The Millsaps-Wilson library has a wide variety of special collections in many subject areas. Please read below for more information about these special collections and permanent exhibits.
Eudora Welty Collection
Named for Mississippi’s most prized author, the Eudora Welty Collection was established in Miss Welty’s honor on the occasion of her 75th birthday in 1984. Miss Welty was awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree by Millsaps in 1969. The materials included in the collection are books by and about Welty, numbering about 400. The Collection also includes first editions of all her works, autographed and donated to the library by Miss Welty. There are other first editions as well. Correspondence between Miss Welty and Lehman Engel is included in these two collections. An effort is made to include all dissertations written about her and collections of criticism or biography which include major portions about her are included as well. This collection does not include articles which appeared in periodical format. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History includes this material in its Welty collection. Welty’s connection with Millsaps includes service as Writer in Residence and as member of the College’s Board of Trustees. The College hosts a Welty Scholar on campus each spring.
Eudora Welty: A Hometown Perspective
“It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out (at a young age) that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up of themselves like grass. Yet regardless of where they came from, I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them…”
Eudora Welty, Mississippi’s most critically acclaimed living author, lived about 3 blocks from Millsaps College. She was born on April 13, 1909, and died July 23, 2001. She served as Writer in Residence at the College in 1964-65 and was an emerita member of its Board of Trustees. An active community participant, Miss Welty often attended campus functions and maintained a presence with the College, as she did with the city of Jackson at large. This page will endeavor to represent Eudora Welty and her work from the Jackson and Millsaps College perspective. The portrait shown here was painted by Jackson artist Karl Wolfe in 1982. It was commissioned by a group of Miss Welty’s friends and is on display in the Millsaps-Wilson Library.
Eudora Welty Chair in Southern Studies at Millsaps College
Each spring since 1983, Millsaps College has hosted a visiting scholar as the Eudora Welty Professor of Southern Studies.
Southern Literary Festival, 1984
In 1984 the Southern Literary Festival was held on the Millsaps campus as a celebration of Miss Welty’s 75th birthday. In addition to the other festivities of the regional conference, the Millsaps library created the Eudora Welty Collection.
Eudora Welty Film and Fiction Festival, May 1-4, 1996, Jackson, Mississippi
“..I am a writer who came from a sheltered life. A sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring starts from within.”
In 1996 a week-long conference, a special tribute to Eudora Welty, was held in Jackson, concurrently with a Writers’ Conference of the Mississippi Writers Association. The eclectic program included such diverse happenings as presentations by many authors, a Songwriters’Tribute, ceremonies at Davis School where Miss Welty attended, readings and gala affairs. Funding was provided in part by the Mississippi Arts Commission.
A speaker at this conference was Dr. Suzanne Marrs, noted Welty scholar, friend and former Welty Scholar-in-Residence at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Dr. Marrs, who reorganized the Welty Collection and wrote a finding aid (The Welty Collection, University Press of Mississippi, 1988), is a member of the Millsaps College English faculty.
Notes: The quotes shown are from One Writer’s Beginnings, as featured in a Welty Festival brochure. The photos included were taken at various Millsaps events and show Miss Welty speaking to Millsaps students and author Ellen Douglas, the 1999 Welty Scholar.
Eudora Welty, Mississippi Home Ties, April 10-13, 1997, Jackson, Mississippi
In the spring of 1997 the Eudora Welty Society and Millsaps College co-sponsored a scholarly conference entitled Eudora Welty, Mississippi Home Ties which was directed by Dr. Marrs and which drew participants from across the country and from Denmark and France as well.
Eudora Welty, Mississippi Home Ties by Dr. Suzanne Marrs
On October 8, 1998, the 92nd Street Y presented “A Tribute to Eudora Welty,” and a very fitting tribute it was. Prompted by the publication of the two-volume Library of America collection of Welty’s works, the Y invited Michael Kreyling, Ann Beattie, Richard Ford, Randall Kenan, William Maxwell, Joyce Carol Oates, and Elizabeth Spencer to speak. Maxwell unfortunately was at the last minute too ill to appear, but poet Karl Kirchwey, Director of the Unterberg Poetry Center, ably spoke in Maxwell’s stead.
