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Della Thomas

Oklahoma Library Legends

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Della Thomas Image

Della Thomas was born March 27, 1913 on a farm her family homesteaded near Mitchell, S.D. She received a teaching degree from Superior Wisconsin State Teacher’s College and taught school for several years before returning to obtain a degree in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

In Madison she married John E. Thomas. They moved to Stillwater where Mr. Thomas had accepted a position at Oklahoma A&M College. While her children were young, Mrs. Thomas worked for the Scott Foresman Company assisting with the publication of textbooks.

In 1957, Mrs. Thomas joined the staff at the Oklahoma State University Library as the head of the new Curriculum Materials Laboratory (now The Mary L. Williams Curriculum Materials Library) and taught classes in Children’s Literature. She was a member of the Oklahoma Library Association and was elected as the organization’s president in 1965. She was also very active for many years in the American Library Association, serving on several national committees.

Mrs. Thomas was particularly interested in Children’s Literature. In conjunction with Studies Abroad Corporation and the University she led college credit tours to Europe and Asia, visiting sites, organizations and authors associated with the world of children’s literature.

On her retirement, she started a used and new book business in Stillwater, Caravan Books and later a used book store, the Caravan Book Annex, which she and her husband ran for many years. She also published many catalogs of her extensive collection of used and rare children’s books and sold to customers throughout the U.S. and abroad. She accumulated a large collection of books and ephemera relating to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, which she donated to OSU prior to her death in 2004.

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