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Thomas Gibbons Aylesworth Papers

Identifier: DG0048

Scope and Contents

The Thomas Gibbons Aylesworth Papers contain typescripts, galleys, layouts, page proofs, blues, folded and gathered sheets, and correspondence created and accumulated by Thomas Gibbons Aylesworth, Virginia Aylesworth, and Gerald M. Reagan between 1968 and 1983. Aylesworth's papers were created from his composition of twenty-nine published books. The material is organized into two series: books and letters sent.

The books series contains typescript and publication material for twenty-seven children's books written and edited by Aylesworth on themes in science, technology, paranormal phenomena, and the occult. It also includes items for two books he co-authored: The Mount St. Helens Disaster (1983), a juvenile science book with Virginia Aylesworth, and Teaching for Thinking (1969), a scholarly treatise on education with Gerald M. Reagan. Nearly all of the typescript material in the series is Aylesworth's original composition, but the three anthologies of articles from Nature and Science magazine that he edited incorporate paste-ups of clippings of the original published articles in their earliest drafts. A similar method was used for a portion of the typescript of Teaching for Thinking. The papers in the books series are arranged alphabetically by title and the material for each book is arranged chronologically in order of creation when known. Occasional letters received are filed either with the material they accompanied or in an appropriate place within the chronology of each book's production process.

The letters sent to the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection were selected and photocopied from the correspondence file of the de Grummond Collection because they provide information on Aylesworth's literary career. They are arranged chronologically.


  • 1968-1983

Conditions Governing Access

Noncirculating; available for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The collection is protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). Reproductions can be made only if they are to be used for "private study, scholarship, or research." It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials.

Biographical / Historical

Thomas Gibbons Aylesworth was born on November 5, 1927, in Valparaiso, Indiana, to Carroll Wells Aylesworth, a salesman, and his wife, Ruth Gibbons Aylesworth. He attended public schools in Chicago and Joliet, Illinois, and Rochester, Indiana, and served with the U.S. army in Japan in 1946-47. He married Virginia Boelter in 1949 and received an A.B. degree in zoology from Indiana University the following year. Aylesworth taught in high schools in Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan before receiving an M.S. from Indiana University in 1953. He worked as an assistant professor of biology at Michigan State University while attending Ohio State University, where he completed a Ph.D. in 1959.

Aylesworth commenced his career of writing non-fiction for young readers when he moved his family to Middletown, Connecticut, in 1962 to take the job of senior editor of Current Science, a junior high school science periodical owned by Wesleyan University. While at Wesleyan, he found he enjoyed the company of publishing professionals more than that of academics, so he became a senior editor for Doubleday in 1965 and moved to Stamford, Connecticut. Editing the work of others during the week, Aylesworth wrote science books for children on the weekend. He enjoyed tremendous success with This Vital Air, This Vital Water (1968), a book on environmental pollution that was translated into seven languages. After hosting a houseguest with an interest in astrology and witchcraft, Aylesworth began writing juvenile books on the occult. Servants of the Devil (1971), a book on witches, was well received and followed by similar titles on vampires, werewolves, mythological beasts, and paranormal phenomena. He also served as ghostwriter for young readers' autobiographies of several celebrities and co-wrote a series of seventeen travel books with his wife, Virginia.

In addition to his over forty works for young people, Aylesworth also wrote books for adults on travel, geography, science, sports, and education. In 1980, tired of the daily train commute to New York City, Aylesworth took a job as editor-in-chief of Bison Books, a Greenwich, Connecticut, firm specializing in coffee table books. He went into semiretirement in 1986. Aylesworth published his final work in 1993 and died of a heart attack in Stamford, Connecticut, on July 13, 1995.

Sources: Something About the Author, ed. Anne Commire (Detroit: Gale Research, 1973), 4:18-19.

Something About the Author Autobiography Series, ed. Joyce Nakamura (Detroit: Gale Research, 1994), 17:1-16.

Something About the Author, ed. Kevin S. Hile (Detroit: Gale Research, 1997), 88:11-17.


5.70 Cubic Feet (14 boxes)

Language of Materials



The Thomas Gibbons Aylesworth Papers contain literary material and correspondence created and accumulated by Thomas Gibbons Aylesworth, Virginia Aylesworth, and Gerald M. Reagan between 1968 and 1983. Aylesworth's papers were created from his composition of twenty-nine juvenile and adult books on themes in science, technology, education, paranormal phenomena, and the occult.

Thomas Gibbons Aylesworth Papers
In Progress
Hans Rasmussen
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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This finding aid is the product of a grant funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the de Grummond Childrens Literature Collection Repository

118 College Drive - 5148
Hattiesburg MS 39406-0001