In the early 20th century, Cammie Henry emerged as a visionary woman, transforming her Melrose Plantation in Louisiana into a sanctuary for renowned Southern writers and artists. She captured the essence of her era in hundreds of meticulously crafted scrapbooks.
cammie henry’s legacy from melrose
Henry owned and managed the historic Melrose Plantation in central Louisiana. Throughout her tenure, she pursued her passion for scrapbooking. Donna Baker, the library archivist at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, provides a glimpse into this world: “We’re starting in the late 1880s and going to 1948”. Baker leads the Cammie G. Henry Research Center which houses 256 of Henry’s scrapbooks. These collections have been painstakingly preserved and digitized, allowing a broader audience to appreciate Henry’s work.
Henry’s scrapbooks are nothing less than a time capsule, reflecting the interests of a privileged Southern woman who had a deep appreciation for nature, the arts, and literature. When asked about the intriguing aspects of these century-old scrapbooks, Baker responded, “That humans are humans no matter what time or what place. They care about what they love. They care about their families. They talk about issues of taxes and cost and what’s going on with their neighbors.”
cammie henry collection featured on tv
encouraging the arts at melrose
Melrose Plantation, under Cammie Henry’s stewardship, became an artist retreat, attracting notable Southern writers such as Lyle Saxon and William Faulkner. But, Henry wasn’t a mere hostess. Baker says, “You were not to sit on your laurels and just enjoy her hospitality. She really was trying to push and to coach you to be the best artist you could be.” Henry’s memories of these artists and their creative blossoming at Melrose are now preserved in the university archives.
the legacy of cammie henry
Cammie Henry was committed to nurturing creativity. “She had the leisure, she had the resources, and she had the gumption to follow those interests,” said Baker. Today, researchers can immerse themselves in Henry’s world at the university library, exploring her interest in Southern literature and art that flourished at the peaceful and supportive retreat at Melrose.
viewing the collection
You can view the collections at the Cammie G. Henry Research Center, housed in the Eugene P. Watson Memorial Library on the campus of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, LA. Call the research center for an appointment: 318-357-4585. The library is located at 913 University Pkwy, Natchitoches, LA.