As Walters State’s third annual Mildred Haun Conference nears, organizers want to make the community aware of the extensive Appalachian book collection available at the college’s R. Jack Fishman Library. The collection is 60 books richer this year thanks to the generosity of one of the attendees of last year’s conference.
Dr. Richard Graybeal, a professor emeritus at Drew University, was so impressed by last year’s conference that he donated the funds to add to the library’s collection.
The Mildred Haun Conference is a celebration of the literature, scholarship and culture of Appalachia – just the kind of event that would attract Dr. Graybeal, now a Morristown resident.
“I have always been interested in Appalachia. Last year, I really got worked up when I saw all of the authors and the books. I enjoyed the presentations and meeting the authors. I wanted to make sure the students at the college and community members could read these wonderful stories,” Graybeal said.
This year’s conference is Feb. 1-2 at the Morristown campus and features author Anne Shelby. The conference is named in honor of Mildred Haun, who claimed both Hamblen and Cocke counties as her home. Her “The Hawk’s Done Gone” is considered one of the standards in Appalachian literature.
Graybeal’s fascination with Appalachian literature began many years ago after reading “Our Southern Highlanders.” He actually met his wife, Shirley, while researching Christianity in Appalachia years ago. She is a Morristown native and was a bus ministry volunteer at the time.
Graybeal retired after 50 years of teaching. He holds a B.A. from Emory and Henry College, a B.D. from Yale Divinity School and a Ph.D. from Yale Graduate School.
“Dr. Graybeal has become a cherished friend of the Mildred Haun Conference, and his generous donation has helped to expand the library’s impressive collection of Appalachian literature. We are excited to join the staff of the R. Jack Fishman Library in promoting and sharing this collection of Appalachian literature with our community,” said Carla Todaro, dean of the humanities division.
The library has since responded by cataloging the collection in a more convenient way for readers. A list of books available can be viewed at http://library.ws.edu/appalachian.
“I have pulled all of the books related to Appalachia and placed them in a more centrally located area. Books are organized by topic – ecology, folklore, music, cooking and so,” said Ann Richards, reference librarian at the college.
“Usage of these titles has grown significantly since we did this. I hope that the publicity from the Mildred Haun conference will make the community more aware of this specialized collection,” Richards said.
Community library cards are available to non-students who wish to utilize the library’s resources. With very few exceptions, all services are available. For more information, contact the library at (423) 585-6946.
For more information about this year’s Mildred Haun Conference, visit www.ws.edu/MildredHaunConference or call the Division of Humanities at (423) 585-6922.
In the picture: Dr. Richard Graybeal, professor emeritus at Drew University, attended last year’s Mildred Haun Conference at Walters State Community College. The event so moved Graybeal that he donated funds to add 60 books to the college’s Appalachian collection. From left are: Dr. Viki Rouse, associate professor of English; Dr. Carla Todaro, dean of the division of humanities; Tanya and Chris Wallace, stepchildren of Dr. Graybeal; Graybeal and his wife, Shirley; Sherri Jacobs, associate professor of English; and Ann Richards, reference librarian.