The M. Lynette Thompson Library

The History of the Library

The original core of the books in the library was assembled by Dr. Lynette Thompson, when she was chair of the Classics Department for 19 years (1961-1980). Dr. Thompson taught at Florida State College for Women/Florida State University from 1942 until 1994, holding the longest tenure of any faculty member at FSU. She specialized in the poetry of Lucan, and was known in the State of Florida and around the U.S. for promoting the Classics. Dr. Thompson passed on in 2003. The library had been named in her honor in 1996 and she had the pleasure of seeing it established in its current home in Dodd Hall.


Thompson Library Handbook of Operations



The M. Lynette Endowment

Lynette Thompson was born in 1919 in the small town of Gretna, about a 30-minutes’ drive west of Tallahassee. She attended FSU in the 1930's at the time when it was an exclusive women's school, Florida State College for Women, and majored in Classics. Here she studied under Olivia Dorman, chair of Classics and dean of students, who is remembered in our Dorman scholarships. Lynette was an excellent student and became president of the school’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. She received the A.B. in 1940 and then took her master's immediately in 1941 at Oberlin. She returned to Tallahassee in 1942 as an instructor in Classics, and she taught her last class at FSU in 1994, thus creating the longest tenure of any faculty member ever to teach at FSU. This record seems to have held up to the present. She was promoted, eventually to full professor in 1965, but before that promotion she became chair of Classics in 1961, and she held that administrative post until 1980. She did not have much time for her scholarship, but her favorite author was the poet Lucan, and she did publish some articles on him in prestigious journals. The Thompson Library now owns a number of books from her library on Lucan. Lynette started that library herself and through the years donated many books to it; this is one of the truly great resources our department has at its disposal.

Lynette was also proud of the role she played in starting up archaeology in our department. The first dig at Cetamura took place in 1973 as a course in the FSU Florence program. At that time we did not have a field school and there was very little funding available, but she managed to find the funds to support the first four years of work there and she had a vision of how this project could contribute to the growth of the department. She included two archaeologists in her faculty, which by the way reached the hefty number of 11 members in 1971. Lynette was a colorful vigorous personality, and took a good bit of teasing about her habits of chain smoking and of cussing like a sailor. There are stories of her going into the Dean’s office fulminating and pounding on his desk and it is easy to imagine how she obtained some of her faculty lines. She was a direct, head-on person, honest and devoted to the university and to the Classics. It is recalled that while eating at a Chinese restaurant, Lynette got a cookie with a fortune that said, “you are honest, straight and true.” And she was.