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Virginia Lacy Jones papers

 Collection — Box: 1-35
Identifier: 0000-0000-0000-0115

Scope note

Virginia Lacy Jones (b. 1912 - d. 1984) was a librarian, educator, author, and – among library educators – known as "the Dean of Deans." She dedicated almost fifty years of her life to the library profession, thirty-six of which she spent as Dean of the School of Library Service at Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University). Her career began at Atlanta University in 1939 as Catalog Librarian in Trevor Arnett Library. Dr. Rufus Clement, President of Atlanta University invited her to join the faculty when the library school opened in 1941. Virginia remained a member of the faculty until she received a fellowship to pursue a Doctorate degree from the University of Chicago. She received her degree in 1945, becoming the second African American to receive a Ph.D. in Library Service. She returned to Atlanta University to serve as the second dean of the School of Library Service (later named the School of Library and Information Studies) – a position she held until her appointment in 1981 as the first Director of the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library.

The daughter of Edward and Ellen Lacy, Virginia was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. Virginia was especially close to her mother and her mother's sister, Leila Bowman; she became Leila's primary caretaker during her senior years. In 1941, Virginia married Edward A. (E. A.) Jones, a professor of French at Morehouse College. They were married for forty years, until his death in 1981. She was the step-mother to E.A.'s two sons, Edward Jones Jr. and Carl Jones. Photographs, correspondence, and other personal information throughout the collection provide a glimpse into the close relationship Virginia shared with her relatives.

Dr. Jones was very active in the library profession, serving on numerous boards and committees in the American Library Association, Georgia Library Association, and the Southeastern Library Association. She was especially concerned about the plight of African Americans in the library profession and worked diligently for equal opportunity for black librarians. As Dean of the Atlanta University library school, Dr. Jones and her faculty fought to integrate public libraries in the South and to integrate regional professional organizations. She was also concerned about library education. The library school hosted conferences that addressed the improvement of the education of Black librarians in the South. In 1977, Dean Jones spoke at the Governor’s Conference on Georgia Libraries and Information Service, where she discussed the necessity of strengthening and improving existing programs of continuing education for librarians instead of creating more library schools that offered the same curriculum. Dr. Jones served on the editorial board of Phylon: The Atlanta University Review of Race and Culture; and she published numerous articles in professional journals and university publications. In the article, “Book Balance Race,” Dr. Jones discusses the disparities in segregated public libraries noting the limited funds and the lack of books and trained personnel in Black libraries as compared to their white counterparts.

Dr. Jones is remembered and revered as an outstanding librarian and educator who was recognized with many awards and honors that illustrate her untiring work in the profession. She received the Melvil Dewey Award of the American Library Association for her creative professional achievement, the Joseph W. Lippincott Award for distinguished service to the profession of librarianship, and she was awarded honorary memberships in the American Library Association and the Southeastern Library Association. Other awards include the Beta Phi Mu Award, the Black Women Pioneer Award and an honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Michigan.

The Virginia Lacy Jones Papers consists of Jones' collection of professional and personal materials spanning the years 1912 to 1985; the bulk of the collection documents her extensive career as a librarian. The collection does not include the administrative files of her tenure as Dean and Library Director. Along with biographical materials and documentation of close family members, the collection provides insight into Dr. Jones' dedication to librarianship and the education of Black librarians.


  • Creation: 1912-1985
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1970 - 1980


Rights Statement

All materials in this collection are either protected by copyright or are the property of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc., and/or the copyright holder as appropriate. For more information, please contact

Biographical timeline

Missing Title

1912 June 25
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio to Edward and Ellen Lacy
1929 June 14
Received High School Diploma from Sumner High School, Saint Louis, MO
1933 June
Received Bachelor of Library Service degree from Hampton Institute, Hampton, VA
1933 June
Became Assistant Librarian, Louisville Municipal College, Louisville, KY
Received Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Hampton Institute, Hampton, Virginia
Served as Librarian, Louisville Municipal College, Louisville, KT
Became Instructor in Library Science, Prairie View State College, Prairie View, TX
Received Master of Science Degree in Library Service, from the University of Illinois, Urbana, IL
Accepted position as Catalog Librarian at Atlanta University, Atlanta, GA
Married Edward A. Jones, professor of French, Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA
Became Instructor at Atlanta University School of Library Service, Atlanta, GA
Received Doctorate degree in Library Service from the University of Chicago; became the second African-American to obtain this degree
Became Dean of the School of Library Service at Atlanta University, Atlanta, GA
Elected to the office of secretary-treasurer of the American Association of Library Schools
Appointed Editorial Consultant to the Library Journal, the oldest periodical in the field of library service
Elected vice-president and president-elect of the Association of American Library Schools
Appointed to a nine-member library advisory committee by President Lyndon B. Johnson
Received an award from the Inquirers Club for meritorious achievement in library service
Received the Melvil Dewey Award "for creative professional achievements of high order"
Received the American Library Association's Honorary Member Award
1977 June 21
Received the Joseph W. Lippincott Award "for distinguished service as a librarian"
Received honorary degrees of Doctor of Letters from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI and Doctor of Humanities from Bishop College, Dallas, TX
Received the Beta Phi Mu award for an outstanding contribution to education for librarianship
Retired as Dean of the Atlanta University School of Library and Information Studies
Appointed as the first Director of the Atlanta University Center, Robert W. Woodruff Library
1981 June 4
Husband, Edward A. Jones, died in Atlanta, GA
Received the Southeastern Library Association, Rothrock Award "for contributing substantially to the furtherance of librarianship in the Southeast during a career"
Retired from the Atlanta University Center, Robert W. Woodruff Library
1984 December 6
Died in Atlanta, GA at age 72
The Virginia L. Jones Exhibition Hall in the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library, was named and dedicated in her honor


18.5 Linear feet

Language of Materials



The Papers are arranged into six series: 1. Personal Papers; 2. Correspondence; 3. Writings; 4. Organizations; 5. Photographs; 6. Oversized Materials.

Virginia Lacy Jones papers, 1912-1985
Finding aid prepared by Stacy S. Jones, 2007 August.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Revision Statements

  • 2012 October: Collection was entered into Archivist Toolkit.

Repository Details

Part of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc. Repository


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