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Marion Thornton, Jr., Letters

Finding Aid & Inventory

Marion Moore Thornton, Jr., (1923-1944) was a U.S. Army Air Forces servicemember in the second World War. This collection is mainly composed of twenty letters from Thornton to his cousin, Elizabeth (Libba) Pittman Claiborne, while he was serving in the USAAF. Transcripts of the letters and some family history are also included.

Biographical and Historical Note

Marion Moore Thornton, Jr., was born on August 29, 1923, to Marion Moore Thornton and Elizabeth Bailey Thornton of Brownsville, Tennessee. On February 4, 1943, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF), a precursor of the U.S. Air Force. Thornton trained at Harlingen Army Airfield in Texas and Air Corps Technical School at Kessler Field, Biloxi, Mississippi. His letters also indicate that he traveled to Brazil, England, and Ireland. Thornton was killed on July 5, 1944, in a mid-air collision in English air space during a training mission. At the time of his death, Thornton held the USAAF rank of technical sergeant, abbreviated as TSGT or T/SGT.

This collection is mainly composed of Thornton's letters to his cousin, Elizabeth (Libba) Claiborne, née Pittman, from 1943-1944 while he was serving in the USAAF. Claiborne was born on March 8, 1927, to Otho Pittman and Ruth Thornton Pittman in Brownsville, Tennessee. Ruth had seven brothers and so daughter Libba had 21 first cousins, of which Marion, Jr., was one. Libba Pittman Claiborne attended Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, and graduated from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. She was married to Alex Claiborne and together they had two sons, Alex, Jr., and Robert. Elizabeth (Libba) Pittman Claiborne died on March 22, 2020, in her native Brownsville.


  • "TSGT Marion Moore Thornton Jr.," Find A Grave. Accessed at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/111068888/marion-moore-thornton

Collection Overview

This collection contains Thornton's letters to Elizabeth (Libba) Pittman, totalling 21 pieces of mail: 18 letters from Thornton, including one sent using the V-mail microfilm post system; 2 postcards from Thornton; and one letter by Libba that was returned to sender with a note on the envelope stating that Thornton was deceased. A booklet that includes transcripts of all correspondence, along with digitized images, is also included in this collection.

Summary Information

Z. Smith Reynolds Library Special Collections and Archives
Marion Thornton, Jr., Letters
Date [inclusive]
1 half-document box
0.21  Linear Feet

Administrative Information

Publication Information
Z. Smith Reynolds Library Special Collections and Archives, 2022
Access Restrictions
This collection is open for use. 
Copyright Notice
The nature of the WFU Z. Smith Reynolds Library Special Collections and Archives means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. The Archives and Special Collections of ZSR Library claims only physical ownership of most materials. The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to the U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. 
Preferred Citation
Marion Thornton, Jr., Letters (MS928), Z. Smith Reynolds Library Special Collections and Archives, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA. 

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