November 14, 2018  

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Walking Competition Celebrating Curious George’s 75th Birthday Begins Sept. 15

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University Libraries is celebrating the 75th birthday of Curious George by challenging University of Southern Mississippi faculty, staff, students and the Hattiesburg community to walk 75 miles in eight weeks. “Go George Go!” will begin Sept. 15 and conclude Nov. 12 and is designed to encourage health and wellness while celebrating a children’s literature icon.

Over the eight-week period, participants will be challenged to walk (or run) a minimum of 75 miles. Participants will compete as an individual, and at the conclusion of the challenge, the individual with the most miles will win an overall prize. Participants, campus and community members will be invited to a community birthday party for George on Nov. 12 at the Hattiesburg Zoo to celebrate George’s birthday and the completion of 75 miles.

“Our hope is that the University and Hattiesburg communities will join us in this challenge to celebrate one of our favorite children’s literature characters. We encourage our campus departments and community members to enjoy some friendly competition while advancing their health and fitness goals,” said Dawn Smith, assistant to the dean for publicity and outreach in University Libraries.

Registration for the challenge is now open and can be accessed by visiting Participants will also use this platform to log their mileage and will be able to synch with selected fitness tracking devises such as Fitbit and Garmin. You will also be able to download the free Challenge Runner mobile app to log your mileage on the go.

"Since Curious George has managed to travel around the world, making friends everywhere he goes, we decided to celebrate his 75 years by encouraging walking and health,” said Ellen Ruffin, curator of the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection.

The Reys created Curious George while living in France in early 1940. When the German army approached Paris in June 1940, the Reys fled on bicycles to Orleans where they boarded a train for the Spanish border. They moved on to New York City via Spain, Portugal, and Brazil between June and October. Settled in New York City, the Reys sealed a contract with Houghton Mifflin of Boston for four children's books in February 1941. They published Curious George later that year, although it would not become popular for another decade.

University Libraries’ de Grummond Collection holds the literary estate of H.A. and Margret Rey, curators of Curious George. Dr. Lena de Grummond accomplished her goal of collecting original materials from authors and illustrators of children’s books to use as resources for students by sending handwritten letters to authors and illustrators, including H.A. and Margret Rey. Through her correspondence, she was able to develop relationships on a personal level. Correspondence often included hand-drawn images, which made the letters even more personal. The image associated with Go George Go! was hand-drawn on a letter from H.A and Margret Rey to Dr. de Grummond.

For more information on the challenge, visit or contact Dawn Smith in University Libraries at