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Collection Title: Whitworth College Collection

Press Release:

INFORMATION ABOUT HISTORIC WHITWORTH COLLEGE DONATED TO USM
September 16, 1996

Mr. Henry J. Ledet, director of the Lincoln-Lawrence-Franklin Regional Library in Brookhaven and president of the Brookhaven Trust, has donated to the department of Manuscripts and Archives in the McCain Library and Archives of the USM University Libraries copies of materials in his library which document the history of Whitworth College in Brookhaven.

The materials include copies of the index to the Whitworth College original documents which were removed from the college when it closed and are now housed in the library, as well as the index to 38 oral history interviews in the Lincoln Country Oral History Project, including historical sketches of Brookhaven churches and biographical sketches of prominent residents.

The gift also includes the text of a speech and the transcript of an oral history interview about the history of Brookhaven and Whitworth College by the late Mr. Henry Hobbs, Jr., attorney and amateur historian of Brookhaven.

Whitworth College was established as a Methodist women's college in 1858 by Milton J. Whitworth as the successor to the renowned Elizabeth Female Academy in Washington, which had been destroyed by fire. Mr. Whitworth was a Brookhaven planter and businessman who convinced railroad officials to divert the route of the railroad through Brookhaven and convinced A.E. Moreton, the architect of the French Opera House in New Orleans, to design the buildings of the new Whitworth College. Moreton remained to design several imposing residences and to make his home in Brookhaven.

During the Civil War Whitworth College became a Confederate hospital. After the war it reopened with Mr. Whitworth's financial support and played an important role in Mississippi higher education for many years. In 1928 it became a junior college, noted for the prominent musicians who came from all over the country to give performances on the campus.

After 1938 Whitworth College was affiliated briefly with Millsaps College, became a day school, and then an evening school for veterans attending college on the G.I. bill. From 1960 to 1976 it was operated by the Methodist Protestant Church as a four-year college and from 1976 to 1983 as Whitworth Bible College by a group of Christian businessmen.

Declining enrollment led to a final but futile effort to maintain the school as the Brookhaven Center for Leadership and Development. The school was finally closed and the property returned to the city of Brookhaven in 1984, but efforts to halt the demolition of 105-year-old Margaret Hall and the gymnasium building were unavailing.

Today there are five remaining Whitworth College buildings constructed in the 1920's, located on the crest of the highest hill in downtown Brookhaven. The college auditorium is currently being restored by the Brookhaven Trust as a public meeting hall. Three others are elegant brick multi-story buildings slowly sinking into decay. The former president's home now serves as a half-way house.


Accession Number: AM 96-50

Inclusive Dates: 1859-1983

Volume: .15 cu.ft.

Given By: Donated by Mr. Henry J. Ledet.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Form of Material:

The collection includes materials about historic Whitworth College in Brookhaven, Mississippi. The original Whitworth College documents are preserved in the Lincoln-Lawrence-Franklin Regional Library in Brookhaven.

  1. Copy of the index to the original Whitworth College documents.
  2. Copy of the index to 38 oral history interviews in the Lincoln County Public Library Oral History Project.
  3. Text of a speech and transcript of an oral history interview about the history of Brookhaven and Whitworth College by Henry Hobbs, Jr., attorney and amateur historian of Brookhaven.

Accession Number: AM 96-52

Inclusive Dates: 1996

Volume: 18 items

Given By: Donated by Mr. David Richards.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Form of Material:

Photographs of buildings remaining on the Whitworth College campus taken in 1996 by Mr. David Richards, Special Collections Librarian at The University of Southern Mississippi.


Accession Number: AM 96-57

Inclusive Dates: 1985

Volume: 1 item

Given By: Acquired by purchase.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Form of Material:

Copy of a dissertation entitled "A History of Whitworth Colelge for Women" by Kathleen George Rice, who received her doctorate in education from The University of Mississippi in 1985.


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