Preserving the Gaines Legacy

The Ernest J. Gaines Centers offers scholars valuable archival resources to conduct their research, as well as educational tools that provide historical resources about Gaines. We are dedicated to creating a digital archive that will allow research of Gaines' work possible from around the globe. 

The Legacy of Ernest J. Gaines

The Center is dedicated to organizing events and programming that support the work and legacy of Ernest J. Gaines; fostering creative writing through community partnerships, hosting colloquia, seminars, and conferences, and sponsoring the Ernest J. Gaines Speakers and Readers Series.

Ernest J. Gaines Center

“Things change through action. By no other way.” - Dr. Ernest J. Gaines

In 1933 Dr. Ernest J. Gaines was born into a country that did not value him or his family. It was an environment where Black people and other people of color did not have a voice, did not have rights and were terrorized with impunity. There was no system of justice that represented or supported them. Today, in 2020 we are still witnessing Black communities, other communities of color, and LBGTQIA+ communities being brutalized with impunity by those who are sworn to protect them. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade are just a few of the most recent victims of police brutality and systemic racism. In 2020 we are still having conversations, demonstrations, and demanding a seat at the table to simply participate in developing policies that affect our communities the most. The Ernest J. Gaines Center stands in solidarity with every community and organization that continues to peacefully protest police brutality. We echo the feelings and statements of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and President Joseph E. Savoie. We are proud of the students at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette for using their voices, their platforms, and stepping up to become the agents of change the world needs. We see you, we applaud you and we encourage you to continue to use your talents in such positive and transformative ways.

Continue doing the work to make this world a more inclusive and just place. We stand with you.

Cheylon Woods

Head and Archivist of the Ernest J. Gaines Center

Ernest J. Gaines Center

The Ernest J. Gaines Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is an international center for scholarship on Ernest Gaines and his work. The Center honors the work of UL Lafayette’s Writer-in-Residence Emeritus and provides a space for scholars and students to work with the Gaines papers and manuscripts. Born in 1933 on a plantation near New Roads, Louisiana, Gaines based his award-winning novels on the African American experience in the rural South. His works include The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1971) and A Lesson Before Dying (1993), both later produced as award-winning films. Gaines’s generous donation of his early papers and manuscripts (through 1983) and some artifacts to Edith Garland Dupré Library provided the foundation for the Center’s collection. The Center also anticipates acquiring the remainder of Gaines’s papers.

Along with the Gaines papers and published scholarship, the Ernest J. Gaines Center can also anticipate the donation of extensive papers, manuscripts, and tape-recorded interviews of Gaines scholars. The Center will expand the collection on Gaines to include all books, journal articles, essays, interviews, theses, and dissertations on Gaines and his work. In addition, it will include a complete collection of all the published translations of Gaines’s writings.