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Personal Papers of Thomas A. Gorton

Call Number: PP 407


Thomas A Gorton joined the faculty of the University of Kansas in 1950 as the Dean of the School of Fine Arts, a position he held until 1975. He continued to teach until 1978, when he retired from KU as dean emeritus. This collection includes correspondence, biographical material, class notes, musical compositions, and family genealogical publications relating to his secondary career as a genealogist.


  • Creation: 1949 - 1997


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Thomas A. Gorton

Thomas Arthur Gorton was born March 12, 1910 in Oneida, NY. He received his bachelors degree in music in 1932 and his masters degree in music in 1939, both from the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester in New York.

Gorton was a lieutenant in the US Navy during World War II. After the war he returned to the University of Rochester, where he earned a doctorate in composition in 1948. Before coming to KU, Gorton was director of the School of Music at Ohio University, Athens.

In 1950 he joined the University of Kansas faculty as the Dean of the School of Fine Arts, a position he held until 1975. He continued to teach until 1978, when he retired from KU as dean emeritus. While at KU, Gorton participated in the planning of the new music and dramatic arts building, now known as Murphy Hall. Under his guidance, KU added a number of undergraduate majors in music and the visual arts to its curriculum, a masters of fine arts in art and a doctoral program in music. He was instrumental in the school's development of its music library collection, which was named for him in 1975.

Gorton also developed the Chamber Music Series; started the KU Symposium of Contemporary American Music, which drew leading composers from all over the country; founded and conducted the KU Little Symphony; started the opera program and conducted a number of operas at KU; and served as the KU concert manager.

After his retirement, Gorton developed a second career as a writer and genealogist. He wrote and published three volumes about his family. Thomas Gorton died in 1997.


.75 Linear Feet (2 boxes + 4 oversize boxes, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

PP 407

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Judith Gorton Parkinson, 2001.

Related Materials

Consult library staff regarding the availability of related photographs, biographical files, and scrapbooks.

Guide to the Thomas A. Gorton Collection
Personal Papers of Thomas A. Gorton
Finding aid prepared by kn, 2004; revised by mes, 2015.
2004, 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Thomas A. Gorton Collection, PP 407, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States