Partnership to Screen Films on America’s Civil Rights Struggle

Initial film delayed by snow rescheduled for March 18, other events slated throughout year

OXFORD, Miss. – Several community and University of Mississippi entities are partnering to offer film screenings and discussions of four documentaries focusing on civil rights in America. Some of the events, which were postponed from February because of winter weather, are set for March 18.

The series of events is part of “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle,” an initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities that uses the power of documentary films to encourage community discussion of America’s civil rights history.

The University of Mississippi Libraries and Center for the Study of Southern Culture are partnering with the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation and the Oxford-Lafayette County Public Library to host the film screenings and discussions. NEH has partnered with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History to develop programmatic and support materials for the 473 sites across the nation selected to show the films.

The university was awarded a set of four films chronicling the history of the civil rights movement. The powerful documentaries, “The Abolitionists,” “Slavery by Another Name,” “Freedom Riders” and “The Loving Story,” include dramatic scenes of incidents in the 150-year effort to achieve equal rights for all. “Freedom Riders” received an Emmy in 2012, and “The Loving Story” and “The Abolitionists” were nominated for Emmys in 2013.

Each of the films was produced with NEH support, and each tells remarkable stories of individuals who challenged the social and legal status quo of deeply rooted institutions, from slavery to segregation. “Created Equal” programs bring communities together to revisit our shared history and help bridge deep racial and cultural divides in American civic life. Visit for more information.

“These films chronicle the long and sometimes violent effort to achieve the rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – for all Americans,” said Melissa Dennis, outreach librarian and grant recipient for the University Libraries.

Programming for the films is a collaborative effort between the University Libraries and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, which also received grant funding for the film series.

The “Created Equal” film set is made possible through a major grant from the NEH, as part of its Bridging Cultures initiative, in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. All events are free and open to the public.

“Because of the grant from NEH, we are able to promote these films and programs that allow our community to discuss important issues of race and history,” said Becca Walton, associate director of projects and grant recipient for Center for the Study of Southern Culture. “The four ‘Created Equal’ films provide a vehicle to connect the stories of the long civil rights movement and the changing meanings of freedom and equality in U.S., the South, Mississippi and Oxford.”

The schedule of events for “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle” over the next few months follows:

“Created Equal” film 1: “The Loving Story”

The moving account of Richard and Mildred Loving, arrested in 1958 for violating Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage.

March 18

Noon-1 p.m., panel discussion: “Race and Space, Responses to ‘The Loving Story,’” Faulkner Room, J.D. Williams Library.

Faculty and students will discuss the implications of race and the legal and cultural issues surrounding public and private environments. Light refreshments served. Panelists include Jennifer Stollman, instructor and academic director of racial reconciliation; Nathaniel Weathersby, journalism student and UM Pride Network president; and Michele Alexandre, associate professor of law. Moderated by Melody Frierson, youth project coordinator of the Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation.

7-8:30 p.m., film screening, J.D. Williams Library, Room 106D. Snacks provided.

“Created Equal” film two: “Freedom Riders”

The Freedom Ride of 1961 was a pivotal moment in the long civil rights struggle that redefined America.

April 7

6-8 p.m., film screening, Oxford-Lafayette County Public Library. Popcorn provided.

April 9

6-8 p.m. Join the discussion with a former Freedom Rider at Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics. Moderated by the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation.

More events and films will be scheduled for the fall semester, including programming around “The Abolitionists” and “Slavery by Another Name.” All events are free and open to the public. Community members, students, researchers and educators are all encouraged to attend. For assistance related to a disability contact Melissa Dennis at 662-915-5861 or

About the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

Founded in 1994, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is a nonprofit organization that promotes excellence in the teaching and learning of American history. Programs include publications, teacher seminars, a national Affiliate School Program, traveling exhibitions and online materials for teachers, students and the general public. For more information, go to

About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports learning in history, literature, philosophy and other areas of the humanities. NEH grants enrich classroom learning, create and preserve knowledge, and bring ideas to life through public television, radio, museum exhibitions and programs in libraries and other community places. For more information, go to

Message from the Dean

Dear Friends,

This issue of Keywords highlights some new ventures for the University Libraries, which were made possible by the generosity of library donors. The new Ainsworth Room, which is an extension of our existing Information Commons, offers more study spaces and technology in different configurations for our users. We are thrilled to have this beautiful new space, which honors Oscar Richard and Edith Wetzel Ainsworth, who left a generous estate gift for the libraries.

