[Mississippi History Newsletter Online.]

A MDAH Publication  |  Volume 44 No. 9  |  September 2002

National Advisory Board Convenes

The Eudora Welty Foundation, a support organization for the Eudora Welty House museum and Eudora Welty Collection, has appointed a National Advisory Board. The board, composed of nationally known individuals who had personal connections to Eudora Welty, will have its first meeting in September in Jackson. Both the Eudora Welty House and the Eudora Welty Collection are administered by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

"The efforts of the Eudora Welty Foundation will be enhanced by the National Advisory Board, leaders from many fields and professions who wish to honor the life and work of Eudora Welty," said James L. Moore, Jackson, chairman of the Welty Foundation Board of Directors.

The members of the new National Advisory Board are Clancy Collins, senior vice president of MGM WorldwideTelevision Group, Santa Monica, Calif.;Gary Collins, actor and television personality, Beverly Hills, Calif.; Dr. William Ferris, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities and currently professor of history and associate director of the Center for the American South at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Mary Chapin Carpenter, Grammy-winning singer/songwriter, Nashville,Tn.; John Grisham, novelist, Charlottesville,Va.; Rae Hederman, publisher, New York Review of Books; Dr. Dan Jordan, president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Va.; Jim Lehrer, writer and the host of the PBS News Hour, Arlington, Va.; Mary Ann Mobley, actress and humanitarian, Beverly Hills, Calif.; Roger Mudd, television commentator and History Channel host, McLean, Va.; Reynolds Price, novelist, Durham, North Carolina; Bruno Quinson, retired CEO of Henry Holt & Company and past chairman of the National Book Foundationís board, New York; Tim Seldes, Eudora Weltyís agent at Russell & Volkening, New York; Susan Shreve, president of PEN/Faulkner Foundation, Washington, D.C.; Janice Trimble, honorary trustee, Millsaps College, Jackson, and member, Womenís Board and Visiting Committee to the Humanities Division, University of Chicago; and Alfred Uhry, award-winning playwright, New York.

At the September meeting Dr. Dan Jordan will speak on the role of the national advisory board in non-profit groups.

Members of the Welty Foundation Board of Directors are Holmes S. Adams, Donna Dye (secretary), Carmel Lopez-Lampton, Suzanne Marrs, James L. Moore (chairman), Roger Parrott, Rowan H. Taylor, Harry M. Walker, Elizabeth Welty Thompson, and William F. Winter.


9/11 Materials Donated


Nancy Bounds, reference librarian (left) assisted Caroline Hicks, who is donating materials to the MDAH subject file about her son, Col. Jerry Don Dickerson, who was killed in the wing of the Pentagon destroyed by the hijacked airliner last September 11.

Mrs. Hicks reports that, contrary to widespread news reports, her son did not live in Durant, Mississippi, but grew up in Yazoo County. Col. Dickersonís father, Jerry Dickerson, lives in Durant.


MDAH Special Events for September

Copper Magnolia Festival (Historic Jefferson College, Washington): Saturday, September 21. Annual crafts fair features handmade crafts, food, and entertainment for children. Free admission. For more information call 601/ 442-2901.

Bark in the Park (Grand Village of the Natchez Indians, Natchez): Saturday, September 28, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Annual fund-raiser for the Natchez Humane Society. Admission fee to attend dog show. For more information call 601/ 446-6502.

Student Days (Grand Village of the Natchez Indians): September 19-20. Fourth-grade classes from local and regional schools will learn about Native American culture, archaeology, and nature studies. For more information call 601/ 446-6502.

Manships Under Siege (Manship House Museum, Jackson): Saturday, September 21, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Union and Confederate Civil War reenactors camp on the grounds of the Manship House Museum. Learn what life was like for soldiers during the Civil War. Free of charge. For information call 601/ 961-4724.


New Books

In An Alston Saga, Jackson attorney Alex A. Alston, Jr., chronicles the remarkable story of the Alston family, beginning in the seventeenth century when young John Alston left the comforts of England for the Carolina wilderness. Alstonís descendants fought in the American Revolution, traveled west to frontier Mississippi, fought for the Confederacy, and finally made their way to the Mississippi Delta, where the authorís grandfather became a notorious outlaw during the late 1800s. The book closes with the authorís recollections of his own childhood in the Delta town Hollandale during the 1940s and 1950s, his career as a lawyer, and the births of his children and grandchildren. Copies are $25 and can be ordered from Alex Alston, P. O. Drawer 119, Jackson, MS 39205.

More Books >>

MHS Seeks Submissions

The Missississippi Historical Society (MHS) is seeking submissions for the following awards, which will be presented at the Societyís annual meeting February 27-March 1, 2003, in Jackson. For more information on the awards, please call the MHS at 601/ 359-6850.

The McLemore Prize, which carries a $700 stipend, is given to the best book on a subject related to Mississippi history published during the previous year. To enter, submit four copies of a published book to McLemore Prize, MHS, P. O. Box 571, Jackson, MS 39205, by October 31. Manuscript or proof copies may be submitted only for books published between October 31 and December 31. Works should be well researched in a scholarly manner that includes footnotes and bibliography. Works of original scholarship will be given preference over edited works.

The John K. Bettersworth Award is given annually to an outstanding teacher of middle school or high school history in Mississippi.The winning teacher is given a $100 cash award and is invited as the Societyís guest to attend its annual meeting. To enter, request a nomination form from MHS; the deadline for nominations is December 1.

