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O.V. Austin Papers

Identifier: M309

Scope and Contents

This collection contains three folders of materials relating to the personal and professional activities of Oliver V. Austin. Folder one consists of personal and professional correspondence written primarily between 1921 and 1923, and is arranged chronologically.


  • Creation: 1921-1938


Conditions Governing Access

Noncirculating; available for research

Conditions Governing Use

This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical / Historical

Oliver V. Austin was a Jones County, Mississippi native, born on September 25, 1890. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) in 1911, and completed his Masters Degree at Ole Miss in 1912. In 1920, he attended a summer session for football coaches at the University of Illinois, and in 1929-30, he worked towards his doctorate in science at the University of Chicago.

Austin's work in the public school systems includes time spent at Jones County Agricultural High School (1914-15) where he taught science and directed athletics. He also served as principal and athletic director in Greenwood Mississippi (1916-17). During WWI, Austin served in the U.S. Army as an instructor in Elementary Physics and Electricity at the Artillery Officers Training School at Camp Taylor, Kentucky (1917).

In 1921, Austin came to Mississippi Normal College (now the University of Southern Mississippi) as Assistant Science Instructor, and Director of Athletics. As head coach, O.V. "Spout" Austin took charge of football, basketball and baseball. Undaunted by scheduling difficulties and the discouraging lack of support offered by the local community, he arranged games with other colleges that were designed to evoke public interest and involvement. In 1922, Mr. Austin replaced R.J. Slay as Head of the Science Department, and in 1924, he relinquished his athletic responsibilities. In 1943, O.V. Austin was named Head of the Physical Science and Mathematics Division, and remained so until his retirement due to ill health in 1955. Austin was also president of the Mississippi Academy of Science.

O.V. Austin wed Ruth Sharbrough in 1922, who gave birth to two children, O.V. Austin, Jr. who died at age two in 1925 and Ruthlyn Austin. Austin's wife died in 1943, and he remained a widower until his own death on May 22, 1960. Mr. Austin, his wife, and son are interred in Ellisville Cemetery, Ellisville, Mississippi.


0.10 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



Letters, photographs, and other materials reflecting his personal life as well as his association with Mississippi Normal College.


The personal correspondence in folder one includes a short note from O.V. Austin to his future wife, then Ruth Sharbrough; letters concerning the health of his wife, Ruth, and their newborn son, O.V. Austin Jr. A letter to Ruth Austin from her aunt at Battle Creek Sanitarium offers advice concerning the nursing of the infant and urges Ruth to get medical attention if the current situation does not improve. The final personal correspondence is written on Wiggins Methodist Episcopal Church stationary. In the letter, Pastor M.B. Sharbrough writes Mr. Austin concerning the medical condition of his wife, Ruth, who is at this point, improving under the pastor's care (possibly a relative). There is also mention of the baby's nutrition, as affected by his mother's illness.

The three typed professional correspondences in folder one document the process of scheduling athletic events, one aspect of O.V. Austin's activities as Director of Athletics (Research indicates that scheduling was a rather difficult task, and the Mississippi Normal College often had to play against local high school teams). Austin's correspondence shows his efforts to schedule athletic events with other colleges, which helped solicit community support. A telegram (Nov. 11, 1923) records an offer from C.J. McNaspy of Lafayette, Louisiana concerning a possible monetary transaction in relation to a game against Lafayette. The second professional correspondence (Dec. 6, 1923) is typed on Louisiana College Department of Athletic letterhead, from H.E. Waldon who is responding affirmatively to an offer made by Austin concerning the scheduling of a football game for the following season. The third professional correspondence is typed on Spring Hill College, Alabama Department of Athletics letterhead (Dec. 8, 1923), from William S. Harty, who is attempting to schedule basketball games with Mississippi Normal College for the following season.

Folder two contains miscellaneous material such as a memo mentioning several commercial businesses such as Fine Brothers, Walker-Clower Drug Co., and A.E. Shoemaker. Also included is a Mississippi Normal College letterhead which lists the college faculty (including O.V. Austin), and a Surplus U.S. Army Goods & General Merchandise wholesale mail-order catalog (Oct. 25, 1923).