We are also thrilled with the Ole Miss yearbook digitization project, which was made possible by the Gerald Walton Endowment. Walton, provost emeritus, has been a longtime supporter of the libraries and served in leadership positions for the Friends of the Library for a number of years. Dr. Walton, who has written extensively about the university, saw the need and enormous potential for generations of Ole Miss Rebels to have online access to the yearbooks.

These two projects also benefited greatly from the library staff who worked hard to make these projects possible. We have terrific staff members in the library, and I am quite honored to serve as their dean.


Julia Rholes

Dean of University Libraries

Ainsworth Commons Provides Comfortable, New Study Spaces

Upgrade based on results of a spring 2013 library user survey

Patrons expressed a need, administrators listened, funds were provided and staff members pitched in to further enhance the J.D. Williams Library.

The result is an overhauled and enlarged study commons on the library’s first floor. The more user-friendly, updated facility includes six new group work spaces, 18 additional computer workstations and 30 new chairs, plus more electrical and cell phone charging outlets and a new printer.

The remodeled area has been named the Ainsworth Commons to honor donors Oscar Richard and Edith Wetzel Ainsworth. The couple’s estate provided close to $1 million for long-term library funding, with a small portion going toward the commons project and the remainder being placed in an endowment.

The expanded area opened this fall after the project began in spring 2012. The upgrade was based on a survey conducted among library patrons that generated more than 1,300 responses and served as a planning guide.

“We definitely listened to our undergraduate students, who made up 56 percent of the survey respondents,” said Julia Rholes, dean of university libraries. “It seems that, more than ever, our students – especially undergraduates – are being assigned projects where they work in groups, and we wanted to meet that need. They wanted more technology, more collaborative work spaces, group work arrangements and more comfortable seating.”

Read the story …

Decades of UM Yearbooks Digitized, Available Online

Project preserves 116 years worth of publications for archives, research

Volumes of University of Mississippi yearbooks printed between 1897 and 2013 can be viewed online, thanks to a recent project that digitized the books for archival purposes.

The project originated with Kathryn Michaelis, former UM special collections digital initiatives librarian. She worked directly with the Lyrasis Digitization Collaborative, a Sloan Foundation grant-subsidized program that has made the process easy and affordable for libraries and cultural institutions across the country. Funding was also made possible by the Gerald Walton Endowment.

“We saw so many people coming through to look at the physical yearbooks, we thought this was a great idea,” said Jennifer Ford, head of archives and special collections and associate professor. “Through the collaborative partnership with the Internet Archive, all items were scanned from cover to cover and in full color.”

Read the story …

W. Ralph Eubanks donates his papers to UM library

Author, editor, publisher adds to resources available in Archives and Special Collections

W. Ralph Eubanks (BA 78), a publisher, editor and author, among other titles, recently donated his papers to the University of Mississippi’s Archives and Special Collections at the J.D. Williams Library.

The UM graduate has authored two books, Ever Is a Long Time: A Journey into Mississippi’s Dark Past, A Memoir and The House at the End of the Road: The Story of Three Generations of an Interracial Family in the American South. He gave the university copies of his proposals for the two books, manuscripts, correspondence with editors and other documents.

Eubanks, who lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, Colleen, and their three children, had used the archives while working on his books and said the collection was a great help.

“When the library approached me about giving them my papers, it was a very easy answer,” Eubanks said. “I just know how much care they put into featuring the special collections there. I’ve worked in the special collections as a patron and know how they serve the collection too.”

Read the story …

The New Face of Library Public Services

Jocelyn Tipton joins library in newly created position

New to the state and University of Mississippi, Jocelyn Tipton brings her 20 years of library experience to the position of assistant dean of public services in library administration.

