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Allen Eugene Cox Papers

Identifier: MSS.45

Scope and Contents

The collection is organized into eight series which represent the original accession received between 1967 and 1970 and the subsequent seven additions received between 1971 and 1996. The numbering of the boxes in the first series includes a roman numeral to denote the original box numbering of this series. The organization of the folders within the series—mostly alphabetical—and the folder titles are substantially those of Mr. Cox. Folders have been divided where the contents were excessive. The materials in the collection concern the development of civil society in Mississippi, the South and the wider United States during much of the twentieth century focusing on civil rights and race relations, the rights of farm and urban labor, government and politics, economic inequality and the Protestant churches.

Series 1, Original Accession, 1967-1970, contains correspondence, clippings and publications mostly from the 1950s and 1960s. The battle between the supporters of civil rights for African Americans and their segregationist opponents is documented. There are folders on the White Citizens’ Councils, the Ku Klux Klan, the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission (Boxes 1-2) and the African American protests (Box 5), including many publications on race relations (Box 10). This series contains material related to Cox’s work for the National Council of Churches (Box 3) and publications on the church’s social role (Boxes 10-11), as well as documenting H.L. Mitchell and the National Agricultural Workers Union (Box 4). One folder of particular interest concerns the Rust Cotton Picker Company (Folder 17, Box 4) since the Rusts were early backers of the Delta Cooperative Farm. A film showing a demonstration of the company’s revolutionary machine is included. A number of folders contain material on the Providence credit union and there are also publications on credit unions and cooperatives from the period of the Delta Cooperative Farm’s founding (Boxes 5-6). Cox donated a substantial amount of correspondence related to the Socialist Party and farm trustee Dr. William Amberson from the 1930s, and the Southern Tenant Farmers' Union from the same period, to the University of Memphis but copies were made for him and these can be found in Box 8. Cox’s work with unions both urban and rural is reflected in folders of labor publications (Box 9) and material on the Mississippi AFL-CIO (Box 8). There are also scattered folders on the cooperative farms in Box 8 including a financial statement from 1936, a statement to the trustees by Amberson revealing the divisions in the board, and copies of correspondence between Amberson and Sam Franklin (the originals are held by the University of North Carolina).

The second series, 1971 Addendum, is of similar content to Series 1, with the battle for civil rights a prominent subject. There are folders on African American protests, the NAACP, school desegregation, and the Ku Klux Klan and the Citizen’s Council (Boxes 11-12). Folders on private schools and the shootings at Jackson State College can be found in Box 12, while folders on union activities are in Boxes 12-13. Publications covering civil rights, education, the church and unions are in Boxes 13-14.

Series 3, 1972 Addendum, is a small series with folders on welfare and poverty, African American protest groups, the National Council of Churches and the Delta Ministry. The series contains some publications on race relations and economic topics.

1973 Addendum is Series 4. It contains folders on white supremacist groups and Alabama Governor George Wallace, and their opponents. Other subjects covered include Holmes County, Mississippi, and a group of folders related to the 1955 meeting in Tchula where Cox and Minter were asked to leave the county (Boxes 17-18). The publications include The Black Panther, Black Chronicle, and Many Voices.

Series 5, 1974 Addendum, is another small series. It contains folders on Holmes County, Mound Bayou, and Greenwood, Mississippi, as well as most other subjects in previous series. The publications are mostly 1973 issues of union and civil rights periodicals.

The sixth series, 1975 Addendum, contains similar material to other series but has a number of folders on the Farm Labor Union (Box 20). It also contains material on the Committee of Southern Churchmen and individuals such as Will D. Campbell, Sam Checkver, Clay East, and Margaret Valiant. Publications include Katallagete, The Black Panther, and The Thunderbolt.

Series 7, 1978 Addendum, is a larger series with folders continuing Cox’s interest in civil rights, unions, and economic inequality. It includes folders on prisons, the NAACP, white collar crime, the politically active Ford family of Memphis, Tennessee, and the death of Elvis Presley. The publications include Southern Coalition on Jails and Prisons Report and The Southern Patriot and The Southern Struggle.

