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James Agee Collection finds new home at University of Tennessee Libraries

The Special Collections Library at the University of Tennessee is the new home to one of the largest collections of James Agee materials. The collection, spanning nearly 15 linear feet, includes letters, fragments of stories and screenplays, and poetic scratchings written by Knoxville’s native son. Deedee Agee, James Agee’s daughter, and her husband, Paul Sprecher, head of the James Agee Trust, brought the materials to Knoxville on April 12, just before the start of the James Agee Celebration at UT.

“These materials are from the family household, that just didn’t happen to get caught up in other collections,” Sprecher said. By depositing the materials at UT, the family hopes the materials will be more available and useful to scholars.

One of the most unique items is a brown spiral notebook Agee used as a journal, writing in his “miniscule, unreadable handwriting,” Deedee Agee said. Some of the material from this notebook and others is contained in James Agee Rediscovered, edited by Michael Lofaro and Hugh Davis and recently published by UT Press.

“This is a goldmine of information for Agee scholars,” Barbara Dewey, Dean of Libraries, said. “It compliments the Agee materials we already own so well. We’re pleased the family has chosen UT, and we look forward to being good stewards of the collection.”

Currently, the materials are contained in a variety of file boxes and need to be arranged and organized so scholars can find what they need. Special Collections staff will process the collection this summer.

An exhibit of the Libraries’ James Agee Collection is currently on display at the Special Collections Library, and will remain open until August. For more information about the exhibit, visit their exhibit Web page.

For information about viewing the collection, contact Aaron Purcell, University Archivist, at 865-974-0048. The Special Collections Library is located in Hoskins Library, 1401 Cumberland Avenue, at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

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