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Special Collections Online at The University of Tennessee

May Justus Collection

Identifier: MS-3820

This collection documents the life and work of May Justus. It consists of correspondence, both personal (from family, friends, fans, and fellow authors) and professional (from publishing houses). It also has an extensive collection of her contracts and copyright assignments from publishers and many newspaper clippings about her activities and her works. It contains information about her life, both stories by her as well as articles, an essay, and a master’s thesis written by others. In addition, it includes photographs, manuscript copies of her works, galley proofs, and audio recordings about her life.


  • 1925-1987


The material in this collection is in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Manuscript and University Archives collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 24 hours is needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library.


2 Linear Feet


This collection documents the life and work of May Justus and consists of correspondence to and from Justus, contracts, manuscripts, photographs, articles about her, and a bibliobiography thesis about her life and work.

Biographical/Historical Note

May Justus was an author of numerous children's books, many of which were set in Appalachia. She was born on May 12, 1898, in Del Rio, Tennessee, to Stephen and Margaret (Brooks) Justus. She attended the University of Tennessee for coursework to be a teacher between 1923 and 1938. During her twenty-five years of teaching, she began to write stories based on her own experiences as a little girl and on folk songs and tales passed on to her by her mother. Even after retiring from teaching to focus on her writing, she continued a children’s story-and-song program and for twenty years maintained a children's library in her attic. Justus received several literary awards, among them the Julia Ellsworth Ford Prize for Gabby Gaffer's New Shoes in 1935 and for Near-Side-And-Far in 1936 and the Boy's Club Award in 1950 for Luck for Little Lulu. Justus also volunteered with the Highlander Folk School beginning in 1932, and she was active in integrating Tennessee schools in the 1950s. She died in Tennessee on November 7, 1989, and is buried in Summerfield Cemetery in Grundy County, Tennessee.


This collection consists of two boxes and is arranged into seven series.

Previous Citation

Material in this collection was previously listed as parts of MS.0383, MS.0671, and MS.1107.

Acquisition Note

May Justus donated this collection to the University of Tennessee Libraries, Knoxville, Special Collections.

Related Archival Materials

Interested researchers may wish to consult MS.1640: May Justus Papers, 1977-1989.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA