Books & Giving

Lasseter Edits Book on Rebecca Harding Davis

Nineteenth-century fiction writer and journalist Rebecca Harding Davis produced more than 500 published works during her 50-year career. Best known for her 1861 novella, Life in the Iron Mills, she began writing in a style later known as literary realism a full 20 years before its generally accepted beginning in the 1880s.

A new book on Davis, co-edited by Samford University English professor Janice Milner Lasseter, sheds light on the writer's career as an early Realist and nineteenth-century cultural commentator. Rebecca Harding Davis: Writing Cultural Autobiography, published recently by Vanderbilt University Press, combines an annotated edition of Davis' 1904 autobiography, Bits of Gossip, with a previously unpublished Davis family history.

Sharon M. Harris of Texas Christian University was co-editor with Dr. Lasseter.

Davis' memoirs are not traditional autobiography. Rather, she shares her perspectives on the extraordinary cultural changes that occurred during her lifetime and the people--sometimes scandalous--who shaped those events. She includes portraits of famous people she knew, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Horace Greeley and others.

Together, the annotated memoir and family history provide a view of nineteenth-century American culture from an observer who wrote about it for half a century. Davis was born in 1831 and died in 1910. During her lengthy career, she produced short stories, novels, novellas, sketches and social commentary.

Her son, Richard Harding Davis, followed in her footsteps as a writer, gaining fame as a war correspondent and producer of fiction and non-fiction during the late nineteenth- and early twentieth century.

Lasseter is a nineteenth-century specialist and former chair of the Samford English department. She has written widely on Davis, including the chapter, "Hawthorne's Legacy to Rebecca Harding Davis" in the book, Hawthorne and Women.

Samford Receives Lilly Grant for Program Relating Faith to Vocations

Samford University received a $49,072 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. of Indianapolis, Ind., to develop a program that helps students examine the relationship between their faith and vocational choices.

The program will provide opportunities for students to explore Christian ministry as a vocation, and will enhance the capacity of faculty and staff to teach and mentor students in this area.

Samford was one of 50 church-related schools awarded such planning grants of more than 300 applicants nationally. The program is designed "to identify and nurture a new generation of highly talented and religiously committed leaders of church and society," according to the endowment.

The grant will enable Samford to coordinate the efforts of various programs and departments into an overall strategy for helping students relate their faith to their choice of vocation.

Plant an Endowment Tree . . . and Reap Its Dividend

Establishing an endowment fund at Samford University is like planting a tree. It results in:

  • Annual Harvests. Endowment earnings produce "acorns" every year for Samford, which can grow in the form of scholarships and other benefits for students.
  • Steady Growth. Only a portion of the earnings is spent each year. The remainder is added back to grow the fund for even greater use the following year and beyond.
  • Positive Results. Endowment funds make it possible for Samford to continue its mission of "nurturing persons, for God, for learning, forever."

You can plant an endowment tree at Samford and name it after a loved one, a person who has influenced you in a significant way or yourself. Your tree will yield annual endowment harvests that will provide positive results for generations to come.

Samford Director of Gift and Estate Planning Stan Davis is available to explain the steps and help you through the process of creating an endowment. You may contact him by E-mail at or by phoning (205) 726-2366.

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Maintained by University Relations. Last updated: June 18, 2002

Spring 2002
Vol. 19, No. 1

Seasons Staff

William Nunnelley
Mary Wimberley
Associate Editor
Jack Brymer
Contributing Writer
Sean Flynt
Contributing Writer
Scott Camp
Multimedia Graphic Designer
Donna Fitch
Web Designer & Editor
Janica York
Editorial Assistant
Caroline Baird Summers

Samford University Alumni Association Officers 2002-03

Bennie Bumpers '63
Sonya Bumpers '63

Tom Armstrong '73
Vice President

Brooke Dill Stewart '95

Seasons is published quarterly by Samford University, 800 Lakeshore Drive, Birmingham, Alabama 35229, and is distributed free to all alumni of the University, as well as to other friends. Samford University is an Equal Opportunity Institution and welcomes applications for employment and educational programs from all individuals regardless of race, color, age, sex, disability or national or ethnic origin.