Collection Title: The Jerry Dallas Delta Cooperative Farm Collection

Manuscript No.: M209

Inclusive Dates: 1936-1987

Bulk Dates: 1936 – 1987

Volume: .45 cu. Ft.

Biographical/Historical Sketch:
Dr. Jerry Dallas, a professor of History at Delta State University, donated this collection to the
Delta State Archives. The documents contained in this collection pertain to the establishment of
the Delta Cooperative Farm in 1936.

The organization of the Delta Cooperative Farm was an attempt to provide a haven for the
abused sharecroppers of Northeastern Arkansas who were being persecuted for their
involvement with the Southern Tenant Farmers Union. The Southern Tenant Farmers Union
was created in 1934 to promote a more organized form of agriculture. The union was an
interracial group concerned with the rights of the black and white underclass in Northeast
Arkansas. The nation’s plantation system during this time had created a group of impoverished
and underprivileged people. The union’s goal at the time was to eradicate the social
“underclass” so that all the farmers could benefit from the system. The sharecroppers who
were a part of the union were eventually evicted. Some individuals that were suspected of
having connections with the union were even murdered.

In 1936, Sherwood Eddy launched the Delta cooperative Farm in response to the chaos that
was going on in Arkansas. The farm was located near Hillhouse in Bolivar County, Mississippi.
Eddy’s goal was to apply “Christian ethics to the struggle against social injustices.” The farm
blossomed during the early months of its existence. Approximately 19 black families and 12
white families resided on the farm when it opened in 1936. Vegetation on the farm was also
very abundant during this time. A clinic was soon built on the farm to provide the families with
medical attention. The success of the farm would soon come to an end. The “white power
structure” was a continuous obstacle for the Delta farmers. Weather conditions were also
unfavorable towards the end of the first year. In 1937, the Great Flood delayed cotton planting.
In addition, the price of cotton dropped from $.12 to $.07 in 1937. The year ended in a huge
deficit. Twenty years later, the remaining two staff members of the farm, Gene Cox and Dr.
Minter, were asked to leave the state because they were accused of promoting racial
integration. This marked the end of cooperative farming.

Scope and Content:
This collection contains many sources that Dr. Dallas used for his research on cooperative
farming in the Delta. There is a book entitled, Roll the Union on: A Pictorial History of the
Southern Tenant Farmers Union, a booklet pertaining to the early years of the Delta
Cooperative Farm, and a guestbook of the Delta Cooperative Farm from 1936-1942 included in
this collection. There is also a copy of the Delta Co OP Call Newsletter and a draft of Dr. Dallas’s
article on cooperative farming in the Delta for the Mississippi Quarterly in 1987. In addition,
there are some miscellaneous notes on cooperative farming and some correspondence
included as well. There are also notes from Dr. Dallas’s interview with Mr. and Mrs. Gene Cox.

Box Inventory:
Roll the Union on: A Pictorial History of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union. This book is about
the events leading to the formation of the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union.
“Early Years of the Delta Cooperative Farm and the Providence Farm.” This booklet is about the
establishment of the Delta Cooperative Farm. It lists some of the key individuals that worked on
the farm at that time and some of their significant contributions to cooperative farming.

Folder 1: Meeting Minutes, Articles, & Misc. Correspondence

Folder 2: Articles and Correspondence concerning founding of the Delta Cooperative Farm

Folder 3: Guest book

Folder 4: Delta CO-OP Call Newsletter and other Misc. publications concerning the Delta
Cooperative Farm

Folder 5: Dr. Dallas’s Research and Mississippi Quarterly article