This collection contains the personal and professional papers of Alison Comish Thorne pertainin to her time as a USU professor and equal rights advocate.
Utah State University. Special Collections and Archives Manuscript Collection
Merrill-Cazier Library Utah State University 3000 Old Main Hill Logan, UT 84322-3000 Phone: 435 797-2663 Fax: 435 797-2880 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Material in English
Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA)
Alison Comish Thorne was born May 9, 1914 in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Newel
H. and Louise Larson Cornish. Her scholarly pursuits began at the age of sixteen
when she entered Brigham Young University where she earned her Bachelor's degree in
Economics and Education in 1934. Thorne received a Master's degree in Consumption
Economics at Iowa State University in 1935. She then pursued doctoral studies at the
University of Chicago during 1935-36, before receiving her Ph.D. in 1938 from Iowa
State University in the field of Consumption Economics. Her mentors, Elizabeth Ellis
Hoyt and Margaret G. Reid, worked with Thorne to help her become the first woman to
receive a Ph.D. in this field from ISU. Thorne married D. Wynne Thorne on August 3,
1937 in Salt Lake City.
After the completion of her graduate work, Thorne filled various instructor
positions at Colorado State University, Iowa State University, and finally Utah
State University. At USU she was given the title of lecturer from 1964 through the
1980s by both USU's Department of Sociology and the Department of Home Economics and
Consumer Education. Due to anti-nepotism laws, Thorne was not allowed to secure a
faculty position since her husband was already a faculty member. (Wynne Thorne
served as USU's Head of Agronomy, Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station,
and the Vice President of University Research.) This setback did not keep Thorne
from establishing a solid reputation as a scholar. Thorne played a key role in the
founding of the Women's Studies Program at USU and served as a chair in the Women's
Studies Committee from 1977-1989. In addition, Thorne's devotion to increasing the
opportunity for women can be seen in her involvement in the Women's Center, the
Committee on the Status of Women, as well as the Women and International Development
Moreover, Thorne gave many early feminist speeches, including “Let the Dishes Wait”
(1949) and “Leave the Dishes in the Sink” (1973). These speeches encouraged women to
focus more on personal hobbies, interests, education, and family rather than
maintaining a “perfect” home. As result of her influential work, Thorne has been the
recipient of many awards, such as Utah State University's Distinguished Service
Award (1982), Woman of the Year for the Utah Chapter of the American Association of
University Women (1967), and Utah Governor's Award for Volunteer Service (1980). She
was also the author of numerous articles and books, including Women in the History
of Utah's Land-grant College (1985), Visible and Invisible Women in Land-grant
Colleges (1986), Vision and Rhetoric in Shakespeare: Looking Through Language
(2000), Leave the Dishes in the Sink: Adventures of an Activist in Conservative Utah
(2002), and Shakespeare's Romances (2003).
Thorne was active in many organizations during her retirement, such as the Utah
State Historical Society, the Utah State Women's History Association, and the
National Women's Studies Association. Thorne died in 2005 in Logan, Utah.
This thirteen-box collection contains the papers of Alison Comish Thorne and spans
the period from 1925 to 2003. The collection contains Thorne's correspondence
(1932-2000), professional papers, research papers, unpublished and published
writings, autobiographical writings, papers concerning Thorne's involvement in the
campaign for ERA, papers concerning USU's Women's Studies Program, Thorne/Comish
family papers, and a batch of papers concerning Elizabeth Hoyt (Thorne's mentor at
ISU). Thorne's correspondence (amounting to thousands of letters) documents her life
as a college student, her feminist and ERA work, her university service, her service
in Cache Valley's “Communities Against Poverty” program, as well as additional
topics. Of particular interest are Thorne's unpublished writings concerning “Let the
Dishes Wait” (1949) and “Leave the Dishes in the Sink” (1973), writings which
challenged stereotypical perceptions of a woman's role in society.
Use of the Collection
Restrictions on Access :
No restrictions on use, except: not available through interlibrary loan.
Restrictions on Use :
It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright
Initial Citation: The Papers of Alison Comish Thorne
USU_Coll Mss 216, Box [ ]. Special Collections and Archives. Utah State University
Merrill-Cazier Library. Logan, Utah.
Following Citations:USU_Coll Mss 216, USUSCA.
The materials in this collection have been organized topically and chronologically
reflecting their original order. Researchers should be aware that in addition to the
identified boxes of correspondence, many of Thorne's subject files and research
files also contain correspondence relative to the file's specific topic.
Acquisition Information :
Donated in three batches, the first two by Alison Thorne in 1992 and 2002, and then
by the family of Alison Thorne in 2005.
Related Materials :
USU Special Collections also contains a small collection of Thorne's photographs.
Those interested in viewing these materials should inquire with Special Collections’
photograph curator. Special Collections also contains the professional papers of
Alison's husband, Wynne Thorne catalogued as COLL MSS 299: D. Wynne Thorne
Detailed Description of the Collection
Biographical Papers, Thesis and Dissertation,
Writings, and Other
Vita and biographical
Thorne's grade transcripts from
College papers, miscellaneous
Newspaper clippings about Thorne
Newspaper clippings kept by Thorne
Thorne's Ph.D. dissertation; "Evaluations
of Consumption in Modern Thought"
Thorne's MA thesis, "Credit Facilities
Extended by the US Government for Home Ownership and
Publications and writings of Thorne
"Women Mentoring Women in Economics in the
"A Quick History of Agronomy Wives,"
Cache Valley Migrant Council
Summary of Thorne's family correspondence,