Earl A. Thornton Papers
Scope and Content
The Earl A. Thornton Papers contain research files, personal notes, audio recordings, videocassettes, photographs, and publications on the fields of aviation, aeronautics, and aerospace. The research files include files on individuals and subject files, as well as publications. Additional materials include reproduction airplane blueprints, press reports about missiles and satellites, and a poster depicting the history of air travel.
Individuals listed include: Sir George Cayley, Octave Chanute, William Samuel Henson and John Stringfellow, Frederick W. Lanchester, S.P. Langley, Otto Lilienthal, Charles Matthews Manly, Charles Fayette Taylor, Theodore von Karman, Edward P. Warner, Francis Herbert Wenham, Wilbur and Orville Wright, Pearl I. Young, and Alfred F. Zahm. Topics include: Aerodynamics, Aeronautical Education Development, Aviation Progress, Challenger Launch Decision, Development of Aircraft Structures, The Evolution of Aircraft Design, Metal Airplane Construction, Propulsion, Structures History, Trusses, Wilbur Wright Memorial Lectures, and Wing Spars and Beam Columns.
- 1885 - 2000
Language of Materials
The material in the collection is in English.
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use
The copyright status of this collection is unknown. Copyright restrictions may apply. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining the use of these materials.
Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: http://bit.ly/scuareproduction. Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: http://bit.ly/scuapublication. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives (firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.
Earl Arthur Thornton was born to Dora Weatherly Thornton and John S. Thornton in 1936. He has a brother, John S. Thornton, Jr. and a sister Elizabeth Thornton Gardner. He is married to Margaret Thornton and resides in Virginia.
Thornton graduated from Virginia Tech with a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1959. Thornton went on to the University of Illinois to complete his Master's degree in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics before returning to Virginia Tech for a doctoral degree in Mechanical Engineering. Thornton graduated from Virginia Tech in 1968 and joined the professoriate. Thornton served at Old Dominion University (1969-1986), was a visiting scholar at the University of Texas (1987-88), and worked at the University of Virginia (1989-1999) until his retirement on May 24, 1999. Afterwards, he returned to Virginia Tech as a visiting professor in the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics in 2000.
Thornton authored books on thermal structures and the finite element method and is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets. Thornton is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).
"RESOLUTIONS ADOPTED BY THE BOARD OF VISITORS, March 26-27, 1999", University of Virginia Board of Visitors, http://www.virginia.edu/bov/meetings/99mar/resolutionminutes.html, on The Internet Archive, https://web.archive.org/web/20160905002526/www.virginia.edu/bov/meetings/99mar/resolutionminutes.html, accessed June 21, 2023
"DORA WEATHERLY THORNTON HANNAH", Tyrrell Tides, Vol. 10, No. 2, Feb. 2004, http://www.johnowens.info/TyrrellNews/feb2004.htm, the Internet Archive at https://web.archive.org/web/20110308152306/www.johnowens.info/TyrrellNews/feb2004.htm, accessed June 21, 2023
5.7 Cubic Feet (11 boxes)
The collection includes research files, personal notes, audio recordings, videocassettes, photographs, and publications collected by engineer and professor Earl A. Thornton on the fields of aviation, aeronautics, and aerospace.
The collection is arranged in three series, based on material type:
Series I: Publications, 1933-1997, is divided into two subseries based on material type.
Subseries A: Conference Publications, 1981-1994, contains materials published from conferences held at various NASA facilities and at the Thermal Structures conference held at the University of Virginia, as well as a short course from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. This subseries is arranged chronologically.
Subseries B: Other Publications, 1933-1997, contains books, senate hearing transcripts, training programs, journals, and magazines. This subseries is arranged chronologically.
Series II: Research Files, 1885-1997, is divided into two subseries based on subject.
Subseries A: Files on Individuals, n.d., contains articles, pamphlets, and biographical information on individuals who had an impact on the fields of aviation and/or aeronautical or aerospace engineering and design. This subseries is arranged alphabetically by individual's last name.
Subseries B: Subject Files, 1978, 1989, n.d., contain research, articles, and reports on topics related to the field of aviation and aeronautical engineering. The original folder titles were used. This subseries is arranged alphabetically.
Series III: Audio/Visual Materials and Memorabilia, 1955-2000, n.d., is divided into three subseries based on material type.
Subseries A: Audiocassettes, 1978, contain audio taped transcriptions of "13 Famous Aircraft" given on 10-5-1978 by Paul Garber.
Subseries B: Videocassettes, 1978, 1996-1998, n.d., contain VHS recordings of documentaries, television programs, and films all related to aviation and aerospace science.
Subseries C: Prints and Memorabilia, 1955, 1981-2000, n.d., contain airplane illustrations, pamphlets, promotional photo reproductions, posters, and a visor. This series is arranged by material type.
Source of Acquisition
The Earl A. Thornton Papers were donated to Special Collections and University Archives in 2000, as part of the Earl A. Thornton History of Flight Collection, containing over 800 volumes in the Rare Book Collection and the University Libraries collection.
This collection was donated as part of the Earl A. Thornton History of Flight Collection, which contains over 800 volumes, in the Rare Book Collection and the University Libraries collection. These publications can be found by searching the online library catalog for "Thornton History of Flight Collection".
During processing, the following publication was also separated to the Rare Book Collection: Thornton, Earl A. Aerospace thermal structures and materials for a new era. Progress in astronautics and aeronautics, v. 168. Washington, DC: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 1995.
Rights Statement for Archival Description
The guide to the Earl A. Thornton Papers by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (https://creativecommons.org/share-your-work/public-domain/cc0/).
The processing, arrangement and description of the Earl A. Thornton Papers commenced in May 2010 and was completed in June 2010. Additional materials were integrated and the description updated in June 2023.
Part of the processing, arrangement, and description of this collection was created as part of the project, "Piercing the Veil: Creating Access to the Archives of American Aerospace Exploration at Virginia Tech," funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) from 2022 to 2024.
- Earl A. Thornton Papers, 1885-2000
- Carmen Boggs-Parker, Graduate Assistant; Tyler Williams, Student Assistant; and LM Rozema, Archivist
- 2023 (CC0 1.0)
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Part of the processing, arrangement, and description of this collection was created as part of the project, "Piercing the Veil: Creating Access to the Archives of American Aerospace Exploration at Virginia Tech," funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) from 2022 to 2024.
Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository
Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US