The position was recently created to help coordinate the efforts of the public service departments within the library, which include Instruction and Outreach, Information Services, Access Services, Interlibrary Loan, Web Services and the Science Library.

Tipton, who began June 1, seeks to improve interaction with library patrons and make public services, or the “face” of the library, a priority.

One of her goals is to find innovative ways to integrate the library into courses and students’ lives.

Read the story …

Message from Angela Barlow

I would like to express gratitude for such a warm welcome to the University of Mississippi Libraries. When I began serving as development officer just five months ago, I had minimal knowledge of our libraries’ history. I have now had the opportunity to meet a number of individuals who shared stories about the library. I am eager to meet each of you in hopes that you, too, will share your love of and interest in our libraries.

As I have learned, our libraries have a vivid history. Now is our opportunity to assure an even brighter future for them. With the support of private funding and individual gifts, the University Libraries will continue to provide services at the highest levels for our students, researchers, faculty, staff and community. With your help, many more individuals will have stories to share about our libraries for years to come.

If you have any thoughts or questions about supporting the University Libraries, please feel free to contact me at 662-915-3181 or


Angela Barlow

Director of Development for Special Projects

Former Congressman’s Letters Provide Insight into 1800′s Mississippi

Thomas Spight's writings paint picture of Civil War and the murder of William Faulkner's grandfather

More than 800 letters donated to the University of Mississippi’s Archives and Special Collections shed light on the state’s history from 1858 to 1901, covering everything from the Civil War to the trial of a man charged with the murder of William Faulkner’s grandfather.

The letters belonged to Thomas Spight, who was a UM law student, Confederate soldier, Mississippi legislator during Reconstruction, a district attorney and U.S. representative. Recently, they were donated by his great-grandchildren, Thomas Spight Hines, of Los Angeles, Calif., and Mattie Spight McDowell, of Sumrall, Miss.

Hines, who is from Oxford, graduated from UM and is now a professor of history, architecture and urban design at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the writings are mostly correspondence between Spight and his wife, Mary Virginia.

“They are love letters in the beginning,” Hines said. “They are very romantic, and there’s a lot of family minutiae, but they frequently discuss interesting issues.”

Read the story …

Musical Performance Honors Poet Laureate

Artist and ensemble performed original music, film score

Acclaimed classical composer, violinist and violist Maria Newman performed a free concert in the J.D. Williams Library on Sept. 20 at the University of Mississippi.

Sponsored by the university’s Department of Archives and Special Collections, the event drew a crowd of about 60 to hear the performance, which took place in the Faulkner Room.

“Having Maria Newman include the University of Mississippi in her concert tour across Southern states was truly an honor,” said Jennifer Ford, associate professor and head of special collections. “Her family ties to the state of Mississippi deeply influenced her music and resonated with the local audience.”

Newman’s performance was themed “Unlocking the Secrets of Louise Moss Montgomery,” a musical tribute to her maternal grandmother who was the poet laureate of Mississippi from 1973 to 1978. UM Archives and Special Collections houses Montgomery’s papers. For the performance, library specialist Lauren Rogers put together a display case of the materials.

“It felt appropriate that the performance should be here, where her grandmother’s collection is housed,” said Greg Johnson, blues curator and associate professor. “The concert was outstanding. The musicians brought Louise Moss Montgomery’s poems to life.”

Read the story …

Workshop Shows Teachers How to Use the Blues in the Classroom

Curriculum brings blues tradition into fourth-grade history classrooms

Mississippi teachers and educators took a multifaceted look at the new Mississippi Blues Trail Curriculum in a workshop hosted by the J.D. Williams Library Blues Archive Sept. 21.

According to the Mississippi Blues Trail website, the curriculum was created to bring the blues tradition into fourth-grade history classrooms and acquaint students with the experiences of the men and women behind the music.

Greg Johnson, blues curator and associate professor at Ole Miss, helped set up the event in coordination with the Mississippi Arts Commission.

“The workshop showed teachers how to incorporate the blues curriculum into the classroom through an arts-integrated approach,” said Johnson.

Read the story …