The Eudora Welty Collection is managed, housed, and made available for research by the Archives and Records Services Division within the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and is located at the William F. Winter Archives and History Building.
It is the most extensive collection of Eudora Welty materials in the world and one of the most varied literary collections in the United States. The Collection, with materials dating from 1882 to 2001, spans Welty's entire life and includes earlier photographs of her parents and grandparents. It includes manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, negatives, drawings, film and video footage, essays, reviews, ephemera, awards and honors.
Beginning in 1957, Welty donated materials to the Department, primarily literary manuscripts and photographs. The early donations of Welty materials, comprising approximately 48 cubic feet, reveal much about Welty's methods of composition and revision; they have attracted numerous scholars since being opened for research in the 1980s.
Between 1986 and Welty's death in 2001, Welty and others donated approximately 10 additional cubic feet of Welty-related materials to MDAH. Various correspondents returned materials to Welty, and new publishing projects recalled other, existing materials to Welty's attention, prompting her to donate them. Included were additional images from Photographs (1989), extensive correspondences with Diarmuid Russell and Mary Louise Aswell, and one letter from William Faulkner.
The final allotment of Welty materials, comprising approximately 62 cubic feet, was transferred to MDAH upon the settlement of Welty's estate in June 2005. Disposition of these materials was determined by Welty's Last Will and Testament and by her heirs' donation of some items that had been bequeathed to them. While similar in some ways to the previous donations, this final accretion brought an extraordinary cache of correspondence: more than 14,000 letters spanning 70 years, between Welty and childhood friends, friends from college, editors and journalists, and influential writers of the 20th century. Included are letters from Katherine Anne Porter, E. M. Forster, Elizabeth Bowen, William Maxwell, Bernard Berenson, John Updike, and Toni Morrison. Particularly extensive and interesting are more letters from Mary Louise Aswell, and her exchanges with Reynolds Price, Robert Penn Warren, and Ross Macdonald. In the three or so years after Welty's death and before their transfer to MDAH, Suzanne Marrs, with the permission of Welty's heirs and with the assistance of others, organized and indexed many of these materials in preparation for her book Eudora Welty: A Biography (Harcourt, August 2005).
Thus, the Eudora Welty Collection, acquired over 48 years, now measures more than 120 cubic feet. It is comprised of more than nine cubic feet of correspondence by Welty and 38 cubic feet of letters to her; thousands of manuscript pages of published and unpublished works including complete drafts of eight books of fiction, drafts of four unpublished novels and 10 unpublished stories, and drafts of non-fiction books, essays, reviews, speeches, and a theatrical revue; approximately 1,600 original photographs (negatives, as well as prints) produced by Welty and her family, including acclaimed images of Mississippi during the 1930s; and ephemera. MDAH also holds 11 sound recordings of interviews and public appearances from the 1970s and 1980s, and seven motion picture films edited for television from the 1970s in which Welty reads selections of her stories.