USM Special Collections receives grant for conservation work

USM Special Collections receives grant for conservation work | Pro Club Bd

Fri, 07/22/2022 – 08:08 a.m | By: David Tisdale

The important work of providing access to historical material in the Special Collections Division of the University Libraries at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) receives a boost from grants from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), a statutory body dedicated to the affiliated with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The mission of the NHPRC is to promote the preservation and use of the country’s documentary heritage, which is essential to understanding the country’s democracy, history and culture.

The grant – $135,828 from NHPRC, with $70,178 in kind from USM to improve access to collections – will support the processing, digitization and development of finding aids for existing collections significant to Mississippi history and culture. Selected material will be digitized and presented in online presentations.

Collections selected for the grant include:

Raylawni branch collection: Branch is a Hattiesburg-born civil rights activist who, along with Gwendolyn Armstrong Chamberlain, incorporated USM as its first African-American students in the 1960s.

Emilye Crosby Civil Rights Collection: dr Crosby was coordinator of SUNY’s Black Studies/Africana program from 2002 to 2018 and won the McLemore Prize for her first book, A Little Taste of Freedom: The Black Freedom Struggle in Claiborne County, Mississippi.

Mary Ann Wells Collection: Wells, worked at the Hattiesburg American Newspaper from 1977 to 1981 as an award-winning photojournalist, reporter and weekly columnist.

Henry Lee Rodgers Papers: Rodgers served as a justice on the Mississippi Supreme Court from 1960 to 1976. Previously, from 1946 to 1950, he was District Attorney for the 5th Circuit of the Judicial Court and before that in private practice. Before becoming a judge, he served as a district judge. The collection documents this epoch of the country’s judicial history

Harvey Edward West Collection: West served as chief of staff to Mississippi Governor Paul B. Johnson (1964-1968), whose administration oversaw a period of economic and industrial growth and rising racial tensions in the state.

O’Keefe Family Archives: The archive documents the family’s prominent role in the political, business, and philanthropic arenas of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Sheila Michaels Papers, 1963-1999: Michaels was a civil rights activist and feminist who joined the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in 1961 and the following year worked for both CORE and SNCC in Jackson, where she also worked very briefly for the Mississippi Free Press. During Freedom Summer 1964, she was project manager of the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) Hattiesburg Project.

Collection Sue Sojourner, 1974-2014: Sojourner was a prominent Mississippi civil rights activist, initially in Holmes County, and later made history by helping organize the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), whose delegation notoriously challenged and defected from the Democratic National Convention, and brought them with them is attributed via the Voters Rights Act of 1965. After leaving the state in 1969, she settled in Washington, DC with her husband Henry, took the surname “Sojourner” and became involved in the women’s liberation and lesbian movements.

Tasha Tudor Collection: Celebrated author and illustrator Tudor began her career in 1938 illustrating children’s books, writing and illustrating fairy tales, nursery rhymes and stories. In addition to numerous other prizes and honors, two of her works, mother goose and 1 is onewere called Caldecott Honor Books.

Tana Hoban Papers, 1938-2006: Hoban began her career in advertising and magazine illustration. As the daughter of Russian immigrants, she was one of the first in her field to photograph people of different ethnicities. By 1950 her work was included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, and by 1953 she was the only woman to be mentioned in one time Half a Century of American Photography Magazine Portfolio. In 1959 she was named one of the top ten female photographers by the Professional Photographers of America.

George Edward Stanley Collection, 1984-2010: Stanley has written more than 100 books for children and young adults, including his critically acclaimed one rats in the attic and night fires. Stanley wrote his early series Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys under pseudonyms. A permanent contributor to the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection, the bulk of his collection was added to the inventory after his death in 2011.

Special Collections offers a variety of historical resources ranging from 15th-century illuminated manuscripts to Civil War letters, civil rights documents, and contemporary Mississippiana. It consists of four units: university archives; Rare Books and Mississippiana; historical manuscripts; and the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection.

Associate Professor of University Libraries Lorraine A. Stuart, Head of Special Collections/Curator of Historical Manuscripts and Archives, will lead the two-year fellowship project, which will not only expand access to the collections, but also provide diverse opportunities for hands-on preservation and presentation experiences for USM students in Library and Information Sciences and Humanities.

“This project will help make them (students) very marketable in our field because when they complete their academic program they would have the work of editing collections, developing online locators of the materials and creating Online shows done,” said Stuart.

For more information on university libraries and special collections, see

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