crosland assumed responsibility for building the library's collection, determined that it should rival those of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other leading technological institutes. In 1946, she made a purchasing trip to Europe, visiting rare book dealers and university libraries, where she acquired rare and out-of-print books. She also made frequent trips to rare book dealers in New York and cultivated contacts around the world so that duplicate and discarded books would be offered to Tech.

During her long tenure at Georgia Tech, she acquired many responsibilities beyond those directly related to library administration. Her skill at acquiring in-kind donations from textile and furniture manufacturers enabled Tech to beautify many of its buildings with custom draperies, carpeting, and furnishings. In addition, as a licensed interior decorator - though she worked only for Tech - she received discounts at retail establishments. Buying gifts for faculty and staff celebrating anniversaries with Tech and occasionally acting as hostess at social functions were among her other responsibilities.

Crosland was instrumental in the founding of a graduate program in information science (now the College of Computing) in 1963. She also played a key role in securing the admission of women to Georgia Tech. At President Blake Van Leer's request, she surveyed colleges and universities to determine which offered engineering and architecture degrees to women. Discovering that Georgia was the only state that did not have a private or public engineering or architecture school for women, she wrote a persuasive letter to Rutherford Ellis, Education Committee chair for the Board of Regents, urging them to permit women to attend Tech. As a result, Georgia Tech admitted its first women students. Crosland also became responsible for furnishing and decorating the women's dorm, then a house on Fifth Street.

She married James Henley Crosland,who worked for Norfolk Southern Railway, on August 18, 1928. They had one daughter, Dorothy Evelyn Crosland, born September 13, 1934. Dorothy Evelyn Crosland married Ben Daugherty in November 1955 and they had four children. Dorothy Murray Crosland died on March 24, 1983 in Monroe, Georgia.


Arranged into three series:

Missing Title

  1. SERIES 1. Biographical and Personal, 1919-1983 [Box 1 and Box 28]
  2. SERIES 2. Library Administration, 1926-1976 [Boxes 1-8]
  3. SERIES 3. Office Files, 1922-1974 [Boxes 8-27]

Personal and biographical materials are arranged in the first series. The second series, Library Administration, has been divided into three subseries: General Administrative, Price Gilbert Memorial Library, and Crosland Tower, and includes materials pertaining directly and exclusively to the library. Within each subseries, materials are arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Office files comprise the third and largest series and are also arranged alphabetically by folder title, generally the name of the correspondent, organization, or subject. At the beginning of some alphabetical runs is a folder of general correspondence labeled with a single letter (e.g., "A"). Communication with infrequent correspondents may be found there.

This organization approximates a previous arrangement scheme. Unfortunately, the papers have been arranged on several occasions, so original order could not be discerned. However, in many cases, the correspondent's name or institutional affiliation is underlined in red, suggesting the original file scheme devised by Crosland or her secretaries.

Other Finding Aids

A print copy of this finding aid is available in the Georgia Tech Archives reading room.


The Director of the Libraries' office transferred these papers to the Archives in 1975. Accession #1984.0601 (old number: 84-06-01). In 2017, Crosland`s Graduate Book was added. Accession #2005-053

Separated Material

Laura Hammond Papers were separated and cataloged as MS159. Graham Roberts Papers were also separated. Previous processors removed minutes of committee meetings and photographs to other collections within the archives.

General Physical Description note

(28 document cases)

Processing Information

Susan J. Illis processed these papers in 2000. Amanda Domingues added box #28 with Crosland`s Graduate Book in 2017.

Inventory of the Dorothy M. Crosland Papers, 1917-1983 (bulk 1950-1971)
Susan J. Illis; Amanda Domingues
2000; updated 2017
Description rules
Finding Aid Updated Using Rlg Best Practice Guidelines For Encoded Archival Description
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, Library, Georgia Institute of Technology Repository

Georgia Institute of Technology
266 4th Street, NW
Atlanta 30332-0900 USA