National Museum of Women in the Arts
Eudora Welty
April 13 1909 - July 23 2001
Photograph of Eudora Welty, unknown date, by Kay Bell, courtesy of Eudora Welty, LLC, Jackson, MS, USA
Place of Birth:
Phonetic Spelling:
yoo-DOHR-ah WEHL-tee
Minority status:
White non-Hispanic
Work Type/Media:
Artistic Role(s):
Artist's Biography:
Perhaps best known for her works of fiction, Eudora Welty is also recognized for her photographs of the American South. Welty was born in 1909 to parents that encouraged her interests in music and language. She attended the Mississippi State College for Women from 1925 to 1927 and the University of Wisconsin from 1927 to 1929 where she made frequent trips to Chicago to indulge her interests in theater and art. She spent the following year in New York at the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University where she studied marketing.

In 1931, because her father was suffering from poor health, Welty returned to Jackson where she worked at the radio station and wrote articles for the newspaper. Welty had begun taking pictures of people and places in Jackson and intended to make her living as a photographer. However when she applied to the Works Progress Administration, she was given a job as a Junior Publicity Agent. Welty continued traveling around the South capturing poignant images of daily life during the Depression as well as documenting WPA projects in the region.

In 1936, she exhibited her photographs at Lugene Opticians’ Photographic Galleries in New York. That same year, she published her first short story Death of a Traveling Salesman and began focusing on her writing, publishing more than a dozen major works of fiction and nonfiction during her lifetime and winning a Pulitzer Prize for her novel Optimist’s Daughter in 1973.

Having allowed her career as a photographer to slow in order to devote herself completely to her writing, Welty began donating her images and other documents from her work in the 1930s to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in 1957 and published a collection of photographs, One Time, One Place in 1971. Although primarily remembered as an author, Welty’s Depression-era photographs are recognized for their importance in documenting the developing American identity of the 1930s.

Other Occupation(s):
Author, Writer
Place(s) of Residence:
Where Trained/Schools:
Graduate School of Business, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA (1930-1931) University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA (1927-1929) Mississippi State College for Women, Columbus, MS, USA (1925-1927)
Related Visual Artists:
friend of Marie Atkinson Hull friend of Karl Wolfe friend of William Hollingsworth friend of Helen Jay Lotterhos
Fellowships, grants and awards:
Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur, Republic of France, Paris, France (1996) The National Medal of Arts, National Council on the Arts, Washington, DC, USA (1987) Fellowship, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, New York, NY, USA (1942)
Earliest exhibition:
Lugene Opticians' Photographic Galleries, New York, NY, USA (1936)
NMWA exhibition(s):
Passionate Observer: Photographs of Eudora Welty
Preserving the Past, Securing the Future: Donations of Art, 1987-1997
Artist retrospective(s):
Passionate Observer: Photographs of Eudora Welty, Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS, USA (2002-2007) (traveling exhibition)
Related places
Jackson (died at)
A Woman of the Thirties, Hinds County