Born on May 15,1890, Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Katherine Anne Porter was not a Mississippian but a native Texan. However, she championed one of Mississippi's most celebrated authors, Eudora Welty, helping to propel her early career. Porter took notice of the young Mississippi author after the publication of the short story "Death of A Traveling Salesman" in 1936. She served as one of Welty's mentors in these early years and this relationship evolved into a lasting friendship. In 1941 Porter penned her famous introduction to Welty's first critical work, A Curtain of Green, and asserted "there is even in the smallest story a sense of power in reserve which makes me believe firmly that, splendid beginning that it is, it is only the beginning."
The University's Department of Archives and Special Collections invites donations from UM alumni, visitors, faculty, staff, current students, and any others who have archival materials related to the history of previous UM commencements. We are seeking to further augment the existing archival UM commencement collections with donations of programs, written memories about past speakers, invitations, news clippings, photographs, ephemera, audio, and any other related archival memorabilia.
Please contact Dr. Jennifer Ford, Head of Special Collections (firstname.lastname@example.org or 662.915.7408), to inquire about donation or with questions about this initiative.
The first “commencement” at the University of Mississippi took place in July 1849 at the end of the new university’s first academic year -- although with no graduates, the institution conferred no degrees. In the words of University historian, Dr. David Sansing, the four-day event surrounding the official program included “sumptuous banquets, a commencement ball, and many speeches..and was a gala celebration." The 1849 address was given by Alexander M. Clayton and Acting University President Albert Taylor Bledsoe. James Jones Quarles was a member of the first graduating class (only fifteen students) in 1851, and he received the very first diploma issued by the university.
Born on May 5, 1942, country music legend Tammy Wynette would have been 75 today. Known as the “First Lady of Country Music,” the Tremont, Mississippi native became one of the best-selling female artists in country music. She had over twenty songs hitting the top spot in the country music charts through the years. Born Virginia Wynette Pugh, Wynette settled on her stage name on the advice of her producer Billy Sherrill who thought she bore a resemblance to the character "Tammy" from the hit movie Tammy and the Bachelor.
In late April 1937, Mississippi's Blue Mountain College hosted the first Southern Literary Festival on its campus. Not only did this momentous event begin a tradition which has endured until this day, the 1937 meeting featured Robert Penn Warren as the keynote speaker. Warren, then a professor at LSU, was one of the founders of this organization of Southern colleges and schools designed to help promote Southern literature. The poet and author would go on to receive a Pulitzer Prize only ten years later for his book All the King's Men, as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1958 and 1979.
Eudora Alice Welty was born in Jackson, MS on April 13, 1909 and would have been 108 today. An author of prodigious talent, she penned ten collected works of short stories, six novels, and two volumes of essays during her lifetime, receiving international recognition for her work.
Welty's first short story, "Death of a Traveling Salesman", was published in 1936 and only five years later her short story collection, A Curtain of Green, was released. This work included such iconic short stories as "Why I Live at the P.O.", "Petrified Man", and "A Worn Path." The latter won second place for the 1941 O. Henry Award, whose volumes were edited by fellow Mississippian Herschel Brickell. Welty went on to win first place in 1942, 1943,and 1968.
On March 31-April 2, 1989 The University of Mississippi held "The Civil Rights Movement and the Law: A National Symposium" to examine and assess the effects of civil rights litigation on contemporary law and society. The event was coordinated and sponsored by the University of Mississippi's School of Law and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture who received grant support from the Ford Foundation.
The first annual Oxford Conference for the Book was held from April 2- 4, 1993 on the University of Mississippi campus. Speakers at the historic event included several significant literary figures: Larry Brown, Willie Morris, William Styron, Barry Hannah, George Plimpton, Kaye Gibbons and many others. Other speakers included booksellers, marketing professionals, and book enthusiasts, such as: Shannon Ravenel of Algonquin Books; John Y. Cole of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress; and Oren Teicher, then president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, among others.