Jesse L. White honors parents with library endowment

00007When Jesse L. White Jr. began thinking about establishing a memorial for his parents at the University of Mississippi, he quickly settled on the J.D. Williams Library as the natural choice.

“I’ve always considered the library to be the heart of a university,” said White, who earned a bachelor’s degree in history and political science in 1966. “That was certainly the case when I was at Ole Miss. I spent countless hours up in the stacks doing research or studying for exams, and it was such an important part of my time there.”

Also, White’s parents were big supporters of the university’s library, so it seemed an appropriate place to honor them, he said. The Jackson native and adjunct professor in the University of North Carolina’s School of Government has pledged $25,000 to create the Jesse Lamar and Marguerite East White Memorial Endowment.

Proceeds from the endowment can be used at the discretion of the dean of libraries, with preference given to acquiring books and digital resources in the social sciences.

“We are grateful to Jesse White for this generous gift that will help provide the materials we need to continue to recruit talented faculty members and aid research in the social sciences,” said Julia Rholes, UM library dean. “This endowment will help strengthen our programs for generations to come.”

White, who last year agreed to fund an endowment for the university’s William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, visited campus this spring and met with Rholes to discuss the library’s needs.

“I love her orientation toward the engagement of communities through libraries,” he said. “She came from that tradition, and she has continued on that path with the Ole Miss library.”

White’s parents were extraordinary people, he said.

“My father was born, believe it or not, in 1886, so he saw the introduction of the automobile and watched men walk on the moon. From modest circumstances, he became one of the most educated and well-read men I have ever known, even though he was not a college graduate. He was a huge influence on my intellectual development.”

White Sr. enjoyed a successful career in insurance and served almost eight years as state insurance commissioner. His wife was equally successful.

“She was born at the dawn of the 20th century and was a graduate of Hinds Community College,” White said. “She was a pioneer as a female business person and was a leader in organizations like the YWCA and the Mississippi Officials Women’s Club.

“They both loved and trusted Ole Miss. They supported my staying on campus after the Meredith integration crisis, which was my freshman year, while a lot of parents pulled their children out. It changed my life.”

While a student at UM, White earned two Taylor medals and a Marshall Scholarship, which sent him to England for two years of study at the University of Sussex. After completing a master’s degree in international relations there, he returned to UM as an instructor in political science from 1968 to 1970.

He then went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to earn his doctorate. During that time, he served as secretary of the Mississippi Senate, and later as a policy planner in the newly created U.S. Department of Education.

From 1982 to 1990, White was executive director of the Southern Growth Policies Board, an economic “think tank,” and from 1993 to 2002, he served as federal co-chairman of the Appalachian Regional Commission. He joined UNC as an adjunct professor in 2003 and created the university’s Office of Economic and Business Development in 2004. He is recognized as an expert on Southern politics and the region’s economic development.

“I really think both my parents would be delighted that their names will be linked to the Ole Miss library through the endowment,” White said.

To support the library, contact Angela Barlow Brown, development officer, at or 662-915-3181.


Ambassadors promote library with events, projects

Students take a break from studying for finals at the UM Library to pet puppies and dogs brought to visit.  Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

Students take a break from studying for finals at the UM Library to pet puppies and dogs brought to visit. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

A small group of UM students has organized Library Ambassadors, a voluntary program that is raising awareness of the University Libraries’ resources.

“The goals of the Library Ambassadors are to facilitate communication between University Libraries’ administration and student body, to represent and promote the library at campus events, and to advocate for and raise awareness of library programs and services among the student body,” said Melissa Dennis, assistant professor, outreach and instruction librarian, and co-faculty adviser of the organization. “The ambassadors also help create innovative and effective promotional materials for the libraries and their services.”

Library Ambassadors’ activities and events, which take place at the J.D. Williams Library, include poetry slams, Pet-a-Pup, art night and feedback night.

“It’s a student-driven organization,” said Amy E. Gibson, professor, head of instruction, information literacy librarian and the other faculty co-adviser. “Pet-A-Pup is where we work with the Cedar Wind local dog club to bring in dogs and their owners, training for volunteer credit. These are service dogs, and the students love to come and pet them during finals week. It’s a successful two-day event drawing in hundreds of students the weekend kicking off finals week each fall and spring semester.”

