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J.D. Williams Library offers new archive exhibit

By Christina Steube

University of Mississippi

An untitled play by William Faulkner, a Civil War soldier’s diary and  promotional materials for several famed blues artists are among dozens of artifacts in “Hot Off the Press: New and Newly Available Archive Collections” at the University of Mississippi’s Archives and Special Collections in the J.D. Williams Library.

The exhibit, which is open in the library’s Faulkner Room through Dec. 16, features items from the library’s literary, historical, blues and political collections, some of which have never before been displayed.

“This display is a new twist on the treasures exhibits done in previous years,” said Jennifer Ford, head of Archives and Special Collections. “The showcased items are from recent collection gifts to the department, as well as newly processed collections now available for use by researchers.”

One literary case boasts an untitled play written by Faulkner early in his life. It also contains a letter about Faulkner’s great grandfather’s, Colonel William Clark Falkner, written by attorney Thomas Spight regarding Falkner’s murder.

Other literary pieces are featured include works by Mississippi author Eudora Welty and contemporary pieces by UM English professors Beth Ann Fennelly and Tom Franklin.

Other historical pieces include a revealing diary from a soldier in the 15th Mississippi Infantry Regiment, as well as documents relating to the final days of the Civil War in Mississippi.

Blues archivist Greg Johnson has highlighted a number of music collections, including that of the Rosebud Agency, which represented artists such as Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Luther Allison and Trombone Shorty. The agency was in operation from 1976 to 2014, and founder and owner Mike Kappus donated materials to the library’s permanent collections.

Arthur Kreutz, a composer, conductor, violinist and professor of music composition at Ole Miss from 1951 to 1965, is the subject of another display that includes several of his compositions, including his opera “The University Greys.”

The Modern Political Archives has installed eight cases that explore the congressional collection of U.S. Sen. James O. Eastland, who represented Mississippi in 1941 and 1943-1978. Eastland also chaired the Judiciary Committee from 1956 to 1978.

Included in the exhibit are campaign materials, legislation and memorabilia, including presidential documents and letters from notable individuals such as Apollo 13 astronaut and Mississippi native Fred Haise, actor John Wayne and Mississippi artist Theora Hamblett.

“Although congressional collections such as Eastland’s might at first seem only useful to biographers and political historians, they actually have a much wider application,” said Leigh McWhite, political papers archivist and associate professor. “The papers are a great resource on local history and public works projects within the state, and researchers can examine correspondence for grassroots opinions on a wide array of national, state and local topics.”