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Guide to the Cully A. Cobb papers

Summary Information

Mississippi State University Libraries
Cully A. Cobb papers
Date [bulk]
Bulk, 1932-1970
Date [inclusive]
2.4 Cubic feet

Preferred Citation

Cully A. Cobb papers, Special Collections Department, Mississippi State University Libraries.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Mississippi State University Libraries 

P.O. Box 5408
Mississippi State, MS, 39762

Publication date: February 2012

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.


Cully A. Cobb, 1969-1973.

Processing Record

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

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Mississippi Baptist Hospital.
  • Mississippi State University. Class of 1908.
  • Mississippi State University.
  • Texas A & M University.
  • The Southern Ruralist.
  • United States. Dept. of Agriculture.

Family Name(s)

  • Cobb family--Photographs.
  • Cobb family.

Geographic Name(s)

  • Georgia.
  • Giles County (Tenn.)
  • Grand Pre (N.S.)--Photographs.

Personal Name(s)

  • Brougher, William Edward, 1889-1965.
  • Cobb, Cully Alton, 1884-1975--Photographs.
  • Cobb, Cully Alton, 1884-1975.
  • Cobb, Lois D., (Lois Dowdle), 1889-1987--Photographs.
  • Cobb, Lois D., (Lois Dowdle), 1889-1987.
  • Cobb, Napoleon Bonaparte, 1849-1913.
  • Harris, Corra, 1869-1935--Photographs.
  • Roosevelt, Franklin D., (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945--Photographs.
  • Roosevelt, Franklin D., (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945.


  • 4-H clubs--Photographs.
  • 4-H clubs.
  • Advertising.
  • Agricultural administration.
  • Agricultural education.
  • Agricultural journalists.
  • Agriculture--Photographs.
  • Agriculture.
  • Archaeology.
  • Cotton.
  • Livestock--Judging--Photographs.
  • Livestock--Judging.
  • Mississippi State University--Alumni and alumnae.
  • Publisher and publishing--Photographs.
  • United States. Agricultural Adjustment Act 1933.

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Collection Inventory

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

 Box 1. Folder 1.  Correspondence from and to Extension workers, 1932-1933. 

 Box 1. Folder 2.  Correspondence from and to agricultural associations and organizations, 1932-1933. 

 Box 1. Folder 3.  Correspondence from and to the press, 1932-1933. 

 Box 1. Folder 4.  Correspondence from and to academic institutions, 1932 and undated. 

 Box 1. Folder 5.  Correspondence from and to experiment stations, 1932-1933. 

 Box 1. Folder 6.  Correspondence from and to commercial manufacturers, 1932-1933. 

 Box 1. Folder 7.  Other correspondence and materials related to Cobb's candidacy, 1932-1933. 

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Series 2. Agricultural Adjustment Administration, 1932-1970 and undated. 

 Box 1. Folder 8.  Speeches by Cobb, 1932-1937. 

 Box 1. Folder 9.  Memos, USDA material, and clippings, 1933-1936 and undated. 

 Box 1. Folder 10.  Government forms, 1933 and undated. 

 OS 15.  Cotton tax exemption sheet, 1934. 

 Box 1. Folder 11.  Correspondence related to Cobb's retirement, 1937. 

 Box 1. Folder 12.  Post-retirement correspondence, 1959-1970. 

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Series 3. Other career and personal materials, 1846-1970 and undated. 

 Box 1. Folder 13.  Later additions and related correspondence, 1959-1969 and undated. 

 SMO 47. Ash Khan Crew certificate of membership, 1952. 

 Box 1. Folder 14.  Materials from Cobb's representation of Mississippi State University at the inauguration of Arthur Gene Hansen as the President of the Georgia Institute of Technology, 1969. 

 Box 1. Folder 15.  Cobb correspondence copied from the Chicago Historical Society's Arthur W. Mitchell Collection, 1935-1937. 

 Box 1. Folder 16. Materials related to the Cobb Trust Fund, 1970. 

