Mississippi State University online resource highlights state’s black authors
July 1, 2002
STARKVILLE, Miss. What do novelist Margaret Walker Alexander, civil rights leader Medgar Evers and actress Beah Richards have in common? For one, all three are included in a unique Internet-available collection of Mississippi authors maintained at Mississippi State University.
The university’s Mitchell Memorial Library is home to an evolving online file of African-American authors compiled to assist students and scholars in researching black writers with Mississippi ties, said Gail Peyton, interim reference services coordinator.
The file can be accessed by choosing the “Of Special Interest” option at nt.library.msstate.edu/.
Peyton said the list currently contains 91 novelists, playwrights, poets, and journalists who either had an influence on the state of Mississippi or who themselves were influenced by the Magnolia State. Each selection includes a biography and list of the author’s publications.
“It’s an exciting project,” she said. “The site is both a motivational tool for African-American students who want to know more about their history and themselves, and a valuable resource for all Mississippians.”
Peyton said she conceived the idea of gathering biographical and bibliographical information five years ago when several students came to the library in search of a comprehensive list during MSU’s Black History Month observance.
With the assistance of a $2,000 grant from the university’s Office of Research, the list was compiled by Peyton, her colleague and special collections reference librarian Lynn Mueller and student Brad McGee.
The resource remains “a work in progress,” Peyton said. At present, she has a list of about 30 authors — including journalist Ida B. Wells and television personality Oprah Winfrey — yet to be added to the collection.
“The Web is a fantastic resource,” she said, explaining that the names of emerging authors often can be found on Web sites or through electronic mail.
One source even arrived on her library doorstep by foot. Peyton said the student — who was, in fact, a published poet — sought her out and asked to be included.
For more information about “Mississippi’s African-American Authors,” contact Peyton at (662) 325-7671 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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