A Collection Large and Full of Treasures

Feature story for the Rhodes Magazine

Summer 2011

As moves go, it wasn′t such a great distance. Only a little over two miles to be exact, from the study of a turreted, fairy-tale-like house on East Parkway to the Gothic, shady campus on North Parkway. Nevertheless, the acquisition by Rhodes College of the Shelby Foote Collection of writings, papers, hand-drawn maps, photos and memorabilia is such that it will take researchers and students on a journey through decades worth of history, stories and lessons.

The collection is a major gain for the college. On a rainy March morning in the warm confines of the Paul Barret Jr. Library, dignitaries and notables gathered to see and speak about the significance of the Foote collection to the worlds of literature, research, history and Rhodes itself.

As President Bill Troutt said that morning, the acquisition of the Foote collection “is a very special moment in the life of our college.”

Though many of the items had been on loan for years to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, there was never much doubt that Foote’s ties to Rhodes were strong, as he received an honorary degree in 1982 and lectured on campus in 1988 and 1991.

When son Huger Foote set out to find a permanent home for his father’s vast collection of papers and books, he kept the elder Foote’s wishes and beliefs close to heart. Huger says of his task: “With that spirit in mind, things were somewhat simplified. At any juncture, I only needed to ask, ‘What would my father have wanted?’ and follow that course … It was important to me that the entire collection be kept intact and preserved in its full integrity to inspire and, I think, amaze this and future generations of scholars. Rhodes shares this vision.” … (read more)