 Box 1. Folder 17.  Materials related to the 50th anniversity of the International Livestock Judging Contest, 1969-1970. 

 SMO 47.  Publication proofs and instructions for the 50th anniversary booklet. 

 OS 15.  Certificate for Stephen A. Debnam from the French Minister of Agriculture, 1945. 

 Box 1. Folder 18.  Correspondence related to church work, 1950-1969. 

 Box 1. Folder 19.  Materials from various events, 1923-1974 and undated. 

 Box 1. Folder 20. Materials related to Stephen A. Debnam, 1940-1948. 

 Box 1. Folder 21.  Materials related to Jack Turner, 1921-1955 and undated. 

 Box 1. Folder 22.  Miscellaneous family documents, 1846-1970 and undated. 

 Box 1. Folder 23.  Miscellaneous personal documents, 1919-1970 and undated. 

 SMO 47.  Mississippi State Senate resolution honoring Cobb and five others for their achievements, 1934. 

 Box 1. Folder 24. Passports and tickets, 1924-1968. 

 Box 1. Folder 25.  Travel documents, 1961-1968 and undated. 

 Box 1. Folder 26.  Memorials and obituaries, 1975 and undated. 

 Box 1. Folder 27.  Newspaper clippings, 1937-1961 and undated. 

 Box 1. Folder 28.  Documents removed from books, 1931 and undated. 

 Box 1. Folder 29.  Loose materials from Coca-Cola advertising manual. 

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  Series 4. Publications, 1892-1968 and undated. 


 Box 3. Folder 30.  1, 1923-1937. 

 Box 3. Folder 31.  2, 1938-1967. 

 Box 3. Folder 32.  USDA, Agricultural Adjustment: A Report of Administration of the Agricultural Adjustment Act, May 1933 to February 1934

 Box 3. Folder 33.  U.S. Government Printing Office, Farm Tenancy: Hearing Before the Committee on Agriculture, House of Representatives, 1937. 

 Box 3. Folder 34.  Sorrels, James E. , The Pearl River Valley Reservoir Project, 1962. 

 Box 4. Unfoldered. The Agricultural Problem in the United States. New York: National Industrial Conference Board, 1926. 

 Box 4. Unfoldered. Business Men’s Commission on Agriculture. The Condition of Agriculture in the United States and Measures for its Improvement. New York: National Industrial Conference Board, 1927. 

 Box 4. Unfoldered. Charter, Constitution, By-Laws and Rules of the New Orleans Cotton Exchange, undated. 

 Box 4. Unfoldered. Harvey, T. Weed, ed. Extension Service Handbook on Agriculture and Home Economics. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1927. 

 Box 4. Unfoldered.  Muscle Shoals Commission. Muscle Shoals: A Plan for the Use of the United States Properties on the Tennessee River by Private Industry for “the Manufacture of Fertilizers and Other Useful Products.” Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1931. 

 Box 4. Unfoldered.  Peek, George N. and Samuel Crowther. Why Quit Our Own. New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1936. 

 Box 4. Unfoldered. United States Department of Agriculture. Compilation of Agricultural Adjustment Act as Amended and Acts Relating Thereto. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1934. 

 Box 4. Unfoldered.  Woofter, T.J., Jr. Landlord and Tenant on the Cotton Plantation. Washington, D.C.: Works Progress Administration, 1936. 

 SMO 47.  American Cotton Grower, 1937. 

 Box 4. Unfoldered.  Dun's Review, 1932 October 8. 

 Box 4. Unfoldered.  Mississippi Farm Research, 1951-1955. (5) 

 OS 15.  Mississippi Farm Bureau News, 1937 August. 

 Box 3. Folder 35.  Foreign agriculture: 1, 1913-1926. 

 Box 3. Folder 36.  Foreign agriculture: 2, undated. 

 Box 3. Folder 37.  Business, 1931-1959 and undated. 