Currently, five students are members of the organization, but any student can join at no cost.

“Simply join in OrgSync, and we will send you event information,” Dennis said. “Members are expected to participate in events. We also have sign-up tables at orientations.”

Officers of Library Ambassadors said they are glad they chose to participate.

“In high school, I helped out in my school’s library even though I was not a student library worker,” said Jessica Marshall of Madison, president of Library Ambassadors and a senior biology major. “When I came to Ole Miss, I wanted to find some way to become a part of the library here, and becoming a Library Ambassador was a great way to do that.”

Marshall’s duties consist of planning and leading meetings, staying in contact with library administrative advisers, being a liaison between other organizations and community groups, and setting up and creating the organization’s events.

“The greatest accomplishment of our organization, I believe, is our success in our events,” she said. “We have come up with events that are fun, entertaining and memorable. It’s amazing to hear that students and Oxford community members alike enjoy and appreciate what we do,” she said.

Aisha Knight, Library Ambassadors secretary and a junior biology major from Corinth, agreed with Marshall.

“I chose to become an ambassador because Library Ambassadors was passionate about (the same) matters I was,” Knight said. “When we see a major turnout for Pet-a-Pup, the poetry slam and other events each year, we prove success isn’t always measured in the number of members you have.”

To learn more about UM Library Ambassadors, visit its Facebook page at


UM Archives celebrates arts and entertainment

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

The University of Mississippi’s Archives and Special Collections is presenting a major exhibition of entertainment memorabilia spanning several decades and featuring items from three Mississippians who achieved fame as entertainment writers and critics.

Titled “Entertainment Collectors, Authors and Critics: Selections from the Mamie and Ellis Nassour Arts & Entertainment, Stark Young and Herschel Brickell Collections,” the exhibition celebrates a major gift by journalist and author Ellis Nassour. The exhibit was unveiled Jan. 22 in the William Faulkner Room on the third floor of J.D. Williams Library and will run through December.

“To be recognized in this exhibit with these men, both extraordinary Mississippians, is a great honor,” said Nassour, a Vicksburg native and 1964 UM graduate who resides in New York City.

Nassour began his generous donation of art and entertainment memorabilia to the university in 2000. In 2004, an official dedication took place, with the donation named the Mamie and Ellis Nassour Arts & Entertainment Collection, in memory of his parents.

“The Nassour Collection gives the university a new breadth of research material, stretching from Hollywood to the New York stage and back to the South,” said Charles Reagan Wilson, former director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture. “The primary sources on Patsy Cline from Ellis’ two biographies, in particular, help support the center’s new emphasis on the study of Southern music.”

As a journalism student, Nassour was a contributor to The Daily Mississippian and chaired the Associated Student Body social affairs committee for two years. Working hand in hand with Dean of Students Tom Hines, he changed the caliber of on-campus entertainment with concerts by Peter, Paul and Mary; Johnny Cash and June Carter; Julie London and Bobby Troup; Peter Nero; and Al Hirt.

Nassour worked as a “campus runner” for a New York Times reporter during the UM integration crisis, which ultimately landed him a job at the newspaper, fulfilling a longtime ambition. He later became the director of artist relations for MCA Music/Universal Pictures, where he worked with Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice, Elton John, Neil Diamond, Brenda Lee and The Who.

“The relationships I developed led to some incredible experiences,” Nassour said. “Part of my re-education at the Times was working with reporters who covered World War II and the Korean War. Working with Loretta Lynn at MCA led to hilarious and poignant tales of her friendship with Patsy and, eventually, to my two biographies.”

The books are “Patsy Cline, An Intimate Portrait,” published in 1981, and the 1993 hardcover “Honky Tonk Angel: The Intimate Story of Patsy Cline” (MacMillan), still in print in a 2008 updated edition. Nassour has adapted the latter into a forthcoming stage musical. The entire spoken part of the hit revue “Always, Patsy Cline” is taken from four pages of Nassour’s biography.

