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The Dorothy Elve Tombaugh Collection

Identifier: 02-01-C2010.2

Scope and Contents

The Dorothy Elve Tombaugh Collection spans the years 1970-1999, with the bulk of the material dating from 1970 to 1984. The collection relates mainly to Tombaugh’s work developing, writing, and lecturing on techniques and equipment adaptations for disabled students in the mainstream high school science classroom. Primarily focused on making science education accessible to blind students, some of Tombaugh’s work was also tailored for students with mobility and hearing impairments. The collection includes correspondence, grant proposals, reports, agendas, itineraries, manuscripts, and printed matter. Tombaugh’s color presentation slides used during her lecture are also included, as well as a talking blood pressure monitor, a Braille label maker, and a set of hand-held tools used in the creation of Braille text and tactile graphics. The majority of materials in the collection pertain to the acquisition, logistics, and reporting of Tombaugh’s U.S. lecture tours (1979-1981), which were funded by the National Science Foundation. On these tours Tombaugh traveled by van and gave talks, workshops, and consultations to teachers and blindness professionals at high schools, universities, schools for the blind, and organizations for the blind. Her husband, Roy, a retired engineer, traveled with her and assisted with A/V equipment and logistics. He also contributed to or co-authored some of her writings and built models of accessible laboratory equipment and furniture.


  • Created: 1961-1999
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1970-1984
  • Other: Date acquired: 02/09/2011


Conditions Governing Access

Access to these papers is governed by the rules and regulations of the Jacobus tenBroek Library. Consult the Archives staff for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Jacobus tenBroek Library holds copyright on some, but not all, of the material in our collections. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be directed to the Archives staff. Researchers who obtain permission to publish from the Jacobus tenBroek Library are also responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations who hold copyright.

Biographical or Historical Information

Dr. Dorothy Elve Tombaugh (1917-2009) was a public high school biology teacher who became an expert in the area of accessible science education in the 1960s-1970s. Upon encountering several blind students in her classroom, she sought to make both her lessons and her laboratory accessible to these and other disabled students. She developed new teaching methods, techniques, and equipment modifications which benefited both her blind and sighted students and went on to publish several articles on the subject. Through grants from the National Science Foundation, she traveled the country as a lecturer and consultant on accessible science education.


  • 1917, Mar. 19 Born, Newark, NY
  • 1938 B.S. Chemistry and Biology, Alfred University, Alfred, NY
  • 1939-1940 Medical Laboratory Technologist certificate, Rochester General Hospital, Rochester, NY
  • 1940-1941 Medical laboratory technician, Ganado, AZ, and Tucson, AZ
  • 1940 Married Roy Tombaugh (1912-2002)
  • 1941-1944 Chemist, Hollywood, CA, and Glendale, CA
  • 1960-1961 Sixth grade teacher and elementary science consultant, Meadowlawn Elementary School, Kettering, OH
  • 1962-1963 High school science teacher, Adrian Senior High School, Adrian, MI
  • 1963-1978 High school biology, chemistry, and medical biology teacher, Euclid Senior High School, Euclid, OH
  • 1965 M.A. Biology and Education, Sienna Heights University, Adrian, MI
  • 1968-1974 Mainstreamed blind students in biology courses, Euclid Senior High School, Euclid, OH
  • 1973 Published Biology for the Blind through a Martha Holden Jennings grant
  • 1975 Outstanding Biology Teacher of the Year for Ohio, National Association of Biology Teachers
  • 1977-1980 Lecturer, “The Physically Handicapped Student in the Science Classroom and Laboratory: A Workshop”, NSF Chautauqua Short Course for College Teachers
  • 1979-1981 Lecturer, “Illustrating Techniques for Mainstreaming the Handicapped in Science”, NSF Grant
  • 1982 Doctor of Humane Letters, Sienna Heights University, Adrian, MI
  • 1983 Doctor of Science, Alfred University, Alfred, NY
  • 2009, Jul. 3 Died, Denver, CO
  • Roy Tombaugh was born on October 29, 1912 in Grand Ridge, IL. In 1922 his family moved to Burdett, KS, where he worked as a wheat farmer from 1930-1936. From 1937-1941 he attended the University of Arizona and taught at the Tucson Indian Training School during the school year, while working as a power plant operator during the summer in Ganado, AZ. From 1940-1970 he worked as a mechanical engineer for Westinghouse, Alcoa Aluminum, and Bohn Aluminum, where he specialized in extrusion engineering. One of his major projects was the creation of fuel rods for one of the first nuclear submarines. From 1970-1977, he worked as an environmental engineer for General Electric. He retired in 1977 and traveled with his wife during her lecture tours. He passed away in 2002.

    Note written by Anna Kresmer


    5.50 Linear Feet

    4 Hollinger boxes, 2 slide box, and 3 artifact boxes other_unmapped

    Language of Materials



    Correspondence and NSF grant materials created by Dorothy Elve Tombaugh, a high school biology teacher and author who worked to develop and disseminate laboratory techniques for blind students. The collection also contains Tombaugh's presentation slides and Braillling tools used to create materials for her blind students.

    Arrangement Note

    The collection is organized into 7 series:

  • Series 1: Correspondence, 1970-1984
  • Series 2: Grants, 1978-1981
  • Series 3: Writings, circa 1970-1984
  • Series 4: Lectures, 1970-1973, 1977-1981
  • Series 5: Publicity, 1961, 1972-1982
  • Series 6: Reference, 1981, 1993
  • Series 7: Miscellaneous, 1980, 2007, undated
  • Custodial History

    The papers of Dorothy Elve Tombaugh were donated to the Jacobus tenBroek Library in February 2011 by her daughter, Karen Dean.

    Source of Acquisition

    Karen Dean

    Method of Acquisition


    Accruals and Additions

    Additional materials were received and accessioned on 8/11/11, which were formally added to the collection in December 2011. Another acrrual was received on 1/04/12, which was formally added in May of 2012.

    Processing Information

    Originally processed by Anna Kresmer, June 2011. Revisions in 2011 and 2012 also completed by Anna Kresmer.

    Archon Finding Aid Title
    Anna Kresmer
    Description rules
    Describing Archives: A Content Standard
    Language of description
    Script of description
    Code for undetermined script
    Language of description note

    Repository Details

    Part of the Jacobus tenBroek Library, National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute Repository

    200 East Wells Street
    at Jernigan Place
    Baltimore MD 21230 US
    (410) 659-9314