The largest series is the eighth series, 1996 Addendum. This contains a significant amount of material on the Cooperative Farms and their participants, and the Delta Foundation, including historical information, correspondence, financial records, and plats (Boxes 28-34). Personal records relating to Gene and Lindy Cox, including financial records, can be found in Boxes 32, 35-36. The series includes a large number of folders with copies of newspaper clippings on the whole range of Cox’s interests, such as energy, politics, race relations, Holmes County, Elvis Presley, the Peoples Temple, prisons, and space exploration. The publications cover agriculture and rural life, the church, the economy, government, history, and race relations, and there are also a group of university extension service and Department of Agriculture bulletins, and other periodicals. The series also contains some 16mm films shown at the cooperative farms and a film documenting the Head Start program at Providence farm. There are also photographs of the cooperative farms, including an album compiled around 1937. Some artifacts revealing Cox’s hobbies complete the series.


  • 1880 - 1996
  • Majority of material found within 1935 - 1987


Access Restrictions

Open to all researchers.

Use Restrictions

Any requests for permission to publish, quote, or reproduce materials from this collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian for Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Mississippi State University as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Biographical Information

Allen Eugene “Gene” Cox was born in Denison, Grayson County, Texas, on August 13, 1905. His father, James Edgar Cox, was a dairyman from Missouri and his mother, Laura May Lott Cox, came from Prairie Grove, Arkansas. Cox was the eldest of two boys and four girls. He attended four schools in Denison between 1912 and 1916 because the family often moved. By 1920 he was living in Dallas and attending school there but left in the 7th grade. Cox then worked for a merchant in Dallas until 1927. Early that year he moved to El Paso where he was employed in the accounting departments of the Armour Packing Company and the Magnolia Petroleum Company. In 1931 he entered Texas Christian University with the intention of entering the ministry. He was active in the International Relations Club and involved in promoting civil rights for African Americans.

After meeting the prominent missionary Sherwood Eddy at a revival, Cox became interested in the cooperative farm project Eddy had founded at Hillhouse (later called Rochdale), in Bolivar County, Mississippi. Also involved with Eddy on the Delta Cooperative Farm project, purchased in March 1936, were theologian Reinhold Niebuhr; John and Mack Rust, inventors of the cotton picking machine; William Amberson, a physiology professor at the University of Tennessee Medical School in Memphis, Tennessee, who was also the leader of the Memphis Chapter of the Socialist Party of America; Sam H. Franklin, Eddy’s student; and H.L. Mitchell, executive secretary of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union. The 2,138-acre farm a was diverse operation under resident director Franklin and had a mix of Black and White families, mostly evicted Arkansas sharecroppers. It promoted economic equality and gave both races access to various social services. Cox moved there in June 1936 to work as accountant and bookkeeper. There he met Miriam Lindsey “Lindy” Hail (1911-1996) who was born in Japan to missionaries John Eugene Hail (1873-1911) and Harriet J. Wyckoff Hail (1874-1942). She had trained as a registered nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital and was also recruited by the cooperative farm in 1936. Gene and Lindy married the following year. They had three daughters: Carol, Patricia Gail, and Ann.

After Franklin enlisted in the navy in 1942, Cox became resident director of Providence Cooperative Farm, bought in 1938, near Cruger, Holmes County. But the cooperative farms were struggling. The Delta Cooperative Farm was on land difficult for farming and was never viable without outside money. This problem was made worse by the exodus of rural workers entering the armed services and moving to war-related industries, which led to the sale of the Delta Cooperative Farm in 1942. Cox found Providence could not compete against the mechanized farms and leased much of its land to private farmers. David R. Minter became farm doctor in 1938 and returned in 1946 after serving in the war. In that same year, Delta Foundation Inc. was organized as a non-profit organization primarily for educational work. In 1950, Sam Franklin, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Charles S. Johnson resigned from the Providence board of trustees and a new board of directors was formed comprising Gene and Lindy Cox, and David and Mary Sue Minter. By the 1950s Providence included a cooperative grocery, a credit union, a purchasing cooperative, a supplementary school for African American children and a medical clinic. Cox became acting director of the Mount Beulah Christian Center, near Edwards, Mississippi, in 1954 to offer religious and social services to African Americans.

