Special Collections & Exhibits

The Millsaps-Wilson Library has a wide variety of special collections in many subject areas. Please read below for more information about these special collections and permanent exhibits.

Eudora Welty Collection

Named for Mississippi’s most prized author, the Eudora Welty Collection was established in Welty’s honor on the occasion of her 75th birthday in 1984. Welty was awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree by Millsaps in 1969. The materials included in the collection are books by and about Welty, numbering about 400. The collection also includes first editions of all her works, autographed and donated to the library by Welty. There are other first editions as well. Correspondence between Welty and Lehman Engel is included in these two collections. An effort has been made to include all dissertations written about her and collections of criticism or biography which include major portions about her are included as well. This collection does not include articles which appeared in periodical format. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History includes this material in its Welty collection. Welty’s connection with Millsaps includes service as Writer in Residence and as member of the college’s board of trustees. The college hosts a Welty Scholar on campus each spring.

Eudora Welty at Millsaps College

Eudora Welty, Mississippi’s most critically acclaimed living author, lived about 3 blocks from Millsaps College. She was born on April 13, 1909, and died July 23, 2001. She served as Writer in Residence at the college in 1964-65 and was an emerita member of its Board of Trustees. An active community participant, Welty often attended campus functions and maintained a presence with the college, as she did with the city of Jackson at large. This page will endeavor to represent Eudora Welty and her work from the Jackson and Millsaps College perspective. A portrait, painted by Jackson artist Karl Wolfe in 1982, was commissioned by a group of Welty’s friends and is on display in the Millsaps-Wilson Library.

Eudora Welty Chair in Southern Studies at Millsaps College

Since 1983, Millsaps has hosted several visiting scholars as the Eudora Welty Professor of Southern Studies. Dr. Michael Pickard serves as the Eudora Welty Scholar for Southern Literature, a permanent tenured faculty position at Millsaps.

Southern Literary Festival, 1984

In 1984, the Southern Literary Festival was held on the Millsaps campus as a celebration of Welty’s 75th birthday. In addition to the other festivities of the regional conference, the Millsaps library created the Eudora Welty Collection.

Eudora Welty Film and Fiction Festival, May 1-4, 1996, Jackson, Mississippi

In 1996, a weeklong conference, a special tribute to Eudora Welty, was held in Jackson, concurrently with a Writers’ Conference of the Mississippi Writers Association. The eclectic program included such diverse happenings as presentations by many authors, a Songwriters’ Tribute, ceremonies at Davis School where Welty attended, readings and gala affairs. Funding was provided in part by the Mississippi Arts Commission.

A speaker at this conference was Dr. Suzanne Marrs, noted Welty scholar, friend and former Welty Scholar-in-Residence at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Marrs, who reorganized the Welty Collection and wrote a finding aid (The Welty Collection, University Press of Mississippi, 1988), retired in 2015 as the Eudora Welty Scholar-in-Residence at Millsaps College.

Eudora Welty, Mississippi Home Ties, April 10-13, 1997, Jackson, Mississippi

In the spring of 1997, the Eudora Welty Society and Millsaps College co-sponsored a scholarly conference entitled “Eudora Welty, Mississippi Home Ties” which was directed by Marrs and which drew participants from across the country and from Denmark and France as well.

Eudora Welty, Mississippi Home Ties by Dr. Suzanne Marrs

On October 8, 1998, the 92nd Street Y presented “A Tribute to Eudora Welty,” and a very fitting tribute it was. Prompted by the publication of the two-volume Library of America collection of Welty’s works, the Y invited Michael Kreyling, Ann Beattie, Richard Ford, Randall Kenan, William Maxwell, Joyce Carol Oates, and Elizabeth Spencer to speak. Maxwell unfortunately was at the last minute too ill to appear, but poet Karl Kirchwey, Director of the Unterberg Poetry Center, ably spoke in Maxwell’s stead.

Eudora Welty’s Photographs

The Millsaps-Wilson Library has a standing exhibition of 18 black-and-white photographs taken by Jackson author, Eudora Welty. These 18 photographs are placed on the walls of the hall leading to the alcove as well as the walls of the alcove. The majority of these photographs were taken during the 1930s and the 1940s when Welty traveled the state of Mississippi capturing folk life subjects with her camera.

This collection of photographs was given to the Millsaps-Wilson Library by Ruth Redig Watson, class of 1948 and a Trustee of the college.

General Louis Wilson Exhibit

General Louis Wilson, B.S. 1941, was born February 11, 1920, in Brandon, Mississippi, to Louis H. and Bertha Buchanan Wilson. While at the college, he competed in football and track. Wilson was commissioned a Marine officer upon graduation. As a platoon and later company commander in the Ninth Marine Regiment, Third Marine Division, he took part in a number of combat operations in the Pacific, including the invasion of Guam during the Marianas campaign in 1944. It was on Guam that Captain Wilson took part in a two-day company action that resulted in his being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Returning stateside to recover from wounds sustained in that action, he was assigned to the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. Later that year he married his Millsaps sweetheart, Jane Clark, of Pearson, Mississippi.

Already a major at the end of the war, Wilson elected to stay in the service and rose through the field grade and general officer ranks. His duty postings included battalion and regimental commands, a stint at the National War College, and overseas service in South Korea and South Vietnam. He was named commandant of the Marine Corps in 1975 by President Gerald Ford.

Following his retirement in 1979, Wilson sat on a number of corporate boards. He and his wife lived in Jackson at the time, and later moved to San Marino, California. The Wilsons eventually returned to the South, settling in Birmingham to be near their only child, Janet Wilson Taylor, an attorney and mother of two.

