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Contact: Christine Payton Nov. 1, 2010
(337) 482-6397, payton@louisiana.edu
Ernest J. Gaines Center
Ernest J. Gaines and his wife, Dianne, with (starting left) Dean of Liberal Arts Dr. David Barry, UL Lafayete President Dr. Joseph Savoie and Dean of University Libraries Dr. Charles Triche.
Home to author’s complete collection of works

The site of the only complete collection of Ernest Gaines scholarship in the world opened Sunday at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Dupré Library.

The Ernest J. Gaines Center houses the author’s manuscripts, his papers and translations of his works. Gaines and his wife, Dianne, donated the collection to the university. He is Writer-in-Residence Emeritus at UL Lafayette.

The university has promised to maintain and preserve the collection in perpetuity, to make the collection available to scholars and to present programming about the author’s work through the center. The collection includes published and unpublished manuscripts, drafts and notes; selected personal and business correspondence; first editions of published works of the author; miscellaneous papers; awards, honors and memorabilia.

He is best known for “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” and “A Lesson Before Dying.”

“ We take great pride in housing this collection. Other universities have surely courted Ernest Gaines over the decades as his fame has grown. But he has remained steadfast in his loyalty to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette,” said UL Lafayette President Joseph Savoie. “So this center is a testament to the character of Ernest Gaines, who has never forgotten where he came from and has made all of us at the university – and the rest of Louisiana – very proud.”

The Gaines Center provides a space for scholars and students to work with Gaines’ papers and manuscripts.

“ (Lafayette) is not very far from where I grew up and its nearby the places that I write about. I am honored that they (his works) will be in my home state,”said Gaines. “ I moved in 1948 to get educated and returned 15 years later to finish my first novel. When I came here (to UL Lafayette), that was a great move. I don't regret it for a moment. I don’t regret any of those moves.”

The center also anticipates the donation of extensive papers, manuscripts and tape-recorded interviews of Gaines scholars, according to Dr. Marcia Gaudet, the center’s director. She is also the Dr. Doris Meriwether/BORSF Professor of English and Research Fellow of the Center for Cultural and Eco-Tourism.

“ We imagine this center as a place for both national and international researchers. We also see this as a place for our students and students within the community. We want this to be a place where students can come to visit. This is the only place in the world which will have this collection,” said Gaudet.

She noted that the center will coordinate other activities related to research and scholarship on the work of Gaines. The first of these activities will be an Ernest J. Gaines Scholars Conference at UL Lafayette, bringing in major scholars for presentations and inviting other scholars to do presentations and discussions in sessions, all focused on Gaines’s work. The first conference is tentatively planned for Fall 2012.

Another activity of the center will be the Ernest J. Gaines Speakers and Writers Series. This series will continue to bring major scholars and writers to the university and will focus on the work of creative writers and eminent scholars.

UL Lafayette established the Ernest J. Gaines Center in 2008. Construction of the center, located on the third floor of Edith Garland Dupré Library, began in August 2009 and was completed in Fall 2010.

In addition to the university’s contributions and support, activities of the center will also depend on philanthropic contributions. Fundraising initiatives are ongoing to support the activities of the center and to establish a permanent endowment.


About UL Lafayette
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is the second largest university in the state, with over 16,000 students. It’s a public institution that awards bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. It includes diverse offerings from the humanities to scientific research and leads the nation in areas like computer science, biology and nursing. Its student-athletes – Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns – compete in NCAA Division I, the highest level of collegiate competition. The campus is located in the heart of Acadiana – a rich cultural area known for its excellent food, music, festivals and quality of life.

Document last revised Wednesday, November 3, 2010 10:28 AM

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