Friday, June 25, 2021

Former Ole Miss Professor Bill Ferris’ Artwork Featured in Washington Post

Bill Ferris, who ran the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, is profiled in a Washington Post multi-media feature, “Stories of the Segregated South: A Folklorist’s Promise.”

William R. Ferris is a professor of history at UNC-Chapel Hill and an adjunct professor in the Folklore Curriculum. He is associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South, and is widely recognized as a leader in Southern studies, African-American music and folklore. Photos by Andrew Kaufman. 

From 1979 to 1997, Dr. Ferris presided from Barnard Observatory over the Center for the Study of Southern Culture. He was the Center’s founding director and co-editor of the landmark “Encyclopedia of Southern Culture.” He came to Ole Miss after teaching at Jackson State University and Yale, and left Oxford to head the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Images and videos selected by the Washington Post include folk artist James “Son Ford” Thomas; Tom Johnson, who taught his hogs to wait while he said grace over their meal; Jim Steed, the blacksmith in Utica, Mississippi; gospel vocalist Fannie Belle Chapman; young novelist Alice Walker; and the grande dame of Mississippi writers, Eudora Welty.

Dr. Ferris.

Dr. Ferris has been curating a set of civil-rights era photos that will be shown this fall at the Pavillon Populaire in Montpellier in the south of France. His own archives and collections can be explored at the Wilson Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Washington Post feature can be viewed here.

Allen Boyer is the Book Editor for He is a native of Oxford who lives and writes in Staten Island.