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Jill P. May papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSF 555

Scope and Contents

The Jill P. May papers document the life and career of Professor of Emerita of the College of Education, Department of Curriculum and Education, Jill P. May. The majority of the papers date from the mid-1970s to May’s retirement in 2011. The collection documents the private and professional life of May, particularly her professional activities during her tenure at Purdue University. Some personal papers include May’s early life and education, in addition to correspondence with family members that highlight her achievements. Types of materials include correspondence, photographs, teaching materials, manuscripts (published and unpublished), research materials, clippings, awards, books, and various other professional papers from May’s long career in children’s literature and curriculum. Subjects extensively found in the collection include children’s literature, especially multicultural literature, and the use of a designed curriculum for teaching this type of literature to children. Of particular interest is correspondence from many prolific authors and illustrators of children’s literature such as Trina Schart Hyman and Lloyd Alexander. Additionally, there is a large amount of research materials on Weston Woods, a production company for children’s audio and video materials, and its founder, Morton Schindel. Books used by May in her research with annotations can be found in Box 18 of the collection.


  • 1923 - 2018
  • Majority of material found within mid-1970s - 2011


Access Information

Majority of the collection is open for research. Some physical materials in series two and three have been restricted at the donor's request or for privacy reasons.

Copyright and Use Information

Copyright held by Purdue University. Consult with Purdue University Archives and Special Collections prior to reproduction of materials.

Biographical Information

Jill P. May was born in Rocky Ford, Colorado to parents Floyd Powell and Glenda Florine “Flo” Riggs. She received her B.A. from Wisconsin State University in English in 1965, and a M.S.L.S from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in library science with an emphasis in children's literature in 1966. She is Professor Emerita in the College of Education, Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Purdue University with a focus on language and literacy. While at Purdue, May conducted research on many children’s authors and illustrators and published scholarly articles for journals in the field. She was heavily involved in the Children’s Literature Association (ChLA) and other national associations, where she collaborated with others and formed lifelong relationships with colleagues also working within academia and children’s literature. May coedited a textbook titled Exploring Culturally Diverse Literature for Children and Adolescents: Learning to Listen in New Ways (2004) with friend and colleague, Darwin L. Henderson. Additionally, May and her husband, Robert E. May, coauthored two books, Howard Pyle: Imagining an American School of Art (2011) and Spearhead Environmental Change: the Legacy of Indiana Congressman Floyd J. Fithian (2022). The Purdue Publication, First Opinions, Second Reactions, was also co-edited by May. She has remained active in the field since retiring in 2011 with research interests in culturally diverse children's literature, Howard Pyle School of Art, and women artists (1870-1920).


13.704 Cubic Feet (12 cubic foot boxes, one legal-size full-length manuscript box, two letter-size full-length manuscript boxes, four flat boxes, and two shoe boxes.)

0.0714 Gigabytes

Language of Materials



The Jill P. May papers are arranged topically into six series.
  1. Personal Life
  2. Correspondence
  3. Professional Career
  4. Awards and Honors
  5. Photographs
  6. Artifacts

Technical Access Information

Floppy disks from series 3, subseries 1 have been imaged but not extracted. Digital content will need to be migrated to a digital format before use. Contact Purdue University Archives and Special Collections at least 48 hours in advance if interested in using this material.

Physical Access Information

Scrapbooks in series one are fragile and should be handled with care. Boxes 15 and 16 are not accessible to researchers as they hold only the digital media carriers for digital content.

Acquisition Information

Materials donated in four installments by Jill P. May on August 27, 2010, May 23, 2011, June 8, 2015, and December 31, 2018.

Separated Materials

Robert E. May Purdue Teaching Acceptance Letter, 1969, two retirement cards, Wales, UK photo album and travel journal, 2002, Charles B. Murphy Award for Robert E. May, 2006-2007, and Mississippi Award of Merit for Robert E. May, 1986 and 1989 were moved to the Robert E. May papers, addition 04 (2023-146).

Processing Information

All materials have been rehoused in acid-free folders and boxes. Rusted staples and paper clips have been removed from the materials and plastic paper clips or file folder inserts have been used in their place. Oversized materials have been kept in their original series; however, items requiring storage in a larger container have been moved to a box labeled oversize. Some oversize materials have been removed from frames and placed in flat folders and boxes. The original order of the materials has been retained whenever possible, with brackets appearing around file titles not originally created by the donor. All newsprint has been photocopied and original newspaper clippings have been discarded. Photo corners were used in one photo album to secure photographs for preservation purposes. Portions of the collection contain sensitive information and have been restricted or redacted in order to respect confidentiality. These items have been separated from their original location in the collection and housed in restricted materials containers. Student work has been redacted for personal identifying information and originals discarded. Only a sampling of these materials has been retained; the rest has been discarded. Some items have been separated from the Jill P. May papers and added to the Robert E. May papers and Floyd Fithian papers. A small number of documents and photographs have been discarded because of the presence of PII of individuals other than May. Some artifacts have also been discarded as they are outside of our collecting scope. Books not authored by, dedicated to, or heavily annotated by May have not been retained.



Jill P. May papers
Sara Pettinger
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
First edition.

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States