From an early age, Nassour was interested in the performing arts and collecting materials related to the entertainment industry. His career gave him firsthand access to many of the collection’s valuable pieces, which include hundreds of visual and audio materials, vintage and contemporary film and theater posters, and signed Playbills, bound plays, biographies and autobiographies.

“One of the most important elements of the collection is that a huge portion of it is in use by faculty and students,” Nassour said.

“The libraries are thrilled to be able to offer a major exhibition highlighting the works and collections of three outstanding Mississippi entertainment writers and critics, the late Stark Young and Herschel Brickell and Ellis Nassour,” said Julia Rholes, dean of University Libraries. “We want to invite the public to join us for this extraordinary exhibit.”

Library campaign surpasses goal

Penn State students Lauren Ingram and Katie Jacobs demonstrate the capabilities of the One Button system in the University Libraries Media Commons at University Park. Photo courtesy Tom Klimek.The J.D. Williams Library’s crowdfunding campaign has surpassed its $20,000 goal to create a video-production suite dubbed Studio One.

The campaign launched in March on the IGNITE Ole Miss website, a crowdfunding source that allowed anyone to donate. Ole Miss Athletics matched each individual donation, doubling each contribution.

Studio One will make it possible for students and others to easily create and edit videos. The creative suite will include a one-button video production studio with lights, camera and microphone. The suite will also offer an editing room with both Mac and PC editing software. Studio One will be located on the main floor of the J.D. Williams Library and will be a free service. It will be available fall 2015.

Faculty and community users will have access to the studio as well, and can use it to create online course video content and record lectures and webinar content.

“Our students and others are in much need of this technology and service,” said Angela Barlow Brown, director of development for special projects. “The library is dedicated to serving all students of our university while providing the best environment for study, research and education. With the help of students, parents, alumni, faculty, staff and many gracious others, we were able to reach our goal to make this resource a reality in the J.D. Williams Library.”



Library Launches Ignite Campaign for Studio One Project

Penn State students Lauren Ingram and Katie Jacobs demonstrate the capabilities of the One Button system in the University Libraries Media Commons at University Park. Photo courtesy Tom Klimek.

Penn State students Lauren Ingram and Katie Jacobs demonstrate the capabilities of the One Button system in the University Libraries Media Commons at University Park. Photo courtesy Tom Klimek.

With your help, Ole Miss students could soon have access to a brand new video and recording studio.

Students have expressed the need for more technology in the University of Mississippi’s J.D. Williams Library; specifically, a place to create and edit video, as multimedia has become a constant in coursework.

The library will launch a crowdfunding campaign Tuesday (March 17) on the Ignite Ole Miss website to fund Studio One. This addition would include a digital video recording studio with lights and cameras and an editing suite equipped with both Mac and PC editing software at basic and advanced levels. A tutorial also will be available for those new to the editing process.

The estimated cost of the facilities is $20,000, which the library is hoping to raise over the course of the 30-day online campaign.

The model will be similar to Penn State’s One Button Studio, which requires students to plug in a flash drive and push a single button to access the lights and camera and begin recording.

Anyone can donate any amount to the campaign by clicking the link to the Ignite Ole Miss website. Just select the University of Mississippi Libraries Studio One Project and make your donation.

And spread the word to help our students make the most of their education!

Oxford Conference for the Book Highlights Margaret Walker

Sessions are free, open to the public

Oxford Conference for the Book scheduled for March 25-27, 2015.

Oxford Conference for the Book scheduled for March 25-27, 2015.

OXFORD, Miss. – A National Book Award winner, popular television show writers and a centennial birthday commemoration are all planned for the 2015 Oxford Conference for the Book, set for March 25-27.

Presented by the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Square Books, the 22nd annual conference is dedicated to Mississippi writer Margaret Walker, who penned the critically acclaimed novel “Jubilee” and the award-winning poetry collection “For My People.” Walker would have celebrated her 100th birthday this year.

The program is free and open to the public. It includes readings, panel discussions and talks by more than 40 talented writers from across the nation, bringing together fiction and nonfiction writers, journalists, poets, publishers, teachers and students. Panels explore a range of topics, including sports and race, writing with pictures, writing for television, heritage foods and foodways of the South, 21st century American wars, and the life of Elvis Presley.

