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For Immediate Release
MUW alumnae featured in, contributed to ‘Mississippi Women’
By Jill D. O’Bryant
COLUMBUS, Miss. -- “Mississippi Women: Their Histories, Their Lives” features the biographies of 17 women, including three Mississippi University for Women alumnae and one former faculty member. Two of the contributors for the book also are alumnae.
“What these women had in common is the shared experience of attaining womanhood with all the attendant challenges, pains and privileges that entailed,” said Martha H. Swain, one of the editors, in the preface of the book. “Sometimes upholding traditional notions of gender and race, sometimes striving to overcome tradition, none were free from the constraints of social hierarchies.
“Neither were they free from what Mississippi writer Eudora Welty once called ‘the crossroads of circumstance’ that defined and still shapes the lives of Mississippi women.”
Available in November, the book, which was produced by the Mississippi Women’s History Project, features women with a variety of different backgrounds and a variety of different causes. MUW alumnae featured are Dr. Blanche Colton Williams, Dr. Elizabeth Lee Hazen and Eudora Welty.
Williams, a 1898 graduate of II&C, now MUW, served as chair of the O. Henry Memorial Awards Committee from 1919 to 1932. She was also known for promoting struggling writers.
The biography on Williams is written by Dr. Bridget Smith Pieschel, a
1979 MUW graduate and professor of English and head of the Division of
Humanities at The W. She also is co-author of “Loyal Daughters: A
“I have spent years researching her and thought it would be fun to write about her for this project,” Pieschel said about Williams. “I wanted people to know how significant she was.”
A 1910 graduate of II&C, Hazen was a scientist who co-discovered nystatin, an antifungal medication, in 1946. She and her co-discoverer later received the Chemical Pioneer Award from the American Institute of Chemists.
Dr. David Carson, a former MUW faculty member in the Division of Science and Mathematics, authored the biography on Hazen.
Welty, who attended MSCW, now MUW, from 1925 to 1927, received national and international acclaim for her writing, including the 1973 Pulitzer Prize in fiction for her novel "The Optimist's Daughter."
A member of the first faculty as mistress of English and elocution,
Pauline Van de Graaf Orr also is featured in the book. In addition to
serving as a faculty member for 28 years, she also was very active in
Dorothy Sample Shawhan, a 1964 graduate, contributed to the book by writing a biography on Minnie Brewer. Shawhan is a professor of English and chair of the Division of Languages and Literature at Delta State University. She is the author of “Lizzie” and is co-authoring a biography of Judge Lucy Somerville Howorth.
For more information about “Mississippi Women,” please email the
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