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The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded a $217,982 implementation grant to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to support the preservation, digitization, and enhancement of access to the papers of Eudora Welty.

The two-year project aims to professionally conserve sixty items and compile metadata for more than 19,800 scans of items in the Eudora Welty Collection. Selected manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, and sound recordings in the collection will be digitized, and an online catalog will be created to facilitate discovery of the materials.

The Eudora Welty Foundation is matching MDAH’s contribution to the grant. “The generosity of NEH and the Welty Foundation will make it possible for people from around the globe to access Welty’s literary work and her photographs,” said David Pilcher, director of the MDAH Archives and Record Services Division. “We are also grateful to the Mississippi Humanities Council for their support on this project and so many others.”

“These new NEH-supported projects will help shore up the nation’s most valuable assets: its history, literature, historic sites, regional traditions, and cultural institutions,” said NEH chairman Jon Parrish Peede. “NEH is proud to support the advancement of learning and sharing of knowledge nationwide.”

NEH is an independent federal agency that is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States. The Humanities Collections and Reference Resources grant program supports projects that are essential for scholarship, education and public programming. About 200 applications are submitted for this NEH grant each year, and only forty awards are made.

The Eudora Welty Collection at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History is the premier collection of Eudora Welty materials in the world and one of the most varied literary collections in the United States. The collection includes manuscripts, letters, photographs, drawings, essays, and film and video footage that spans Welty’s entire life. Beginning in 1957, and over the course of more than forty years, Welty donated materials to the department, primarily literary manuscripts and photographs. At her death the remainder of her papers were bequeathed to MDAH and included unpublished manuscripts and 14,000 items of correspondence with family, friends, scholars, young writers, and noted writers.

The collection may be accessed at the William F. Winter Archives and History Building, 200 North Street, Jackson. The preparation and digitization of material in the Eudora Welty Collection will necessitate the closure of selected series over the two-year span of the grant; please confirm availability in advance. For more information contact Forrest Galey by email at fgaley@mdah.ms.gov or by phone at 601-576-6850.

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