July 26, 2017  

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University Libraries’ Special Collections Completes Evelyn Gandy Archive

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Evelyn Gandy

The extensive and important Evelyn Gandy Collection is now fully processed and available for research in University Libraries’ Special Collections at The University of Southern Mississippi. This collection, spanning more than 100 years, contains valuable resources that cover a wide range of topics regarding the life of Edythe Evelyn Gandy and Martha Frances Gandy.

The entire collection includes 127 various-size archival boxes of material comprised of manuscripts, scrapbooks, nearly 2,000 photographs, printed items, films, small artifacts and other memorabilia.

In 2014, Brandon Ball, a processing assistant in Historical Manuscripts and Archives, began working with this large and complex collection. Additional archives, primarily photos, were added in 2015 and greatly enhanced the existing collection. For almost two years, Ball’s extensive work allowed him to become very familiar with the contents of this collection and Evelyn Gandy herself.

“Growing up, she was told she could not become a lawyer because it was a man’s job. I believe the most interesting pieces in this collection are her personal memorabilia, her scrapbooks ranging from 1937 to 2003, her campaign materials, the over 1,000 photographs spanning her personal and political life, as well as speeches, reports and articles from her political life,” said Ball. 

A native Mississippian, Evelyn Gandy earned the admiration and respect of many throughout her career, and is credited with breaking the gender barrier in Mississippi statewide politics. In 1948, she was elected to serve as representative in the Mississippi State Legislature for Forrest County, and later she served in the statewide elective positions of State Treasurer, Commissioner of Insurance and Lieutenant Governor from 1976-1980. She was the first woman to hold each of these offices and was also the first woman to serve in the appointive positions of Assistant Attorney General and Commissioner of Public Welfare. She served on an impressive number of boards and commissions, as well with civic organizations.

A collection of this kind provides a wealth of information about Evelyn Gandy, an influential leader in the state of Mississippi. Dr. Casey Maugh Funderburk, associate provost of the Gulf Coast Campus, is a scholar of political communication and is particularly interested in Gandy’s public speeches and the vast collection of photographs included in this archive.

“Gandy is an under-studied public figure, so an archive of this kind will provide researchers valuable speeches, photographs and correspondence,” Dr. Maugh Funderburk said. “There is no doubt that the Gandy collection will attract researchers to the University to study her archive. The state of Mississippi will benefit as work is published from the findings within the archive, bringing attention and notoriety to Evelyn Gandy as a skilled politician and beloved figure within Mississippi.”

Dr. Maugh Funderburk says that students at Southern Miss will also benefit from such an extensive archive for their own class projects and research pursuits while studying at Southern Miss.
 
Carroll and Annelle Ingram of Hattiesburg are long-time friends of both Evelyn and Frances Gandy and supporters of the preservation of their archives. “Both Carroll and I are extremely pleased with all of the work done resulting in the completion of the Gandy files for the Archives of The University of Southern Mississippi. We are most grateful for the University and those within the Archives Department who saw the value of the Gandy lives and their materials and who were willing to spend the hours, days, months, years doing whatever it took to bring all of this to reality.”
 
The Evelyn Gandy collection is available in McCain Library and Archives. The finding aid for the collection can be accessed by visiting http://lib.usm.edu/spcol/collections/manuscripts/finding_aids/m367. For more information about the collection, contact Steve Haller, curator of Historical Manuscripts and Archives at stephen.haller@usm.edu or 601.266.4117.