Kreyling opened the evening, presenting an overview of Welty’s career and accomplishments. He was then followed on stage by the other participants, each of whom commented on and read excerpts from their favorite Welty story. Ann Beattie began by reading from “Old Mr. Marblehall” and by providing a compelling interpretation of the story. Richard Ford then presented selections from “No Place for You, My Love,” a story which he has long admired. Randall Kenan followed with a reading from “Powerhouse.” Before reading, Kenan explained that he, as an African American, had found his first encounter with “Powerhouse” somewhat off-putting, but that as he had reread and reread the story, he had come to recognize its brilliance and its powerful portrait of a narrator who intuitively longs to break free from the racism that is part of his or her make-up. Following Kenan’s presentation, Karl Kirchwey quoted from a letter William Maxwell had sent: in the letter Maxwell explained that “The Bride of the Innisfallen” was the first Welty story he, as fiction editor of the New Yorker, had convinced the magazine to accept. Kirchwey then drew upon a very convincing Irish accent in reading “The Bride of the Innisfallen” as excerpted by Maxwell. Joyce Carol Oates came next; she discussed her admiration for “Where Is the Voice Coming From,” commented on her experiences teaching the story, and read from the story. The evening’s final story was “Moon Lake,” read by Elizabeth Spencer with her delightfully appropriate Mississippi accent and her wonderful sense of comic timing. Richard Ford then returned to the stage to describe his own efforts to write for Miss Welty’s signature a letter of appreciation to the 92nd Street Y and the October 8 audience. He read briefly from his witty and Welty-like letter, but then reported that Miss Welty had been loath to sign a letter she had not herself written. She had instead, Ford told the audience, simply asked that he convey her unwritten gratitude. With that, the evening came to a close. The speakers and readers had been outstanding, the overflow crowd had been delighted, and the variety and virtuosity of Welty’s work had once again been demonstrated.
I feel fortunate to have been present and thank Michael Kreyling, Richard Ford,and the Library of America for making that possible. I also thank Michael and Richard for carefully editing the Library of America volumes and the Library of America for recognizing the genius of Eudora Welty and for making her the first living author in their series.
Resources and Links
Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium at Miss. University for Women
Photographs by Eudora Welty
Mississippi Department of Archives and History, The Papers and Manuscripts of Eudora Welty are housed and maintained by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
Eudora Welty’s Photographs
The Millsaps-Wilson Library has a standing exhibition of 18 black-and-white photographs taken by Jackson author, Eudora Welty. These 18 photographs are placed on the walls of the hall leading to the alcove as well as the walls of the alcove. The majority of these photographs were taken during the 1930s and the 1940s when Ms. Welty traveled the state of Mississippi capturing folk life subjects with her camera.
This collection of photographs was given to the Millsaps-Wilson Library by Ruth Redig Watson, class of 1948 and a Trustee of the College.
General Louis Wilson
General Louis Wilson, B.S. 1941, was born February 11, 1920, in Brandon, Mississippi, to Louis H. and Bertha Buchanan Wilson. While at the College, he competed in football and track. Wilson was commissioned a Marine officer upon graduation. As a platoon and later company commander in the Ninth Marine Regiment, Third Marine Division, he took part in a number of combat operations in the Pacific, including the invasion of Guam during the Marianas campaign in 1944. It was on Guam that Captain Wilson took part in a two-day company action that resulted in his being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Returning stateside to recover from wounds sustained in that action, he was assigned to the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. Later that year he married his Millsaps sweetheart, Jane Clark, of Pearson, Mississippi.
Already a major at the end of the war, Wilson elected to stay in the service and rose through the field grade and general officer ranks. His duty postings included battalion and regimental commands, a stint at the National War College, and overseas service in South Korea and South Vietnam. He was named commandant of the Marine Corps in 1975 by President Gerald Ford.
Following his retirement in 1979, Wilson sat on a number of corporate boards. He and his wife lived in Jackson at the time, and later moved to San Marino, California. The Wilsons eventually returned to the South, settling in Birmingham to be near their only child, Janet Wilson Taylor, an attorney and mother of two.
Wilson was made a trustee of Millsaps College in 1978 and was made a life trustee in 1990. Wilson’s military decorations included the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with Combat “V” and two Gold Stars, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Purple Heart Medal with two Gold Stars and the Presidential Unit Citation with Bronze Battle Star. His civilian honors included the Gold Medal from the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame (1977), the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement, the Outstanding American Award from the Los Angeles Philanthropic Foundation, the Iron Mike Award from the Marine Corps League, the City of New York Silver Seal, Distinguished Achievement Award from Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity (1946), Outstanding Mississippian Award (1974), and Omicron Delta Kappa from Millsaps College (1976). He was also inducted into the Millsaps College Sports Hall of Fame in 1980.
General Louis Wilson died Tuesday, June 21 2005 at the age of 85 at his home in Birmingham.
Exhibit in the Millsaps-Wilson Library
“Millsaps has always meant a great deal to me. I had never really considered going anywhere else to college. But Millsaps in those days, as now, had a splendid reputation for its academic work; the achievements of its graduates.”
Louis H. Wilson, 1941, Trustee, Retired Commandant, United States Marine Corps
Items in the exhibit include:
- 1941 Commencement program
- Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity pin
- General Wilson’s garrison cap
- Service decorations, 1942-1979
- Home of the Commandants
- The Medal of Honor
- Third Marine Division shoulder patch and Captain’s bars
- Foreign Decorations
- Korean Order of National Security Merit,
- GUK-SEON Medal, 2nd Class
In the video below, Col. William J. Bowers, commanding officer, 6th Marine Corps Recruiting District, speaks with students about the transformational Leadership of Gen. Louis Wilson, 26th commandant of the Marine Corps.
