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MSS 060 Ethel T. Chaffin papers Edit


MSS 060
Finding Aid Author
Mikaela LaFave
Finding Aid Date
July 2019
Description Rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of Description


  • 1967-2002, bulk 1979-1994 (Creation)


  • 1.04 Linear Feet (Whole)
    3 boxes (Box 1-3)

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  • Abstract

    The collection contains materials donated by Athens resident Ethel T. Chaffin who earned a Master of Arts degree at the University of Georgia in dance and theatre history in 1982 and contributed heavily to the work of the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation. Includes her thesis notes and research on Athens theatrical history and preservation of local landmarks, including Seney-Stovall Chapel.

  • Language of Materials


  • Physical Description

    Fair to Good

  • Processing Information

    Initial processing done by unknown, 2002. State of collection assessed by J. Sirotkin, 2016. Final processing, arrangement, description and finding aid completed by Mikaela LaFave, 2019.

  • Conditions Governing Access

    This collection has no restrictions. This collection is open to the public. Library policy on photography and photocopying will apply. Advance notice may be required. Apply in the Heritage Room for access.

  • Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Chaffin, Ethel T, 2002

  • Arrangement

    The Ethel T Chaffin papers are organized in the following series: I. Series 1: Research II. Series 2: Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation

    Creator organization was retained when discernible.

  • Biography

    Ethel T. Chaffin (née Tison, born Corinne Ethel Tison) (born 1921 and died 2018) was a modern dancer and dance instructor at Louisiana State University and Georgia State College for Women (now Georgia College), graduate student at the University of Georgia in dance and theatre history, and founding member of the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation, and was instrumental in the preservation of the old Fire Hall.

    Ethel T. Chaffin was born on January 13, 1921 in Natchitoches, Louisiana where her father was president of Louisiana State Teacher’s College (now Northwestern State University). Ethel T. Chaffin majored in Modern Dance at Louisiana State University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree at age 19. She was a member of Chi Omega Sorority and Phi Kappa Phi honor society. Following her graduation, she studied under Ethel Butler, Martha Graham, Doris Humphries, and Charles Weideman at the University of Maryland, New York University, and Bennington College. She taught dance at Georgia State College for Women and at Louisiana State University. She also lived in Washington, D.C., Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Tokyo, Japan prior to living in Athens, Georgia.

    Chaffin moved to Athens, Georgia with her husband and children in 1957 for her husband to serve on the faculty of the University of Georgia School of Law. While living in Athens, she matriculated at the University of Georgia College of Arts and Sciences to earn a Master of Arts degree in dance and theatre history. She received this degree in 1982, upon completion of her thesis “Professional Theatrical Entertainment in Athens, Georgia: 1865-1888.”

    While living in Athens, Chaffin helped found the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation with Joanna Traylor, John Waters, Robert Carson, Kenneth Coleman, Ruth J. Downes, Jeanne Downs, Carol Downs Fowler, Robert Kimbrell, John Linley, and Jeannette Lund. The ACHF was founded in 1967 to save the Church-Waddel-Brumby House, Athen’s oldest residence, from demolition to make room for a new federal building in an Urban Renewal Program. The residence was moved from the north side of East Hancock Avenue in the middle of the block between Thomas and Jackson streets to its present location at the corner of Thomas Street and rerouted Dougherty Street. Chaffin was involved in the Foundation’s movements to save the Fire Hall from demolition for a new Civic Center, advocate for the passage of the Historical Preservation Ordinance, and convert the former Church-Waddel-Brumby House into the Athens Welcome Center. The ACHF still exists in 2019 as an active organization in Athens, Georgia. She married Verner Chaffin in 1943 during World War II, in which her husband served. They have four children – Ethel, Frank, Mary, and John. Her husband Verner died in April 2018 and she died in December 2018.

  • Preferred Citation

    Ethel T Chaffin papers, MSS 060, Heritage Room, The Athens-Clarke County Library.

  • Related Materials

    Chaffin, Ethel T. "Professional Theatrical Entertainment in Athens, Georgia: 1865-1888." 1981, University of Georgia. Heritage Room, Athens-Clarke County Library. Call GR 792 Clarke CHAFFIN.

  • Scope and Contents

    The Ethel T. Chaffin papers are broken down into two series: Research and Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation.

    Series 1: Research contains Chaffin’s handwritten notes and research. This series includes several folders of legal pads and legal pad pages of notes that contain handwritten notes on newspaper articles from local Athens newspapers spanning from the early nineteenth century to around 1865. These pertain to her theatrical events, but also contain other information about Athens. This section also contains some handwritten notes pertaining directly to Chaffin’s thesis, including handwritten and typed sections of her manuscript. Also included are printouts of articles on theatrical performers and a folder on African American history.

    Series 2: Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation contains primarily newspaper clippings of editorials written by Ethel Chaffin and other members of the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation board about various redevelopment and preservation endeavors throughout late 1980s to the late 1990s. Prominent in this collection are materials related to the saving of the Fire Hall, the Morton Theatre, and the Historical Preservation Ordinance. Materials including personnel lists and documentation from the ACHF are also included here.

    The collection also contains one TK Pro Cassette tape.

  • Conditions Governing Use

    This collection is open to the public. Library policy on photography and photocopying will apply. Advance notice may be required. Apply in the Heritage Room for access.

External Documents


  • Type
    Container 1 Type
    Container 1 Indicator
    Container 2 Type
    Container 2 Indicator