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Zatella R. Turner papers

Call Number: RH MS 645


The papers of Zatella R. Turner are those of an African American, native Kansan who was a scholar of and educator in Shakespearian literature.


  • Creation: 1915 - 1987


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 Zatella R. Turner

Zatella Rowena Turner was born 15 December 1904 in Kansas City, Kansas to Rhodes and Alice (Bailey) Turner. She attended Sumner High School in Kansas City, Kansas and then attended the University of Kansas, receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1929 and her Master of Arts degree in 1932, both in English literature. She also studied for a year at the University of London, specializing in Shakespearean Drama; her experiences abroad led to her book My Wonderful Year, published in 1939. Upon her return to America, Turner was a professor and chair of the Department of Languages and Literature at Houston College. In 1940, Turner became a professor of English at Virginia State College. While at VSC, Turner began the annual "Shakespeare Hour" program in 1944, served on various school committees, published a number of articles and presented various papers on Shakespearean drama. By her retirement in 1973, Turner had been listed as an Outstanding Educator of America and profiled in Role Model Blacks.

Turner was member of numerous organizations, including Alpha Kappa Alpha and the First AME Church. She was a member of various honor societies, including Phi Beta Kappa (to which she was only the third woman elected from KU), Kappa Delta Pi, and Alpha Mu Gamma. Turner died on 24 March 1996 at Kansas City, Kansas.


2 Linear Feet (2 boxes + 2 oversize boxes + 7 folders)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The Zatella R. Turner Papers date from 1915-1987 and are arranged in three series: Books, Career Papers, and Personal Papers. The books are publications from Turner's personal library and pertain to Shakespeare. Career Papers consist mainly of materials relating to Turner's tenure at Virginia State College and the Shakespeare Hour program she initiated there. Her Personal Papers include materials from various Greek organizations, education records, information regarding her book, and materials from two scrapbooks. Folder arrangement within each series is generally alphabetical by topic, with chronological arrangement of items within each folder. Although Virginia State College changed to Virginia State University during Turner's tenure, for consistency, all pertinent folders have been labeled Virginia State College.

Photographs from the Zatella R. Turner Collection are located at RH MS-P 645. Oversize materials from the collection are located at RH MS Q133 and RH MS R129.

Series List

The Zatella R. Turner Papers date from 1915-1987 and are arranged in three series: Books, Career Papers, and Personal Papers.

Physical Location

RH MS 645

Physical Location

RH MS-P 645

Physical Location

RH MS Q133

Physical Location

RH MS R129

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Zatella R. Turner, 1989, 1994

Gift, Estate of Zatella R. Turner, 1996

Related Materials

Turner, Zatella R., The element of poetical justice in the fiction of Anthony Trollope. Based on a study of his principal novels. Thesis (MA), University of Kansas, English, 1932, at Thesis 1932 Turner, Zatella, University of Kansas Libraries.

Turner, Zatella R., My Wonderful Year. Boston: Christopher Publishing House, c1939, at RH B2284, Spencer Library (Kansas Collection).

Guide to the Zatella R. Turner Collection
Zatella R. Turner papers
Finding aid prepared by mbw, 2006; revised by, cl 2010; revised by skt, 2010; Finding aid encoded by mbw, 2006; revised by skt, 2010; cmp, 2024.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Support for the processing of this Collection was provided by the Dana and Sue Anderson African American Collecting Program Endowment Fund.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Zatella R. Turner Collection, Kansas Collection, RH MS 645, 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