During the 2014-2015 academic year, Paine College was awarded $33,631 from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) of the United Methodist Church. The award will enhance the ability of faculty and students at Paine to produce scholarship on the prolific author and Paine College alumnus, Frank G. Yerby.
Frank Yerby who was posthumously inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame in 2006, earned a Bachelor of Arts in English degree at Paine College in 1937. During his time at the College, he penned the Paine College Hymn and published poetry and a short story in the Paineite.
After graduating from Paine, Yerby earned a master’s degree from Fisk University. Then, he worked a variety of jobs from teaching to working in a motor plant. All the while he was writing several protest short stories and then more than thirty popular novels before his death in 1991.
Frank Yerby was one of the most commercially successful writers of the 20th Century. Yerby’s best known novel published in 1971, “The Dahomean”, sold over fifty-five million hardback and paperback books worldwide. His novel 1946 novel, “The Foxes of Harrow”, was the first novel written by an African American to sell more than a million copies.
According to Dr. Catherine L. Adams, recently named the principal investigator of the GBHEM grant, “We will now be able to fund a range of interdisciplinary projects that require acquisition of materials related to the work of Yerby, travel to archives where Yerby materials are housed, and research assistants for data collection on Yerby.”
“It is an exciting time at Paine College to build an infrastructure to support and generate scholarship on Yerby, says Dr. Adams. “We currently have faculty and student co-researchers working on Yerby projects in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Media Studies. Other departments have also been invited to develop discipline-specific projects on Yerby. I know we will be well-prepared for the grand centennial celebration of Yerby’s birth in November 2015, and the grant from the GBHEM is integral to that preparation.”
2014 Yerby Scholars with Dr. Jessie Carney Smith, Dean of the Library at Fisk University
Dr. Jessie Carney Smith (seated) with Yerby Scholars on a field trip to the Fisk Special Collections: Cierra Washington, Gia Dorsey, and Ijeoma Alston, under the direction of Dr. Catherine L. Adams.