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Personal papers of Shirley L. Patterson

Call Number: PP 607


This collection contains the personal papers of Shirley L. Patterson regarding her work in gerontology and natural helping. The papers include coursework and teaching materials from her time as a professor at the University of Kansas School of Social Work, materials related to her dissertation and other research projects, correspondence and other materials related to her mentors Carel Germain and Esther Twente, and records related to projects Patterson undertook outside work, including after retirement at the La Vida Llena Living Community in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


  • Creation: 1950 - 2018


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Audio visual materials are stored in the KU Annex off-site storage area.

All researchers interested in reviewing this material must consult Spencer Research Library Public Services staff (785-864-4334 or, 9-5 M-F CST) before a planned visit; staff will respond within three days, though materials may not be available in that timeframe. Access to audio visual materials may require digitization first. Be advised that drop-in requests for this material cannot be accommodated.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Biography of Shirley L. Patterson

Shirley Louise Patterson was born on July 22nd, 1933 in Rankin, Texas. She attended North Texas University, University of Kansas, and the University of Wisconsin - Madison, as well as the McCormick Theological Seminary. Patterson studied and taught in social work, specializing in Gerontology, or the study of aging. She held faculty teaching positions at the University of Kansas, University of Nevada - Las Vegas, and Arizona State University.

Much of Patterson's work focused on the dynamics of family and friends that care for the elderly and other people in their lives. She coined the term "natural helpers" to describe these relationships and taught courses in death and dying. Patterson was mentored by and worked with Carel Germain and Esther E. Twente. She also worked with Susan A. Cho, her partner, to edit two volumes of Turning Points in Womens' Lives and other works.

In 2005, Patterson moved to La Vida Llena Living Community in Albuquerque where she was recognized for her organization and her works. Patterson passed away on April 10th, 2018.


3 Linear Feet (4 boxes + 10 audiovisual items)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

PP 607

Physical Location


Physical Location

A/V items at Annex (Contact Spencer Library Public Services)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gifts, Susan A. Cho, 2018, 2019.

Related Materials

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


The Guide to the Shirley L. Patterson Collection
Personal papers of Shirley L. Patterson
Finding aid prepared by anm. Finding aid encoded by anm.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Personal papers of Shirley L. Patterson, PP 607, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

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

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States