James W. Silver and Martin J. Dain Collection (MUM00411)
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James W. Silver and Martin J. Dain Collection
Correspondence between James W. Silver, author of Mississippi: The Closed Society (1964), and Martin J. Dain, a photographer who documented Silver for Life magazine.
0.5 linear feet
James W. Silver and Martin J. Dain Collection (MUM00411). Archives & Special Collections, J.D. Williams Library, The University of Mississippi.
James W. Silver
James Wesley Silver was born on June 28, 1907, in Rochester, New York, and his family moved to Southern Pines, North Carolina, when he was twelve years old. He studied at the University of North Carolina, Peabody College, and Vanderbilt University, where he earned his doctorate. He began teaching at The University of Mississippi in 1936 and served as chairman of the department of history from 1946 to 1957.
He is the author of many books, including Edmund Pendleton Gaines: Frontier General (1949), A Life for the Confederacy (1959), A Surgeon’s Recollections (1960), Mississippi in the Confederacy (1961), and Confederate Morale and Church Propaganda (1967). His most well-known book, however, is the bestselling Mississippi: The Closed Society, published in 1964. In this work, Silver critiqued Mississippi’s racial policies and described it as closed to freedom of inquiry. He called Mississippi’s failure to accept the “inevitability of change” a “social felony” and compared contemporary attitudes in the state to those of the Civil War period. When Mississippi: The Closed Society was released, Silver cited James Meredith, the first African American student at The University of Mississippi, author William Faulkner, and civil rights leader Aaron Henry as significant influences on his ideas about Mississippi. In 1962, Silver had served as a friend and advisor to Meredith when he enrolled at the University amidst great controversy.
Silver first publicly presented this material in a presidential address before the Southern Historical Association on November 7, 1963. His speech touched off a storm of both praise and criticism around the country, particularly in Mississippi. The Mississippi legislature, as well as some members of the University’s Board of Trustees, explored the possibility of dismissing Silver. After twenty-eight years on the faculty, however, Silver’s position was secure, and a violation of his tenure rights could have jeopardized the University’s accreditation status.
Although Silver initially hoped to outlast the controversy caused by his book, he took a leave of absence from The University of Mississippi in 1964 to teach at the University of Notre Dame. He eventually accepted a regular teaching position there, and later taught at the University of South Florida.
Silver passed away on July 25, 1988, in Tampa, Florida.
Martin J. Dain
Martin J. Dain, a photographer originally from Massachusetts, was an admirer of the writings of William Faulkner. His interest in Faulkner’s work led him to travel to Mississippi in 1961 and begin photographing the state. Dain is one of the few photographers given access to Faulkner at Rowan Oak, the author’s home in Oxford, Mississippi. He also extensively photographed the town of Oxford and the surrounding landscape of Lafayette County, inspiration for Faulkner’s fictional Yoknapatawpha County. In 1962, Dain returned to Mississippi to photograph Faulkner’s funeral for Life Magazine. Also for Life, he photographed University of Mississippi professor James Silver, whose book Mississippi: The Closed Society, set off a storm of praise and criticism for its critique of Mississippi’s racial and social order.
Dain’s work is featured in the books Faulkner’s Country: Yoknapatawpha, published by Random House in 1964, and Faulkner’s World: The Photographs of Martin J. Dain, edited by Tom Rankin and published by the University of Mississippi Press in 1997.
The James Silver and Martin Dain Collection consists of fourteen folders of correspondence and interviews between James W. Silver, professor at the University of Mississippi and author of Mississippi: The Closed Society, and Martin Dain, a photographer who traveled frequently to Oxford, Mississippi, to document William Faulkner and the hill country region in which Faulkner lived. The collection includes correspondence from the early 1960s, when Dain was preparing his book, Faulkner’s Country: Yoknapatawpha, through the 1980s.
This collection is protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).
The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship or research.” If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use”, that user may be liable for copyright infringement.
Dain, Martin J.
Lafayette County (Miss.)
Mississippi — Race relations
Mississippi — Social conditions
Silver, James W. (James Wesley), 1907-
Donated to The University of Mississippi in two deposits, circa 1992 and 1993.
Correspondence Dain/Silver/Massey. January 1962- October 1962.
Correspondence Silver/Dain. January 1964- March 1964.
Correspondence Silver/Dain. May 1974.
Correspondence Silver. October 1978.
Correspondence Silver/Dain. April 1981- November 1981.
Correspondence Silver/Dain. February 1982- December 1982.
Correspondence Silver/Dain. July 1983- November 1983.
Correspondence Silver/Dain. June 1984- August 1984.
Correspondence Silver/Dain. March 1986- April 1986.
Correspondence Silver/Dain. Undated.
Articles, Book Reviews.
Copies of Speeches.
Correspondence. 1967 and undated.