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Butler Digital History

Gayle Thornbrough

Gayle Thornbrough

Gayle Thornbrough (1914-1999) graduated from Butler with a B.A. in 1936. She began her career at the Indiana Historical Society (IHS) as an editor in 1937, and she retired as executive secretary in 1984. Among her achievements: she edited the Pulitzer Prize–winning Old Northwest, written by R. C. Buley and published by the IHS in 1950. In 1968, at the urging of Eli Lilly, Thornbrough became the director of publications and the IHS library. In this role, she worked to improve access to the library for researchers, began two long-term documentary editing projects, and helped develop a new Library and Historical Building. The IHS became one of the country’s wealthiest historical societies in 1977, when it received ten percent of Eli Lilly’s holdings in the Eli Lilly Company stock at his bequest. Thornbrough built on this foundation to pursue a number of projects furthering preservation, research, and promotion of Indiana history. Indiana University awarded her an honorary doctorate in 1982 in recognition of her contributions to Indiana history. 

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Gayle Thornbrough