The Frank E. Everett, Jr. Award is given annually as merited to a local historical organization that, as a member of the Federation of Mississippi Historical Societies, has made an outstanding contribution to the preservation and interpretation of Mississippi history. The winning society is given a $300 cash award. To be eligible, a society must have been a member of the Federation for at least two years. Request nomination forms from MHS. The deadline is October 31.

The James T. Dawson Award is presented annually as merited to a local government in Mississippi with an exemplary records management program. A local government eligible for the award may be a municipality, a county, or a school district. Request nomination forms from MHS; the deadline is December 1.

The Glover Moore Prize, which carries a $300 cash award, is awarded annually if merited to the author of the best masterís thesis on a topic in Mississippi history completed during the previous year. To enter, submit four copies to Glover Moore Prize, MHS, before the December 1 deadline. Theses will be judged on originality and sophistication of concept, design, and methodology; effective use of evidence; clarity and precision of style; and significance of the workís contribution toward an understanding of Mississippi history.

The Riley Prize, which carries a $500 stipend, is awarded biennially for a doctoral dissertation on a topic in Mississippi history or biography completed during the previous two years. The next prize will be awarded in 2003. To enter, submit four copies to the Riley Prize, MHS, by December 1. Dissertations will be judged on originality of concept, design, and methodology; compilation and effective use of evidence; clarity and precision of style; and significance of the dissertationís contribution toward an understanding of Mississippi history.


Hall of Fame Dedication: Burnita Shelton Matthews

The portrait of the Honorable Burnita Shelton Matthews will be dedicated to the Mississippi Hall of Fame on Sunday, September 15, at 3 p.m. in the House of Representatives Chamber at the Old Capitol Museum, Jackson.

Burnita Shelton Matthews was the first woman to be appointed and confirmed as a federal trial judge in the United States. Born in 1894 in Copiah County, she received her law degree from the National University Law School in Washington, D.C., and was admitted to the bar in 1920. Unable to find a private firm or government agency that would hire a woman, Matthews opened her own practice. She became an ardent suffragist and feminist. In 1949 President Harry Truman appointed Matthews to the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., where she served until taking senior status in 1968. During this time Matthews served by designation on the U.S. Court of Appeals as well as on the U.S. District Court. She retired from the bench in September 1983. During her distinguished career Matthews presided over several noteworthy legal actions including the bribery trial of Jimmy Hoffa and the passport denial of singer and communist activist Paul Robeson. President Ronald Reagan wrote that her "diligence, distinguished efforts, and pioneering spirit serve as an inspiration to us all."

The public is invited to the presentation ceremony. For more information call 601/ 359-6920.


Mary Alice White: New Welty House Director

Mary Alice White has been named the first director of the Eudora Welty House Museum, scheduled to open in fiscal year 2005. She officially assumed her new position Monday, August 12. White is a niece of Eudora Welty. The Welty House Museum, a property of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, will be under the supervision of the Departmentís Museum Division, headed by Lucy Allen.

Mary Alice White, a native of Jackson and a graduate of the University of Mississippi, taught history in the Jackson Public School system and most recently served as director of admissions at Jackson Preparatory School.

"I am excited to be here at the beginning of this process. Eudora was very connected with this place, and its future role as a literary house museum will offer a unique experience to visitors and admirers," said White.

As director, White will oversee the planning for the opening of the Welty House Museum. Her first assignment will be preparing the house and garden for a visit by the Eudora Welty Foundationís new National Advisory Board.

"I am delighted that Mary Alice White has accepted this position," said MDAH director Elbert R. Hilliard. "I can think of no one better suited for the job. Mary Alice has worked closely with the Eudora Welty Foundation and has a strong background in education, experience in fundraising and working with volunteers, and, most importantly, a lifelong acquaintance with Miss Welty. I am certain we will accomplish great things with Mary Alice as the head of the Welty House Museum."

Eudora Welty had a long relationship with the Department of Archives and History, making in 1957 her first donation of manuscripts, papers, and photographs. She continued to donate materials to MDAH until her death at age 92 on July 23, 2001. Today the Eudora Welty Collection is one of the most important archival collections in the world. In 1986 she made the decision that the state should have her house at her death, and the Department is now working to establish the property as a literary house museum that will interpret her life and work to visitors from around the world.

The Welty House Museum, besides offering regular tours of the house and garden, will offer year-round programs and exhibits, sponsor scholarships, awards, and publications, and serve as an inspiring locale for important regional literary events. If funding permits, MDAH hopes to have the house open to the public in Fiscal Year 2005.

Fund raising is in progress to restore and renovate the Welty House, restore the garden, develop a visitors center, and provide support staff for the house museum. Since much of the administration and implementation of the Welty House and garden project is funded by donations, MDAH has applied for a three-to-one matching grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Tax-deductible gifts toward this effort should be sent to the Eudora Welty Foundation, NEH Challenge Grant, P. O. Box 55685, Jackson, MS 39296-5685.

Contributors, Eudora Welty Foundation>>


During the last month callers to MDAH wondered about the first U.S. president to visit Mississippi. The earliest documentation that we have is President William McKinley, who came through on a whistle-stop tour in April/ May of 1901, and stopped at Jackson, Corinth, and cotton-mill towns óed.

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Published by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History • Elbert R. Hilliard, director • Chrissy Wilson, editor
Please send correspondence to: MHN, P.O. Box 571, Jackson, MS 39205 or email to pubinfo@mdah.state.ms.us