Folder three contains 16 photographs (M309-1 through M309-16). Two photos are of the Third Army Mobile Field Station in Forrest County (1938), and the remaining 14 comprise a photographic tour of the USS Constitution after its restoration (circa 1931-1934).

This collection should aid any researcher interested in the history of USM, the history of USM intercollegiate activities, or photographs of the restoration of the USS Constitution.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from the Mississippiana Verticle File, on August 15, 1988.

Existence and Location of Copies

For Digitized Materials from this collection, see: External Documents link at bottom of page.

Related Materials

RG 2 USM Photograph Collection

RG 32 University Union and Student Activities

RG 42 Intercollegiate Athletics

Photograph Log

M309-1 Third Army Mobile Field 3 x 4, Albumen, 1938 Solider is writing letters in front of the Postal Station of the Ashe Nursery Concentration Area Third Army Maneuvers, DeSoto National Forest, MS.

M309-2 Third Army Mobile Field Station 3 x 4, Albumen, 1938 Two soldiers outside of the Postal Station of the Ashe Nursery Concentration Area Third Army-30 Division known as the “Blue Forces” Forrest, MS.

M309-3 Deck of USS Constitution 3 x 5, Albumen, 1931 A man is observing the equipment on deck of the USS Constitution after it’s Restoration from 1929-1931 Boston Navy Yard, Mass.

M309-4 Mast of USS Constitution 3 x 5, Albumen, 1931 Masts of the Constitution around 1934 Boston, Mass.

M309-5 USS Constitution at Boston Navy Yard 3 x 5, Albumen, 1931-1934 View of the stern of the USS Constitution docked at the Boston Navy Yard after restoration was competed in 1931. Several Sailors can be seen. (Picture taken before 1934)

M309-6 Below Deck ofUSS Constitution 3 x 5, Albumen, 1931 This photo was taken below deck of the USS Constitution around 1934. The area photographed appears to be an antechamber. Flintlock Musket (1812-1860) and swords are on display outside of a room containing furniture and a lantern.

M309-7 On Deck of USS Constitution 3 x 5, Albumen, 1931 A family is observing the newly restored USS Constitution. A little boy is climbing a ladder that leads below deck.

M309-8 Cannons of the USS Constitution 3 x 5, Albumen, 1931 This side view of the USS Constitution reveals 7 cannons. Two dingys are showing. Also, there appears to be a man (or a statue of a man) directly underneath the side dingy.

M309-9 Bow of the USS Constitution 3 x 5, Albumen, 1931 This photograph of the right-hand side of the bow of the USS Constitution reveals 6 cannons.

M309-10 Stern of the USS Constitution 3 x 5, Albumen, 1931 This photograph of the stern of the USS Constitution reveals two dingys, the masts, all of the cannons and people walking aboard the plank to tour the newly restored ship, “OLD IRONSIDES”.

M309-11 Tourist on Deck of the USS Constitution 3 x 5, Albumen, 1931 A man is observing a nautical instrument on deck of the newly restored USS Constitution completed in 1931.

M309-12 Donor Commemoration-USS Constitution 3 x 5, Albumen, 1931 This photo was taken below the deck of the USS Constitution (A.K.A. “OLD IRONSIDES”) Swords and Flint lock muskets, containers and drum are displayed. A framed commemoration listing the donors of materials used in the reconstruction to the ship is hanging; among those listed is Sowers Lumber Company of Hattiesburg (not visible in photo).

M309-13 Deck Cannons-USS Constitution 3 x 5, Albumen, 1931 Seen are 2 cannons on deck of the USS Constitution (“OLD IRONSIDES”). Also seen is a dingy attached to the outside of the ship. There is a partial image of a woman tourist.

M309-14 The USS Constitution 3 x 5, Albumen, 1931 The photograph reveals 9 cannons, the masts, a dingy and tourists aboard the USS Constitution docked at Boston Navy Yard.

M309-15 Billet Head/ Cannon: USS Constitution 3 x 5, Albumen, 1931 This below deck photo includes a cannon propped on a staircase, chains, ropes and a Billet Head plaque honoring the USS Constitution in the war of 1812.
O.V. Austin Papers
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Repository Details

Part of the Historical Manuscripts and Photographs Repository

118 College Drive - 5148
Hattiesburg MS 39406-0001