Eudora Welty and Palaemon Press at South

By: Hayden Cordova | Lifestyle Editor

On Friday, Sept. 6, the Palaemon Press Limited Exhibit Opening and Reception took place in the Marx Library Rodning Gallery. This was the most recent addition to the Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library. It was generously donated by Dr. John Ardale and Beverly Ardale, which included a variety of poetry collections, novels, and prints by the Palaemon Press Limited of Winston-Salem, Massachusets.  The most notable donation was a collection of twenty photographs by famous novelist Eudora Welty portraying the South during the Great Depression.

The story of how the Palaemon Collection came to the University of South Alabama was just as unique as the books and photographs gathered within. E. Lorene Flanders, Executive Director of the University Libraries, discussed this in detail:

Dr. Ardale and his wife lived in the North Carolina area and had collected a number of materials from the Palaemon Press Limited, which only published for about 10 or 12 years. The Eudora Welty photographs hung in Dr. Ardale’s medical office for 40 years; the press books remained in the couple’s home during this time. The couple was planning to move to Florida, so they decided to donate their collection to Duke University.  However, Duke University and a number of other universities in the North Carolina area already had full collections and declined. The couple searched the internet for a university with room for such a collection, as well as a strong connection to Southern literature and history considering the photographs’ Southern subjects. The University of South Alabama was the best fit, and the couple contacted the Marx Library to discuss donating their collection.

This donation to USA did not go unappreciated by faculty and students. Members of multiple departments, including English and Math, attended the opening to express their admiration of the Palaemon Collection’s significance and usefulness to USA.

“I think it’s a wonderful resource,” said Charlotte Pence, Director of Creative Writing in the English Department. “The conversation is that some of these poems have not been published elsewhere. What’s great is that they won’t just sit there, they’ll be put to good use.”

Steven Trout, Department Chair of the English Department,  stated that USA will build forthcoming coursework and selections around the Palaemon Collection.

Candice Fairchild, one of the attending students related her high hopes for the Palaemon Collection’s future at South. 

“What excites me about the exhibit is the opportunity for students to be able to come to the archives and actually handle these books,” said Fairchild, “I think there is a situation where we are losing touch with physical copies of books, especially ones like these, so to have the opportunity to be able to not only read them but to feel them and look at them as works of art is very important, and I feel that it’s going to be a great asset.”