New Deal in Mississippi: Old Winston County Library

Most of the town and county libraries in Mississippi began as Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) or Works Progress Administration (WPA) libraries (Martha H. Swain, Mississippi History Now).  The Library Project was considered a “showcase” project for the nation.  The Braille transcription section of the project operated in 51 Mississippi counties in 1939 and employed people who were blind, resulting in transcription of primarily children’s books.

Three historical projects that employed men and women left a legacy of inestimable value: The WPA workers wrote separate histories of every county in the state; they surveyed and inventoried historical records; and they located federal archival material scattered about the state. (Martha H. Swain, Mississippi History Now)

The first public library in Winston County was built by the WPA, and funding from the city of Louisville, Winston county, and individuals, in 1936 (Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Historic Resources Inventory database).  Mrs. Jennie Newsom Hoffman compiled the WPA history of Winston county in 1938.  In 1955, the library board paid to have a copy typed for the library.  The book has recently been re-printed and is available from Tauton Publishers.

old Winston County library front elevation

The Colonial Revival style library building sits behind City Hall, making it difficult to find, even when you are looking for it.  Just note that although the address is given in the HRI database as 510-A, that will take you down the street several blocks to an empty lot.  City Hall sits at 200 Church Street, Louisville, and the library is right behind it, barely visible from Church Street.  The error most likely can be attributed to City Hall’s post office box number, which is 510.  Since the building of the new library, the building is used by Girl Scouts.

Categories: Historic Preservation, Libraries, New Deal

3 replies

  1. When I was a small child, Oxford actually did not have a free-standing library. The library was in the third floor of the courthouse building, and presumably had been there since the additions to the courthouse in the 1940s. I have no idea what existed before that.

    The first free-standing library we had is just East of the Square on Monroe facing the parking lot on Jackson Avenue. It was built in the mid-1960s and feels truly tiny compared to the current (or any other) library; it is now the District Attorneys office and a part of the DHS office.


  2. Houston Mississippi has the first Carnegie Libary that was built in the state in 1909. It is still the city libary and is beautiful.


  3. Thanks for the updates on area libraries ya’ll!


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