Skip to main content

Kay Cain papers

Identifier: V005

Scope and Contents of the Papers

The largest part of the Kay Cain papers, 1931-1944 (bulk 1942-1944) consists of clippings from the Atlanta Constitution, showing the published work of Kay Cain, 1942-1944. Other clippings include published notes about Cain herself, photos by her that appeared in other publications, and early clippings from Missouri newspapers. A few manuscripts by Jane Noland are for a proposed humorous column about herself and Cain, women "forced into the newspaper business by the [wartime] manpower shortage," pursuing stories. A small quantity of correspondence, assignment sheets, and ephemera relates to Cain’s assignments and other work. The photographic prints (93, almost all 8x10 inches) appear to be a mixture of Cain’s own work and that of other photographers. Negatives (187, 4x5 inches) include images made for the Constitution, portraits of Constitution staff, and photos commissioned by or sold to other publications. Some of the photos may depict friends or family members. Empty negative boxes and a 4x5 inch film holder round out the papers.


  • Creation: 1931-1944


Restrictions on Access

Collection is open for research use.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Georgia State University is the owner of the physical collection and makes reproductions available for research, subject to the copyright law of the United States and item condition. Georgia State University may or may not own the rights to materials in the collection. It is the researcher's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and obtain permission from the copyright holder before publication, reproduction, or display of the materials beyond what is reasonable under copyright law. Researchers may quote selections from the collection under the fair use provision of copyright law.

Biography of Kay Cain

Kay Cain (1910-1996) was born Katherine Tolson, daughter of John D. and Margaret Crews Tolson, in Missouri. She graduated Central College (later Central Methodist University) in Fayette, Missouri, and married writer Paul A. Cain (1911-1972). The couple lived in St. Louis before moving to Atlanta in the early 1940s. Paul Cain worked as a journalist for W. R. C. Smith Publishing. Kay Cain, a skilled photographer who had worked as a reporter in Missouri, began work as an Atlanta Constitution staff photographer in the fall of 1942. For the Constitution, Cain both accompanied reporters assigned to stories, sometimes working with Jane Noland [Graham] (1922-2002), and shot standalone human interest, real estate, and portrait photographs. Cain's work included shooting news, such as politicians and other dignitaries, as well as fashion, children, and visiting or local celebrities. With World War Two underway, Americans serving in the military and the home front were recurring elements in her Constitution work. During this time, she placed some photos in national publications such as Life, Time, and The Christian Science Monitor. In April 1944, one of Cain’s photos, showing boys supporting the war effort by collecting paper to recycle, won second prize in an American Newspapers Publishers’ Association contest. Her last photograph published in the Constitution appeared that month. The Cains later lived in Dallas, Texas, and ultimately settled in the San Francisco Bay area, where Kay Cain taught at a Montessori school. She died in San Jose, California, survived by a daughter, at the age of 86.


1.4 Linear Feet (in 3 boxes)

Language of Materials



Kay Cain (1910-1996) was a photographer for the Atlanta Constitution, 1942-1944, and her work showed the effects of World War Two on the city's population. Her papers consist of clippings of her published work and original negatives and prints. A small amount of correspondence, ephemera, and other printed material complete her papers, 1931-1944.

Provenance Information

Katherine Tolson Cain, then of San Jose, California, gave this collection to her physician, Dr. Donald Bardole.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Donald Bardole, November 2017.

Processing Information

Processed by William W. Hardesty, March 2018.


Kay Cain:
A Guide to Her Papers at Georgia State University Library
William W. Hardesty
13 March 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

100 Decatur St., S.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
404-413-2881 (Fax)