The King R. Johnson, Jr. History Collection
A gift from the family of the late King R. Johnson, Jr. of Madison, has greatly enhanced the history holdings of the Millsaps-Wilson Library. Comprised of nearly 4000 volumes, Mr. Johnson’s collection is focused on warfare from ancient to modern times. The works include scholarly and popular explorations of many aspects of warfare including not only strategy and logistics, but social, cultural, and political implications as well. In addition to the volumes of military history, the collection also includes maps, works on general history, and a number of books on the Titanic.
The Lehman Engel Collection
The Lehman Engel Collection is named for its donor, A. Lehman Engel, (1910-1982) a Jackson-born musician, composer, conductor, author and teacher. The collection consists of his personal library which he transferred to Millsaps over a period of 20 years, the balance being willed to the library upon his death in 1982. Numbering approximately 3,000 volumes, the collection is strong in the arts, particularly music and literature, but it is quite eclectic with an interesting variety that reflects its collector. Mr. Engel, who was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by Millsaps in 1971, also donated his collection of LP recordings which is equally strong on the musical theatre. A classmate and friend of renowned author Eudora Welty, Mr. Engel graduated from Central High School in Jackson and is buried in Beth Israel cemetery near the Millsaps campus. The library owns copies of correspondence between Mr. Engel and Miss Welty.
The Paul Ramsey Collection
The books in this collection were willed to the Millsaps library by Dr. Paul Ramsey, a Millsaps graduate and noted scholar and author, who died in 1988. Dr. Ramsey wrote and taught ethics, specifically, applied ethics and the approximately 2500 books in the collection feature medical and other issues with marked social impact. He was born in Mendenhall, Mississippi in 1913 and earned his B.A. from Millsaps in 1935. He served on the Millsaps faculty from 1937 to 1939, teaching history and social science. He earned his Ph.D. from Yale University Divinity School and he was on the faculty at Princeton University at the time of his death.
The Kellogg Collection of Children’s Books
Named for the foundation which has on two occasions awarded the Millsaps library grants, the Kellogg Collection consists of approximately 1,000 children’s books which are generally selected as being representative or which were award-winning titles. Fiction titles predominate and there is an emphasis on elementary and middle school levels. The collection features a good representation of Newbery and Caldecott Award books. The Kellogg Foundation’s first award to the College and the library was a grant in the mid-1960s used to purchase books in the field of education, of which these children’s books were a part. The second grant in 1977 provided the library’s first library computer network activity for the Millsaps library by funding the initial membership in the OCLC international network.
The Harmon L. Smith Collection
This collection, consisting of approximately 1,500 volumes pertaining to Christian ethics, was a gift of Dr. Harmon L. Smith, Emeritus Professor of Moral Theology of the Divinity School, Duke University. Dr. Smith, a 1952 graduate of Millsaps College, donated the collection in 1999 upon his retirement from Duke University. At the same time he established the Harmon L. Smith Lecture Series. The collection contains many books on medical as well as general ethics issues.
The Roland Freeman Portfolio
The Millsaps library owns a collection of 12 photographs by Roland Freeman, published by Diogenese, Inc. and The University of Mississippi Center for the Study of Southern Culture. Mr. Freeman held the Millsaps College Eudora Welty Visiting Scholar Chair in the spring of 1997, when a combined exhibit of his and Miss Welty’s photographs was held on campus. These photos, which were a gift of the photographer, are displayed in the library’s information commons:
1. Peter, East Baltimore, Maryland, June, 1969
2. Community of Elders, Mississippi, July 1975
3. Cigar Box Fiddler Scott Dunbar, Mississippi, July 1975
4. Gandy Dancers (railroad workers), Mississippi, August 1976
5. Sunday Baseball Game, near Buffalo, Mississippi, September
6. Shopping on Gay Street, East Baltimore, Maryland, 1973
7. In the Sand Hills, Near Bennettsville, South Carolina, 1979
8. Hallway of Polk Home, Americus, Georgia, April 1971
9. Getting Acquainted, Sunday Afternoon in Druid Hill Park,
Baltimore,Maryland, August 1973
10. Howard University Student, Washington, D.C., June 1979
11. Before Sunday Evening Service, St. Helena Island, South
12. Mrs. Viola Allen, Africatown, Alabama, November 1985.
The Rare Book Collection
The Millsaps library maintains a small collection of books which are curious, special or rare. Numbering about 2,500, these books have normally been donations to the library or were discovered to be among older titles in the collection. Some interesting examples of titles in the collection are: A Christopher Barker edition of The Bible, published in 1583; Sir Walter Raleigh’s The Historie of the World in Five Books, published in 1666; and A History of Negro Baptists in Mississippi, by Patrick Thompson, published in 1895.