OXFORD, Miss. – There were no graduates when the University of Mississippi held its first Commencement in July 1849, less than one year after opening for its first classes.
The four-day event included “sumptuous banquets, a commencement ball…” and an address by Alexander M. Clayton, an original trustee of the university, said David Sansing, professor emeritus of history and noted Ole Miss historian.
A rare copy of Clayton’s 1849 address and the summer 1963 commencement program, which lists James Meredith among the graduates, are among several items on display on the third floor of the J.D. Williams Library, near the Department of Archives and Special Collections. The Commencement at the University of Mississippi exhibition will remain on display until May 13.
“As the spring 2013 commencement approaches, we thought it would great to offer a display relating to the history of commencement at Ole Miss,” said Jennifer Ford, head of archives and special collections. “We gathered rare pieces, including a copy of the 1866 address given by J.W. Clapp, which was the first commencement after the Civil War, an 1854 commencement party invitation and more.”
The noncirculating collection is free and available for viewing whenever the library is open. The library is open around the clock during exam week. For a complete list of library hours, visit http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/general_library/files/admin/hours.html.