“The Oxford Conference for the Book has always done a great job of serving both the academy and the community,” said Jimmy Thomas, conference director and associate director for publications at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture. “This is a great opportunity for Oxford residents and those who travel to Oxford and the UM campus to attend smart, engaging sessions and to visit a number of places not usually explored by visitors or members of the community.”

The March 25 welcome lunch, hosted by the University of Mississippi Library Archives and Special Collections, is set for noon on the third floor of the J.D. Williams Library. Distinguished professor and author of “Fields Watered with Blood: Critical Essays on Margaret Walker,” Maryemma Graham will give the keynote address at 1:30 p.m. at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics. Graham and a panel of Walker scholars, including Robert Luckett, Carolyn J. Brown and Jerry W. Ward, will follow.

“I was ecstatic that the Oxford Conference for the Book chose to honor our founder this year,” said Luckett, director of the Margaret Walker Center at Jackson State University. “Walker founded the Institute for the Study of the History, Life and Culture of Black People when she was a faculty member at what was then Jackson State College in 1968. Today, named in her honor, the Margaret Walker Center tries to lift up her artistic and academic legacy on a daily basis, and the Oxford Conference for the Book is a perfect and prestigious forum to do so.”

David Simon, creator of HBO’s “The Wire” and “Treme,” returns to Oxford, presented in partnership with the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies, as part of the 15th Annual Isom Student Gender Conference. His talk is set for 1:15 p.m. March 27 in the Lafayette County Courthouse.

“Simon’s diverse body of work connects so well to our conference’s theme ‘Space & Place,'” said Theresa Starkey, assistant director and instructor of gender studies. “We are proud to partner once again with the Conference for the Book for this important event.”

The Children’s Book Festival will be held at the Ford Center for Performing Arts, with more than 1,200 first-graders and fifth-graders from the Lafayette County and Oxford public schools in attendance. Sheila Turnage, author of “Three Times Lucky,” will present at 9 a.m. Monday (March 23), and Adam Rubin, author of “Those Darn Squirrels” will present at 9 a.m. March 25.

Beth Ann Fennelly, UM associate professor of English and director of the MFA program, will moderate a poetry panel, and author Jack Pendarvis will moderate a panel with fellow “Adventure Time” writers Kent Osborne, Seo Kim and Natasha Allegri.

“Thacker Mountain Radio” hosts a special Oxford Conference for the Book show at 6 p.m. March 26 at the Lyric Theatre, 106 Van Buren Ave. on the Oxford Square. Guests on the show will include authors Kent Russell, David Vann and Preston Lauterbach and self-taught artist-musician Lonnie Holley.

This year’s schedule of readings, organized with the leadership of Square Books, includes established and up-and-coming writers on book tour, such as National Book Award-winner Phil Klay, Kent Russell and John Renehan.

For a full schedule, visit the conference website at

Artstor Now Available

Worldwide digital database made possible through various donations

The Artstor Digital Library is now available through the J.D. Williams Library at the University of Mississippi.

The resource was made possible through different funding sources, including the University Museum, Department of Classics, Department of Art, Department of Philosophy, Office of the Provost, College of Liberal Arts and the Library and a private donor. It also was made possible through a mixture of various library subject funds and additional funding from the Office of the Provost and the College of Liberal Arts.

“My contribution was in memory of my friend Robert P. Tettleton, who was chair of the art department from 1965 to 1977,” said Laura Harper, UM head of government information services and associate professor. “He retired in 1995, but continued teaching until 2000. A longtime member of Friends of the Library, he died Dec. 29, 2013.”

As a member of the library staff, Harper was aware of the efforts to put together the funding to acquire Artstor and thought a contribution in memory of Tettleton would be appropriate.

The Artstor Digital Library provides more than 1.6 million digital images in the arts, architecture, humanities and sciences with an accessible suite of software tools for teaching and research. The digital library serves educators, scholars, curators, librarians and students at more than 1,500 universities, community colleges, museums, libraries and K-12 schools in 48 countries worldwide.”