Despite some early efforts by local plantation owners to undermine the cooperative farm, Cox and the people on the cooperative farms had generally cordial relations with the surrounding communities in Bolivar and then Holmes County until the early 1950s. But that cordiality began to change as some whites were concerned about the work of the farm with African Americans because the interaction was not strictly segregated. The label of communist was also attached to the farm leaders. They seemed out of sympathy with locals after Minter testified in support of Hazel Brannon Smith, editor of the Lexington Advertiser, in a libel case in which she accused a local sheriff of an unprovoked shooting of an African American man. On September 27, 1955, a group of about 600 white people organized by the local Citizens’ Council met at Tchula High School to protest an incident where some African American boys had allegedly whistled at a white girl. Tensions were already high because of the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, decision and the acquittal a week earlier of two white men for the murder of African American youth Emmett Till in the Mississippi Delta. Summoned to the meeting, Cox and Minter heard a tape recording of the boys’ interrogation conducted the previous day, which included references to mixed activities among the races at the farm. Both Cox and Minter denied racial integration was practiced there but Cox admitted he thought segregation was unChristian. The Cox and Minter families were asked to leave the county but initially they refused. The incident received national attention and the farm families suffered harassment from the local sheriff’s department. Bowing to the inevitable, the Cox and Minter families left Mississippi, with the former moving to Whitehaven in Memphis, Tennessee, where Cox worked for the National Council of Churches as director of rural development programs. Providence farm was sold to the Delta Foundation with Gene Cox acting as executive director. The intention was for the foundation to carry on the work of the farm as the founders had intended. Lindy Cox and the Minters, now living in Texas, continued as directors. The farm, run by Fannye Booker, continued to have a store and offered educational programs to local African Americans.

Cox was deeply affected by being forced to leave Mississippi and in order to protect the image of the cooperative farms he decided to restrict some of his papers in later years. Yet, he was also determined not to abandon Mississippi and he continued to visit the state as part of his work for the NCC. He was active with religious groups and civil rights organizations and as part of an effort to publicize and document the situation in Mississippi and further afield, he collected materials including voluminous clippings which he copied and distributed. It says much about the organized nature of the man, his attention to detail and determination, and his wide interests, that he compiled such extensive files. Cox was very involved with the labor activities of H.L. Mitchell and the two men were life-long friends. He was very interested in the history of telephones and established a small museum. Another interest was archeology and he also collected and polished stones which he would give to the wide circle of people he met. Cox became increasingly concerned about the legacy of the cooperative farms and began donating his papers to a number of institutions including Mississippi State University Libraries. He also encouraged others like Mitchell and fellow director, minister and social critic Will Campbell to do the same.

By the 1980s a decision had to be made on the future of Providence farm. Nearly 289 acres containing an archeological site was donated to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, while the remaining land was sold to the Nature Conservancy in 1991. In their retirement, Gene and Lindy volunteered extensively for the Memphis Regional Medical Center which was recognized by Congressional Community Service Awards in 1981. Gene Cox died after a stroke on December 19, 1992. Lindy Cox died on August 1, 1996.


Allen Eugene Cox papers.

Cobb, James C. The Most Southern Place on Earth: The Mississippi Delta and the Roots of Regional Identity, 1992, pp.222-224.

Dunbar, Anthony P. Against the Grain: Southern Radicals and Prophets 1929-1959, 1981, pp. 119, 200, 244-245, 259.

Franklin, Sam H. Early Years of the Delta Cooperative Farm and the Providence Cooperative Farm, 1980.


