The collection of seven films of Eudora Welty reading her fiction and commenting about her work was donated to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in 2006. The 16mm films were shot in Jackson in 1974-5 for an episode of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) series The Writer in America. They contain approximately three hours of raw footage by director/producer Richard O. Moore of Mill Valley, California, as well as the twenty-nine minute documentary aired by WNET, the public broadcasting station in New York. The footage shows Welty reading several of her stories, as well as Welty in her house, in her garden, and driving through Jackson. Works included in the gift are "A Worn Path," "Why I Live at the P.O.," "Keela, the Outcast Maiden," "Petrified Man," "Powerhouse," "The Wanderers," and Losing Battles excerpts.
The films were stored at a National Endowment for the Arts facility in Washington, D.C., until they were rediscovered in 2006. Dana Gioia, chairman of the NEA, presented them to MDAH, calling the find "one of the greatest literary discoveries of the last decade." The NEA also provided $10,000 to conserve the films and make high-quality digital copies for use in the Department's media reading room and for distribution to high school and college teachers of Welty's fiction.
In 1957 Eudora Welty donated a collection of her manuscripts, papers, and photographs to the Department of Archives and History. She continued to donate materials to MDAH the rest of her life. Today the Eudora Welty Collection is an important archival resource for scholars and students around the world. Welty won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for The Optimist's Daughter and received critical acclaim for her Depression-era photographs of Mississippi. For more information on the Eudora Welty Collection at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History visit the on-line catalog.