This series explores the life of Dunbar Rowland (1864-1937), first director of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. He served from 1902 to 1937.

Dunbar and Eron Rowland gravesite at Cedarlawn Cemetery in Jackson

Dunbar and Eron Rowland gravesite at Cedarlawn Cemetery in Jackson

Dunbar Rowland died on November 1, 1937 at the age of seventy-three. Despite being in ill health for months, he continued working until the summer of 1937, when he went to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore to seek treatment for his chronic throat infection. He was also a patient at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia and Methodist Hospital in Memphis (where his nephew Dr. Peter Whitman Rowland was employed). He returned to Jackson and, refusing to be admitted to a hospital in the city, had his home library set up as a hospital ward. He died surrounded by his books.

His funeral was a grand affair in that Governor Hugh White and most other high ranking state officials attended the ceremony, which was officiated by Bishop Theodore D. Bratton and Dr. Walter B. Capers. The governor ordered all state offices closed from 2:00-4:00 p.m. that day “as a mark of respect to Dr. Rowland” and state flags on both capitols were lowered to half mast from November 1 until after the funeral on November 2, 1937.1

Tributes and obituaries appeared in many of the area newspapers. The Coffeeville Courier said, “Yalobusha County lost a dear friend and the State and Nation a noted historian and gentleman.”2 The Daily Clarion-Ledger said, “Death, coming in the form of a chronic throat ailment, stilled the stout heart and the fluent pen of Dr. Dunbar Rowland.”3 The Memphis Commercial Appeal said:

In death Dr. Rowland displayed the same courage and devotion that distinguished him in life. He bore his long suffering with fortitude and when told that there was no hope, he asked that he be returned to Jackson, there to lay down his burden amid the scenes of his long and useful labors.4

The blog series on Dunbar Rowland will conclude with the next post which will feature special guest writer former governor William F. Winter as he discusses a boyhood meeting with Rowland.

Dunbar and Eron Rowland gravesite at Cedarlawn Cemetery in Jackson

Dunbar and Eron Rowland gravesite at Cedarlawn Cemetery in Jackson

1 “Friends pay tribute to Dr. Dunbar Rowland,” Daily Clarion-Ledger, November 3, 1937, page 5. Roll number 28945 (MDAH).

2 “Dunbar Rowland dies in Jackson,” Coffeeville Courier, November 5, 1937, page 1. Roll number 18256 (MDAH).
3 “Rowland rites mark end of literary career here,” Daily Clarion-Ledger, November 2, 1937, page 1, 12. Roll number 28945 (MDAH).
4 “Dr. Dunbar Rowland, historian, dies at 73,” Commercial Appeal, November, 2, 1937, page 1, 4. Roll number 31737 (MDAH).