Collections are used for teaching and study in a wide range of subject areas, including art, architecture, music, religion, anthropology, literature, world history, American studies, Asian studies, classical studies, medieval studies and Renaissance studies.

“Through the cooperation of various campus units and donations, this superb resource is now available to UM faculty, staff, and students,” said Jessica Leming, UM visual collections librarian and assistant professor.”

For direct access to Artstor, visit





New Civil War and Slavery Database ‘A Treasure Trove’

The John D. Williams Library has access to two new databases on the history of slavery and the Civil War, collections described as a “treasure trove of rare, unique historical materials.”

The new databases are part of the American Antiquarian Society’s collection and are accessible to all UM students, faculty and staff through the library’s web site. Readex Research created the databases, which became available for purchase in March. With help from the Department of History, College of Liberal Arts, The UM Center for Civil War Research, UM’s African-American Studies Program, the Provost Office and the library, commitments for most of the funding were in place by July. The library was able to purchase access in August.

John Neff, UM associate professor of history and director of the UM Center for Civil War Research, said the database is part of one the country’s most respected archives.

“The AAS is one of the most respected archives in the country, and to be able to do research in their collections is an exceptional opportunity,” Neff said. “With the creation of these two databases, now our undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty, will have the chance to explore the American Antiquarian Society’s collections without traveling to Massachusetts.”

The two databases are still developing, which means they’ll only add more resources over the next two years, Neff said.

“In acquiring access to these databases, the University has demonstrated its commitment to academic excellence generally, as well as underscored the importance of both slavery and the Civil War to understanding our national history,” Neff said.

UM Dean of Libraries Julia Rholes said, “these two Readex collections provide a true treasure trove of rare, unique historic materials from this critical period in our history; we are thrilled to provide access to these resources.”

Access can be gained by going to the J.D. William’s Library’s website, and searching for “Readex: The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922,” or “Readex: The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922″ in the database search bar.

For more information on the database, contact Neff at

Ross’ Gifts Enrich Special Collections

Late researcher posthumously donates valuable documents to University Libraries

thompson_004Carolyn Jones Ross’s devotion to research was matched perfectly to her commitment to the University of Mississippi Libraries. Her combined loves yielded two gifts to UM’s Archives and Special Collections this year.

The Carolyn Jones Ross Memorial Collection began last March with an initial gift of primary documents from Jacob Thompson and his family. Included are nine letters signed by Thompson, 17 letters from his wife, Catherine, ledgers containing information on slaves and financial papers written between 1842-1885.

A second gift in September, the Carolyn Jones Ross Research Files, is a collection of the research files of Ross pertaining primarily to her own work on Thompson. Ross, who died last March, served three years on the Oxford-Lafayette Heritage Foundation board, during which her ongoing research into Thompson’s life was used to develop the marker at the Thompson Home Place site and the interpretive materials at the L.O.C. Lamar House.

Born in 1810 in North Carolina, Thompson moved to Mississippi in the 1830s. He got involved in politics early, serving in Congress from 1839-1851.

“During President Buchanan’s administration, Thompson was Secretary of the Interior until 1861 when the Civil War erupted,” said Julia Rholes, UM dean of libraries. “During the war he served in both military and legislative capacities for the Confederacy.”

Joyce Sidorfsky of Oxford was a longtime family friend of Ross. The two met as band students at Louisiana State University years ago and became inseparable.

“She was in the band because her father was the director,” Sidorfsky said. “I was the band librarian. That’s how we got to know each other on a daily basis.”

Ross and Sidorfsky traveled the United States and Europe together. She remembers her late friend as both a serious collector and a kind, benevolent human being who loved the performing arts.

“She collected everything,” Sidorfsky said. “She was particularly fond of giraffes. She has well over 300 of them in her house.”

“At the same time, Carolyn was always sticking her neck out for others. She was pleasant to be around and a great traveling companion.”

Ross was a retired speech-language pathologist whose career included stints in Iberville Parish, Louisiana public schools and LSU Medical School prior to nearly a quarter century in private practice in New Orleans. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from LSU-Baton Rouge and a Ph.D. from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. She was an early pioneer in the use of Cued Speech, a phoneme-based system of hand shapes and positions that clarifies ongoing speech.

