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Cully A. Cobb Papers

Identifier: MSS-47

Scope and Contents

The Cully A. Cobb papers consist of correspondence, reports, and other documents concerning the career and family of Cully A. Cobb.

Series 1, Secretary of Agriculture Candidacy, consists of materials documenting Cobb’s candidacy for Secretary of Agriculture in 1932. It includes letters from, and copies of letters to, extension workers, experiment station personnel, college and university officials, agricultural associations and organizations, commercial manufacturers, and editors and staff of farm papers and journals. Included are many letters to, and copies of letters from, Lois P. Dowdle (later Mrs. Cobb), President of the Association of Southern Agricultural Workers, and these letters include correspondence with Franklin Roosevelt. She served as the clearing house for all activities concerning Cobb’s candidacy.

Series 2, Agricultural Adjustment Administration, comprises material pertaining to Cobb’s time as the director of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration’s Cotton Division. Included are government forms, memos to and from Cobb, clippings, and letters to and copies of letters from Cobb regarding his resignation from the A.A.A. in 1937. Additional A.A.A. materials can be found in Scrapbooks 5 and 6.

Series 3, Other Career and Personal Materials, includes biographical materials; documents related to Cobb’s involvement in 4-H livestock competitions at Texas A&M University and elsewhere (including the later careers of two winners, Stephen A. Debnam and Jack Turner), biblical archaeology, church work, and various public events; and personal and professional correspondence.

Series 4, Publications, includes books from Cobb’s professional library.

Series 5, Scrapbooks and bound materials, includes the genealogical book The Cobbs of Tennessee, an 1879 business ledger belonging to Cobb’s father, Coca-Cola advertising materials, a presentation of costs and investments for use by the Ruralist Press, and nine scrapbooks containing documents and photographs related to Cobb’s personal life, friendships with General William Brougher and other figures, and work with the A.A.A. and Ruralist Press.

Series 6, Visual materials, includes photographs from Cobb’s personal and professional life, including the offices and workers at the Ruralist Press, fellow journalists and other colleagues, southern writer Corra Harris, travel, and family. Many of the photographs were used in the biography by Scott and Shoalmire.

There is one artifact: a cigar box with the name “R. L. Cobbs” (probably Cobb’s brother, Robert Lee Cobb) inscribed.

Some documents in the collection appear to have been damaged by fire, possibly the one at Cobb’s home, the Briar Patch, but readability is not affected. The collection is related closely to the Cobb Ruralist Press papers and the Lois P. Dowdle "Mrs. Cully" Cobb papers. All three collections overlap in subject matter and time.


  • 1846 - 1973
  • Majority of material found within 1932 - 1970


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

Cully Alton Cobb was born in Prospect, Giles County, Tennessee, on February 25, 1884, the sixth child of Napoleon Bonaparte “Bony” Cobb and Mary Agnes Woodward. Following his graduation from Mississippi A & M College (later Mississippi State University) in 1908, Cobb worked as an educator at the new Chickasaw County Agricultural High School. He was active in 4-H and livestock judging competitions during this time. In 1919, Cobb was offered the position of editor-in-chief at the Southern Ruralist, an Atlanta-based publication; Cobb and his family moved to Atlanta that year. After the death of Cobb’s first wife, Ora May “Byrdie” Ball, in 1932, he married Lois P. Dowdle in 1934.

In 1933, following an unsuccessful candidacy for Secretary of Agriculture in 1932, Cobb was appointed to oversee the Cotton Division of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (A.A.A.). The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 was the A.A.A.’s strategy for raising cotton prices by paying farmers to reduce their acreage. Following his retirement from the A.A.A. in 1937, Cobb purchased and ran the Atlanta-based Ruralist Press, one of the most important publishing companies in the South. He managed the press until 1971.

Mr. and Mrs. Cobb were ardent supporters of church work and biblical archaeology. They provided housing on their property for theology students at Emory University, they traveled often in Europe and the Holy Land, they donated to Atlanta’s Druid Hills Baptist Church and other churches, and their patronage led to the establishment of Mississippi State’s Cobb Institute of Archaeology.

Cully Cobb died on May 7, 1975.

For further reading, see Scott, Roy V. and J. G. Shoalmire, The Public Career of Cully A. Cobb; a study in agricultural leadership, Jackson: University and College Press of Mississippi, 1973.


2.4 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



Series 1. Secretary of Agriculture candidacy, 1932-1933 and undated.-Box 1

Series 2. Agricultural Adjustment Administration, 1932-1970 and undated.-Box 1; Oversize Manuscripts Box 15

Series 3. Other career and personal materials, 1846-1970 and undated.-Box 1; Oversize Manuscripts Box 15; Small Oversize Manuscripts Box 47

Series 4. Publications, 1892-1968 and undated.-Boxes 3-4; Oversize Manuscripts Box 15; Small Oversize Manuscripts Box 47; Oversize Newspapers

Series 5. Scrapbooks and bound materials, 1879-1973 and undated.-Boxes 2, 5; Small Oversize Manuscripts Boxes 48-49

Series 6. Visual materials, 1920-1967 and undated.-Visual Materials Photographs Box 41; Small Oversize Photographs Box 3; Small Oversize Manuscripts Box 47

Series 7. Artifact.-Artifacts Box 15

Processing Record

MSB, 1969. Susan Douglas, 1990. DeeDee Baldwin, February 2012.


Cully A. Cobb Papers
DeeDee Baldwin
February 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