The 2015 Eudora Welty Prize will be awarded to Miki Pfeffer for her book Southern Ladies and Suffragists: Julia Ward Howe and Women's Rights at the 1884 New Orleans World's Fair. The Welty Prize is awarded each year for a book of outstanding work of literary scholarship on Women's Studies, Southern Studies, or Modern Letters—prize winning manuscripts have often combined all three of these areas.

Pfeffer will accept the award tonight, Friday, October 23 at the Mississippi University for Women’s annual Welty Gala. The keynote address will be delivered by best-selling author and leading political satirist P.J. O'Rourke.

Pfeffer will present her work at the The Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium, an annual October event at Mississippi University for Women in which Southern writers read from and discuss their works to an audience of several hundred.The program this year also includes a reading from UPM Marketing Director Steve Yates. Yates will be reading and discussing his most recent novel The Teeth of the Souls.

Southern Ladies and Suffragists, now available in paperback, chronicles the successes and setbacks of a lively cast of post-bellum women in the first Woman’s Department at a World’s Fair in the Deep South. Celebrities like Julia Ward Howe and Susan B. Anthony brought national debates on women’s issues into the South for the first time, and journalists and ordinary women reacted. At the World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition, the Woman’s Department became a petri dish where cultures clashed but where women from across the country exchanged views on propriety, jobs, education, and suffrage.

From a wide range of primary documents, author Miki Pfeffer recreates the sounds and sights of 1884 New Orleans after Civil War and Reconstruction. Her primary focus is on how difficult unity was to achieve, even when diverse women professed a common goal. Pfeffer memorializes women’s exhibits of handwork, literary and scientific endeavors, inventions, and professions, but she proposes that the real impact of the six-month long event was a shift in women’s self-concept of their public and political lives.

Southern Ladies and Suffragists also offers a view of post-Reconstruction New Orleans women and insight into how they lived and what they cared about. For some New Orleans ladies who were ready to seize the opportunity of this uncommon forum, the Woman’s Department offered a future barely dreamed. The book, now available in paperback, is also chock-full with pertinent illustrations from the era.

Mississippi University for Women is proud to honor the exceptional work of the University Press of Mississippi and to promote scholarship in the fields of Women's Studies, Southern Studies, and Literature through this prize in honor of its most famous alumna, Eudora Welty.

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Miki Pfeffer of Thibodaux, Louisiana, is an independent researcher and native New Orleanian whose work has appeared in the Encyclopedia of World's Fairs and Expositions and in journals such as the Louisiana Historical Journal and La Creole.