Ross served three years on the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council board.

By Edwin Smith


Shoemaker Papers Donated to Special Collections

shoemaker_001William Millard Shoemaker left a legacy of personal achievements and contributions to higher education in the state of Mississippi. Fittingly, relatives of the late University of Mississippi alumnus have donated mementos of his storied life to the J.D. Williams Library at his alma mater.

William M. Shoemaker Jr., the deceased’s only surviving child, and Robert “Bob” Hume, Shoemaker’s son-in-law, made the donation possible. Several scrapbooks, including one highlighting his tenure on the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning board, are among the items in the collection. Hume plans to fund the installment of the documents into the archives.

“There are letters from notable Mississippians in education and politics, including former president of [University of Southern Mississippi] Aubrey Lucas, former Delta State president Kent Wyatt, former UM Chancellor Porter Fortune, Congressman Sonny Montgomery and several others,” said Jennifer Ford, head of archives and special collections and assistant professor at UM. “A manuscript written by his daughter entitled, ‘William Millard Shoemaker, As I Remember Him,’ is also a highlight of the collection.”

Hume married Shoemaker’s daughter, Susan, in 1981. It was his late wife’s wish for the tribute to her father to find a permanent home at the family’s beloved alma mater, he said.

“Considering the amount of work my wife and mother-in-law put into the creation of the manuscript, this was the most appropriate and logical thing to do,” Hume said. “She would have wanted it this way.”

Shoemaker’s son recalled fond memories of his father’s service on the IHL board.

“My father’s time on the board was a time of student unrest,” Shoemaker Jr. said. “To students, the board was an unknown entity and viewed with suspicion. He proposed and put through a proposal allowing student observers to sit in certain board sessions. This was a creative approach to a problem, and I don’t think the board would have done this without his leadership.”

Though Hume only knew his father-in-law three years before his death in 1984, he described Shoemaker as a remarkable human being.

“He was just an instantly likable person who was brilliant at making people feel comfortable around him,” Hume said. “Perhaps because he began his career as a salesman, my father-in-law had the ability to remember people’s names long after he had met them.”

Despite Shoemaker’s easygoing manner, Hume said he was nobody’s pushover.

“As an IHL board member, he worked tirelessly and could be very convincing when he wanted to persuade people to follow what he felt was the best course of action,” he added.

Shoemaker Jr. agreed with his brother-in-law’s observation.

“I think it was Daddy’s fairness and integrity that made all the heads of the various colleges, universities and other board members respect him so much,” he said. “His business background coupled with [his] very clear admiration for learning made him one of the better leaders the board had experienced.”

Born in Lake Cormorant, the late educator and administrator enrolled at UM in 1931 as a Felix LaBauve scholar from Nesbit. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in commerce in 1935.

“As a student, Mr. Shoemaker served on the YMCA cabinet, was a member of the Cardinal Club, pledged Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity and was a recognized campus leader,” Ford said. “He and his wife, the late Alice Vivian Denman, had three children: William Jr., the late Susan S. Hume and the late Richard D. Shoemaker. All attended the university.”

Shoemaker served as executive vice president and general manager of the Meridian & Bigbee Railroad. He was later appointed to the board of trustees of Mississippi’s Institutions of Higher Learning by Gov. John Bell Williams and served until 1980.

Shoemaker Hall, which houses the UM Department of Biology, was named in his honor in 1984. The entire Shoemaker family was surprised and honored by the gesture.

“I gave his acceptance speech because multiple small strokes had slowed his speech too much for him to speak in public,” Shoemaker Jr. said. “The University of Southern Mississippi named a teaching auditorium for him, and the Gulf Coast Research Center named a research laboratory for him. My wife, Sally, and I flew from California for each of these events, and I can’t think of attending any other events that showed so much respect and love.”

After Shoemaker’s death, his widow established a scholarship for biology students in his memory. Their children later contributed to the fund, which provided funding for five students last year.

“The collection certainly provides detailed insight into his life, personality and work ethic,” Ford said. “Special Collections is greatly indebted to the Shoemaker family for the generous gift of the archive of this significant Mississippian.”