Lillie West Oral Histories, Labor and Folk Song Books added to MH Ross Papers

Two important new accessions have been added to the Myron Howard “Mike” Ross papers, part of the Southern Labor Archives at Georgia State University Library.

The original donations of Ross’ papers were processed in 2001, and include correspondence, flyers, news clippings, photographs, reports, research files, manuscripts, and an oral history interview with Ross. These materials pertain to labor, politics, twentieth century social issues, Ross’ political campaigns, and coal mining.

To compliment the papers, Jane Ross Davis, daughter of M. H. Ross, has generously donated a collection of family oral histories and a collection of labor and folk song books that belonged to her father.

Thirty-five family oral histories were conducted with Lillie Mulkey West and family between 1969 and 1978.  Lillie Mulkey West, the mother-in-law of M. H. Ross, was a fourth generation North Georgian and an early ballad singer and worker-musician.  In his book, Roots of a Region, GSU Professor John A. Burrison describes Lillie as:

…a singer, quilter, and family herbal doctor…she was a true traditionalist, but something in her genes or upbringing (perhaps that independent spirit said to be a trait of mountain folk) made her unconventional, too: she read the New York Times under a huge magnifying glass, didn’t share  many of her neighbors’ and kinfolks’ superstitions (but enjoyed talking about them), and reared some very progressive offspring…she had one foot in the past, but the other firmly planted in the modern world.

The family oral histories and labor and folk song books are now available for research.

The Southern Labor Archives is part of the Special Collections and Archives Department of the GSU Library. Questions about the M. H. Ross Collection or the Southern Labor Archives should be directed to Traci JoLeigh Drummond at 404.413.2880 or at tdrummond@gsu.edu.

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