47.75 Cubic Feet (: 44 record cartons; 1 large ms. box; 2 SMO folders; 2 OS folders; 1 LgOS folder; 1/3 SVMP box; 1 VMP ms. box; 1 VMArt folder; OSP; 1 AVOF box; Artifacts)

Language of Materials



Series 1. Original Accession, 1967-1970 - Boxes 1-11; Small Oversize Manuscripts Box 40; Oversize Manuscripts Box 14; Audiovisual: Oversize Film; Ledger

Series 2. 1971 Addendum - Boxes 11-14

Series 3. 1972 Addendum - Boxes 14-16

Series 4. 1973 Addendum - Boxes 16-19; Artifacts Box 6

Series 5. 1974 Addendum - Boxes 18, 20-21

Series 6. 1975 Addendum - Boxes 20, 22-23

Series 7. 1978 Addendum - Boxes 24-27

Series 8. 1996 Addendum - Boxes 28-45; Small Oversize Manuscripts Box 40; Oversize Manuscripts Box 14; Large Oversize Manuscripts Folder 14; Small Visual Materials: Photographs Box 5; Visual Materials: Photographs Box 42; Oversize Photographs Drawer VIII; Visual Materials: Art Box 1; Audiovisual: Oversize Film; Artifacts Box 6


Allen Eugene Cox and Lindy Cox, 1967-1996; James Shotts, 2011.

Existence and Location of Originals

The collection contains copies of correspondence Mr. Cox deposited with the University of Memphis and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The former concerns the Socialist Party and the Southern Tenant Farmer's Union, and the latter is between Dr. William R. Amberson and Sam H. Franklin. The copies are in Box 8.

Related Archival Materials

A. Eugene Cox Papers, 1953-1968. Archives and Special Collections, University of Mississippi Libraries.

Delta and Providence cooperative farms papers, 1925-1963, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Delta Cooperative Farms records, 1936-1966, Special Collections, University of Memphis Libraries.

Paul J. Vanderwood papers on the Delta Cooperative Farm, 1938-1964, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

William Ruthrauff Amberson papers, 1915-1977, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Southern Tenant Farmers' Union records, 1934-1991, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

William R. Amberson papers, 1933-1940, Special Collections, University of Memphis Libraries.

Southern Tenant Farmers Union ephemera, 1934-1973, Special Collections, University of Memphis Libraries.

Separated Materials

The following items have been separated to Special Collections:

The Freedom Climb: a chronology of over 400 years of history in America of the Afro-American's heroic struggle to gain his rightful place in the country where he lived, fought, struggled, worked, died and loved. Back Pub. Co., Dover, Del., 1969.

Women in Mississippi Industries: A Study of Hours, Wages, and Working Conditions. Bulletin 55, U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau, 1926.

1961 United States Commission on Civil Rights Report, Books 1-5.

A Report to the 1962 Regular Session, Mississippi State Legislature by the General Legislative Investigating Committee on the Investigation of Un-American Activities in the State of Mississippi.

East, P. D., Editorial Reprints from The Petal Paper, 1957.

Telephone Directory, Lexington, Durant, Goodman, Pickens, Tchula, West, Miss., Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company, 1954.

The following item has been separated to the Music Collection:

Root, George F. and Clara Louise Burnham. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: A Juvenile Operetta in Four Scenes, John Church Co., Cincinnati, 1888.

The following item has been separated to the Circulating Collection:

Rhodes, Henry T. F. Alphonse Bertillon: Father of Scientific Detection, 1956.

Processing Information

The arrangement of the collection is largely that of Mr. Cox. However, the 1996 Addendum included boxes of loose clippings and publications which required arrangement and description. The original folders were replaced with new folders retaining the original titles. The collection contained a very large number of clippings from newspapers and magazines; these were copied and the originals (8.5 cubic feet) were disposed of. Duplicate documents and publications (5 cubic feet) were disposed of. The Delta Foundation cancelled checks (0.5 cubic feet) were disposed of. The Cox personal financial records were sampled and 0.75 cubic feet of cancelled checks, checkbook stubs and invoices were disposed of. Four folders containing medical and insurance statements and receipts were disposed of. One 16mm film, The River, Farm Security Administration/ Paramount Pictures, 1938, was in poor condition and was disposed of.

Allen Eugene Cox Papers
Gerald Chaudron
January 2012
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts Repository