Eudora Welty Digital Archives

The Eudora Welty Digital Archives features selections of correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, and other media related to Eudora Welty (1909-2001), master of the short story and acknowledged as one of America's greatest authors. Most are from the Eudora Welty Collection (1882-2001), the premier source for Welty materials in the world, totaling more than 230 cubic feet and encompassing her entire life.

Digitization was funded by an implementation grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities; with curatorial, administrative, and technical support from MDAH; and a matching contribution for conservation supplies and services from the Eudora Welty Foundation. The Eudora Welty Digital Archives represents only a sample of Welty-related material housed at MDAH. Non-digitized items may be accessed in the William F. Winter Archives and History Building. Additional information is located in the catalog record finding aids for the collections.

Collection Description General & Tech Data


Eudora Alice Welty was born on April 13, 1909, the daughter of Christian Webb Welty and his wife, Chestina Andrews Welty. Her family lived at 741 North Congress Street in Jackson, Mississippi, and then, in 1925, moved to 1119 Pinehurst Street, where Welty would reside until her death. Welty graduated from Jackson's Central High School in 1925, and then attended Mississippi State College for Women in Columbus, Mississippi, and the University of Wisconsin, where she received her bachelor's degree in 1929. She pursued graduate studies at the Columbia University School of Business in New York City and returned to Jackson in 1931 upon the death of her father. In 1936, two of her stories, "Magic" and "Death of a Traveling Salesman," were accepted by Manuscript magazine. Between 1936 and 1941, Welty wrote a variety of stories collected in her first book, A Curtain of Green. In 1941, her novella, The Robber Bridegroom, was published. Welty began work on a short story in 1943 that became the novel Delta Wedding, published in 1946. Welty spent several months in San Francisco, California, in 1946 and 1947; and in 1949, The Golden Apples was published. Following its publication, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship and spent a year in Europe. By 1955, she had published The Ponder Heart and The Bride of the Innisfallen and Other Stories.

From 1955 to 1970, Eudora Welty published two short stories dealing with the Civil Rights movement, "Where Is the Voice Coming From?" and "The Demonstrators," and worked on scenes for a novel while caring for her family. In 1959, her brother Walter died, and in 1966, her mother and her brother Edward died. The Optimist's Daughter was published as a piece in The New Yorker in 1969, and then as a book in 1972, winning the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. From 1970 to 1972, Welty converted scenes she had written into Losing Battles, her last work of fiction. In 1983, Welty delivered a series of lectures at Harvard University that were published in 1984 as One Writer's Beginnings.

Welty was an accomplished photographer as well as writer. Her photographs of Mississippi were first exhibited in New York City's Lugene gallery in 1936. The first book of her photographs, One Time, One Place, was published in 1971, followed by others including Photographs (1989) and Country Churchyards (2000).

Welty received virtually every honor possible in the American literary realm, including the Pulitzer Prize, the American Book Award for Literature, the Edward McDowell Medal, the Gold Medal for the Novel from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, the Bobst Award in Arts and Letters, the Lillian Smith Award, the Commonwealth Award from the Modern Language Association, the Phi Beta Kappa Association Award, the PEN/Malamud Award, and the Charles Frankel Prize from the National Endowment for the Humanities, among others. She received two Presidential Medals and was appointed to the National Council on the Arts. Additionally, she was the recipient of the French Legion of Honor. In 1998 Welty became the only living author published by the Library of America, a nonprofit publisher "dedicated to preserving America's best and most significant writing." Eudora Welty died in Jackson on July 23, 2001.

Collection Description

The primary source for the Eudora Welty Digital Archives is the Eudora Welty Collection (Z/0301.000/S), which consists principally of drafts, revised copies, and printer's versions of Welty's works, including stories, books, essays, reviews, lectures, speeches, and drama. The collection also contains incoming and outgoing correspondence of Welty; negatives and photographs taken by Welty and her family and friends; and memorabilia. Letters written by Welty and audio and video recordings of Welty from other collections are also accessible in the Eudora Welty Digital Archives.

Eudora Welty Collection History and Provenance

The Eudora Welty Collection, acquired over multiple years, measures over 230 c.f. and is organized into series. It is comprised of correspondence between Welty and others; thousands of manuscript pages of published and unpublished works including drafts of eight books of fiction, four unpublished novels and ten unpublished stories, and non-fiction books, essays, reviews, speeches, and a theatrical revue; hundreds of original photographs and negatives produced by Welty and her family and friends, including acclaimed images of Mississippi during the 1930s, ephemera, and financial records.

MDAH has been Welty's repository of choice since 1957, when she began making donations. By 1985, Welty had donated approximately forty-eight c.f. of significant material, which warranted extensive processing and preservation. From 1971, the Welty Collection materials have been available for research at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in Jackson, Mississippi.

Between 1986 and Eudora Welty's death in 2001, Welty and others donated additional materials to MDAH. Over the years, various correspondents returned items to Welty, and new publishing projects recalled other, existing memorabilia to Welty's attention, prompting her to donate them. Included were photographs and correspondence with her literary agent Diarmuid Russell and Harper's Bazaar editor Mary Louise Aswell.

A significant allotment of Welty materials was transferred to MDAH in June 2005 upon the settlement of her estate. While similar in some ways to the previous donations, this accretion brought an extraordinary cache of correspondence: more than 14,000 letters spanning seventy years, between Welty and childhood and college friends, editors and journalists, and influential writers of the twentieth century. Welty's heirs have also continued to transfer items to MDAH.

Archivists performed an extensive conservation needs assessment of the material in the spring of 2006 and a condition survey of selected items in 2018. Staff have stabilized much of the collection, performing routine preservation work, and professional conservators have restored fragile items. Digitization of selected manuscripts, letters written by Welty, photographs, and material complementary to the Eudora Welty Collection was funded by a 2019 implementation grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, with curatorial, administrative, and technical support from MDAH, and a matching contribution for conservation supplies and services from the Eudora Welty Foundation.

Complementary Resources at MDAH

MDAH has many Welty-related resources beyond the Eudora Welty Collection. These are available in the William F. Winter Archives and History Building and include correspondence and manuscripts created by others, publications and sound recordings by or about Welty, video productions about Welty, Subject Files, and a variety of other collections. The following materials are also accessible in the Eudora Welty Digital Archives:


  • John Fraiser Robinson Papers (Z/2294.000/S) - correspondence from Eudora Welty to John Robinson.
  • Welty - Millar Letters (Z/2330.000/S) - correspondence from Eudora Welty to Ken Millar.
  • Eudora Welty Letter to Margaret Millar (Z/2345.000/S) - correspondence from Eudora Welty to Margaret Millar.

Audio-Visual Materials:

  • Sound recordings (11 tapes), including reel-to-reel and cassette audio tapes related to Eudora Welty (1971-1984).
  • The Writer in America (7 video recordings), digitized with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2006.

Apart from the archival collection, Welty donated her home, now a National Historic Landmark, and garden to MDAH; they are managed by the Museum Division. The Welty Garden opened to the public in April 2004, and the Eudora Welty House opened in April 2006.