Wilson was made a trustee of Millsaps College in 1978 and was made a life trustee in 1990. Wilson’s military decorations included the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with Combat “V” and two Gold Stars, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Purple Heart Medal with two Gold Stars and the Presidential Unit Citation with Bronze Battle Star. His civilian honors included the Gold Medal from the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame (1977), the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement, the Outstanding American Award from the Los Angeles Philanthropic Foundation, the Iron Mike Award from the Marine Corps League, the City of New York Silver Seal, Distinguished Achievement Award from Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity (1946), Outstanding Mississippian Award (1974) and Omicron Delta Kappa from Millsaps College (1976). He was also inducted into the Millsaps College Sports Hall of Fame in 1980.

General Louis Wilson died Tuesday, June 21, 2005 at the age of 85 at his home in Birmingham.


“Millsaps has always meant a great deal to me. I had never really considered going anywhere else to college. But Millsaps in those days, as now, had a splendid reputation for its academic work; the achievements of its graduates.”

Louis H. Wilson, 1941, Trustee, Retired Commandant, United States Marine Corps


Items in the exhibit include:

  • 1941 Commencement program
  • Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity pin
  • General Wilson’s garrison cap
  • Service decorations, 1942-1979
  • Home of the Commandants
  • The Medal of Honor
  • Third Marine Division shoulder patch and Captain’s bars
  • Foreign Decorations
  • Korean Order of National Security Merit,
  • GUK-SEON Medal, 2nd Class

In the video below, Col. William J. Bowers, commanding officer, 6th Marine Corps Recruiting District, speaks with students about the transformational Leadership of Gen. Louis Wilson, 26th commandant of the Marine Corps.

Watch Now

Exhibits in the Millsaps-Wilson Library

The King R. Johnson, Jr. History Collection

A gift from the family of the late King R. Johnson, Jr. of Madison, has greatly enhanced the history holdings of the Millsaps-Wilson Library. Comprised of nearly 4000 volumes, Johnson’s collection is focused on warfare from ancient to modern times. The works include scholarly and popular explorations of many aspects of warfare including not only strategy and logistics, but social, cultural, and political implications as well. In addition to the volumes of military history, the collection includes maps, works on general history and a number of books on the Titanic.

The Lehman Engel Collection

The Lehman Engel Collection is named for its donor, A. Lehman Engel (1910-1982) a Jackson-born musician, composer, conductor, author and teacher. The collection consists of his personal library which he transferred to Millsaps over a period of 20 years, the balance being willed to the library upon his death in 1982. Numbering approximately 3,000 volumes, the collection is strong in the arts, particularly music and literature, but it is quite eclectic with an interesting variety that reflects its collector. Engel, who was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by Millsaps in 1971, also donated his collection of LP recordings which is equally strong on the musical theatre. A classmate and friend of renowned author Eudora Welty, Engel graduated from Central High School in Jackson and is buried in Beth Israel cemetery near the Millsaps campus. The library owns copies of correspondence between Engel and Welty.

The Paul Ramsey Collection

The books in this collection were willed to the Millsaps library by Paul Ramsey, a Millsaps graduate and noted scholar and author, who died in 1988. Ramsey wrote and taught ethics, specifically, applied ethics and the approximately 2500 books in the collection feature medical and other issues with marked social impact. He was born in Mendenhall, Mississippi in 1913 and earned his B.A. from Millsaps in 1935. He served on the Millsaps faculty from 1937 to 1939, teaching history and social science. He earned his Ph.D. from Yale University Divinity School and he was on the faculty at Princeton University at the time of his death.

The Harmon L. Smith Collection

This collection, consisting of approximately 1,500 volumes pertaining to Christian ethics, was a gift of Dr. Harmon L. Smith, Emeritus Professor of Moral Theology of the Divinity School, Duke University. Dr. Smith, a 1952 graduate of Millsaps College, donated the collection in 1999 upon his retirement from Duke University. At the same time he established the Harmon L. Smith Lecture Series. The collection contains many books on medical as well as general ethics issues.

The Roland Freeman Portfolio

The Millsaps library owns a collection of 12 photographs by Roland Freeman, published by Diogenese, Inc. and The University of Mississippi Center for the Study of Southern Culture. Freeman held the Millsaps College Eudora Welty Visiting Scholar Chair in the spring of 1997, when a combined exhibit of his and Welty’s photographs was held on campus. These photos, which were a gift of the photographer, are displayed in the library’s information commons:

  1. Peter, East Baltimore, Maryland, June 1969
  2. Community of Elders, Mississippi, July 1975
  3. Cigar Box Fiddler Scott Dunbar, Mississippi, July 1975
  4. Gandy Dancers (railroad workers), Mississippi, August 1976
  5. Sunday Baseball Game, near Buffalo, Mississippi, September 1976
  6. Shopping on Gay Street, East Baltimore, Maryland, 1973
  7. In the Sand Hills, Near Bennettsville, South Carolina, 1979
  8. Hallway of Polk Home, Americus, Georgia, April 1971
  9. Getting Acquainted, Sunday Afternoon in Druid Hill Park, Baltimore,Maryland, August 1973
  10. Howard University Student, Washington, D.C., June 1979
  11. Before Sunday Evening Service, St. Helena Island, South Carolina, June,1980
  12. Mrs. Viola Allen, Africatown, Alabama, November 1985.

The Rare Book Collection

The Millsaps library maintains a small collection of books which are curious, special or rare. Numbering about 2,500, these books have normally been donations to the library or were discovered to be among older titles in the collection. Some interesting examples of titles in the collection are: A Christopher Barker edition of The Bible, published in 1583; Sir Walter Raleigh’s “The Historie of the World in Five Books,” published in 1666; and “A History of Negro Baptists in Mississippi,” by Patrick Thompson, published in 1895.

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