 OS 15.  Dun’s Review Weekly Review of Business, 1933 January 14, 28; February 4. 

 Box 3. Folder 38.  Urban development, 1965-1968 and undated. 

 Box 3. Folder 39.  Race and segregation, 1936-1963. 

 Box 3. Folder 40.  Education, 1937-1959. 

 Box 3. Folder 41.  Miscellaneous, 1936-1967 and undated. 

 Box 3. Folder 42. U.S. News & World Report issues, 1948. 

 SMO 47.  Dixie Roto Magazine, 1952 December 28, 1961 April 16. 

 SMO 47.  The Times-Picayune Magazine, 1949 February 20. 

Newspapers, 1892-1894: 

 OSN. The Current, Franklin, TN, 1894 May 3, 10. 

 OSN. The Monthly Sentinel, Chicago, 1892 April. 

 OSN. The National Economist, Washington, D.C., 1892 September 10, 1893 December 2. 

 OS 15. Pulaski Citizen Supplement, Pulaski, TN, 1892. 

 OS 15. The National Economist [pages 3-6], Washington, D.C., 1892 October 8. 

 OS 15. The Farmer’s Voice [pages 7-8], 1893. 

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  Series 5. Scrapbooks and bound materials, 1879-1973 and undated. 

 SMO 47.  Business ledger kept by Cobb's father, 1879. 

 SMO 47.  The Cobbs of Tennessee, book with genealogical information and photographs, published by Cobb at the Ruralist Press, 1968. 

 SMO 47.  Gavel presentation book, undated. 

 SMO 49. Coca-Cola advertising specifications, undated. 

 OS 15.  Font information posters, undated. 

 SMO 49.  Presentation of Ruralist Press billing breakdowns and investment results, undated. 

 Box 5.  Scrapbook 1: Cobb’s early life, family photographs, and various correspondence, 1906-1973. 

 Box 5.  Scrapbook 2: Family photographs, correspondence, and newspaper clippings, 1918-1967. 


Includes a letter from an unidentified history professor (probably A. W. Garner) recommending Cobb for the position of editor at the Southern Ruralist (1918), a letter from Cobb to his mother during the Agricultural Editors’ Association’s first trip to Europe (1924), and invitations to White House receptions (1934-1936).

 SMO 48.  Scrapbook 3: Family correspondence, newspaper clippings, obituaries, photographs, postcards, and other documents, 1910-1970. 

 Box 2. Scrapbook 4: Cully Alton Cobb, Jr. Scrapbook. Children’s drawings, cards, schoolwork, and photographs, 1916-1971. Pasted into Abstract of the United States Census, 1910. 

 Box 5.  Scrapbook 5: Agricultural Adjustment Administration reports, pamphlets, and documents collected in a binder, 1933-1935 and undated. 

 SMO 48.  Scrapbook 6: Agricultural Adjustment Administration correspondence, information about African-American extension agents, travel with the American Agricultural Editors Association, newspaper clippings, and photographs, 1920-1970. 


Includes copies of a letter to and reply from Helen Keller about her political views, 1955 (original can be found in the Ruralist Press papers).

 SMO 48.  Scrapbook 7: Ruralist Press work samples and price guides, undated. 

 Box 2.  Scrapbook 8: Photographs and documents related to the dedication of Eckies Pond, Class of 1908 reunion, and dedication of the Chapel of Memories at Mississippi State University, 1964-1969. 

 Box 5.  Scrapbook 9: Mississippi Baptist Hospital (Jackson, Miss.) Fund Campaign clippings and documents, possibly related to the Ruralist Press, 1944-1945. 

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  Series 6. Visual materials, 1920-1967 and undated. 

 VMP 41.  Photographs, 1920-1967 and undated. 

 SMOP 3.  Photographs, 1927-1941. 

 SMO 47. Prints of Norman Wilkinson's "Ships of the Seven Seas", undated. 

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Series 7. Artifact. 

 Artifacts 15.  Cigar box. 

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