Living at ARCHIVE is like being part of history. As new traditions are created, it’s important to understand the past traditions that define the place you call home. This is what every Oxonian needs to know. A crash course in “Oxology,” as defined by the accredited “lifestyle archivists” of ARCHIVE.
The people who’ve called Oxford home have had a profound influence on both the city and the world. These are just a few of the people you need to know.
Nobel Prize Recipient. Pulitzer Winner. Oxford Legend.
“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” The memory of William Faulkner is a palpable part of Oxford’s history. Best known for his esteemed novels, “As I Lay Dying” and “The Sound and the Fury,” legendary Southern author William Faulkner called Oxford his home for more than four decades. His beautiful Rowan Oak estate still stands as an architectural reminder of his impact on Oxford, the South, and the world. It’s visited year round by tourists, writers, and historians seeking inspiration from one of the most admired and celebrated authors who ever lived.
Ole Miss students know the name Sarah Isom, but few know her impact on Oxford. Born in 1854, she was the daughter of one of Oxford’s “founding fathers,” Dr. Thomas Dudley Isom. She had a profound gift for theater and oratory, so she left Oxford to perfect her craft at the finest universities in the East. When she came back to Oxford, change was brewing. After female students were finally admitted to the university in 1882, it was only a matter of time before the first female faculty member would join the fold. Sarah Isom filled the role. She taught oratory for more than twenty years, training great minds to become great communicators. Her pioneering legacy and her impact on Oxford is still felt today, more than 100 years after her death.
Mississippi native Jennifer Gillom is one of the most celebrated female basketball players in history, helping the United States win gold at the 1988 Summer Olympics. While at Ole Miss from 1983-1987, she led the Rebels to four NCAA Tournaments and is ranked second all-time on the Ole Miss scoring list. She was recently inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame for her incredible career in the WNBA. Today her coaching is legendary and is equally as acclaimed as her playing years. She will forever be regarded as one of the university’s greatest athletes.
The ultimate football player, football coach, and Oxford legend, John Howard Vaught coached the Ole Miss football team for twenty-five years—a time period where he led the Rebels to six Southeastern Conference Championships and 18 bowl games—five of which were Sugar Bowl victories. Few in the history of college football have reached his level of prominence and achievement. 190 total career wins—by far the most wins in school history. In 1979, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, and in 1982 he was honored for his lifetime of achievement with his name added to Hemingway Stadium, now known nationwide as Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Archie and Eli Manning
The Mannings are synonymous with football. Their influential legacy is a rich, two-part chapter of Ole Miss history, beginning with Mississippi native Archie Manning. He was starting quarterback for the Rebels for three incredible years, starting in 1968. Named Southeastern Quarterback of the Quarter Century and inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, Archie is a living legend. His NFL career was equally as decorated. His son, Eli also quarterbacked for the Rebels from 2000 to 2003, setting records and winning awards. He’s won two Super Bowls for the New York Giants and is equally admired as his father Archie and brother, former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning.
Roy Lee “Chucky” Mullins was part of the Rebels football team from 1988-1989. After a devastating field injury during the 1989 Homecoming game against Vanderbilt, Chucky Mullins was left paralyzed for the rest of his life. Ole Miss fans—and fans throughout the nation—showed their love and admiration for Chucky throughout an outpouring of support. President George H.W. Bush even visited Mullins in his hospital room. In 1990, he returned to Ole Miss to complete his undergraduate studies, but was stopped in his tracks yet again—this time by a pulmonary embolism, which took his short life. Today, his legacy lives on through the “Chucky Mullins Memorial Courage Award.”
Ole Miss has a long list of famous alumni who’ve graced its historic campus. Joseph Whitehead is one of those people—yet many don’t know much about him. He was born in Oxford in 1864 and eventually attended the University of Mississippi, where he graduated with a law degree. All quite typical, but here’s the surprising part—Whitehead went on to obtain the exclusive rights, along with Benjamin F. Thomas, to bottle and sell the now world-famous Coca Cola soft drink from Asa Griggs Candler.
Eight years following the landmark 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education declaring that racial segregation in educational facilities violated the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, James Meredith’s arrival at the University of Mississippi set off a firestorm of racism and disruption in Oxford. Riots, stand-ins, and marches broke out on campus with hundreds wounded and many others arrested. Even the National Guard was dispatched to diminish the chaos. After intervention from the federal government, Meredith became the first African American student admitted to the University of Mississippi. As a youth, he attended Mississippi public schools, was born and raised in the state, and served nine years in the U.S. Air Force—yet he was repeatedly denied acceptance to the university. Later in life, he became an important figure in the Civil Rights Movement, as well as a writer and political advisor. A statue on campus commemorates the 40th anniversary of his admission to the university.
ARCHIVE is surrounded by some of Oxford’s most colorful and cultural destinations. But don’t call yourself a local until you know them all by heart.
The definitive American public research university, there’s no place like the University of Mississippi. It’s the state’s flagship and largest university, but its size doesn’t keep it from being regarded as one of the most charming and appealing universities in the SEC.
Founded in 1844, Ole Miss has seen many of the most tumultuous times in history, and it faces the future with a promise of innovation and inclusion. The campus, located in historic Oxford, Mississippi, is currently home to more than 24,000 students and is ranked as one of the nation’s fastest growing institutions.
The Grove & Walk of Champions
There’s no place like home—and no place like The Grove. These ten acres are packed with some of the most incredible tailgating stories in college football. The sights and sounds found in The Grove on game day establish its reputation as “the holy grail” of tailgating spots. No wonder Sports Illustrated named Ole Miss as the “Number 1 Tailgating School” in America.
The near forty-year tradition of Rebel football players traversing through The Grove on game day is a sight to behold. It’s a must for any Ole Miss student and one that never gets dull for alumni. In 1998, the Walk of Champions arch was placed in The Grove. It’s where players begin their epic march under the shaded walkways of the mighty oak trees that line this remarkable site.
Vaught Hemingway Stadium
Home to the Rebel football team, Vaught Hemingway Stadium is the largest stadium in Mississippi and a landmark of Ole Miss tradition. Named after the legendary coach Johnny Vaught and law professor Judge William Hemingway, the stadium began its historic timeline in 1915 with a capacity of 24,000. Today, after numerous renovations and additions through the decades, it’s regarded as one of the most innovative and loved stadiums in the country, with a total capacity of 64,038.
Known as the centerpiece of the city, Oxford Square is home to unique shopping, dining, festivals, live music, art galleries, and nightlife. It’s also the historic heart of Oxford, boasting one of the oldest department stores in the Southeast—Neilson’s, which opened in 1839. The Oxford Courthouse, built in 1872, sits in the middle of the Square (the original was destroyed during the Civil War). It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and played a significant role in William Faulkner’s fictional version of Oxford named “Jefferson in Yoknapatawpha County” in many of his most famous stories.
Located in the Square, the Lyric Theater is an icon of Oxford music culture, with a storied past of varying roles through the decades, all starting in the late 1800s. The structure was originally a livery stable owned by William Faulkner’s family. Later is was converted to a theater for live performances and silent films, which eventually led it to become the town’s first movie theater. It was abandoned in the 70s and restored in the 80s into office spaces. Thankfully in 2007, it underwent a major renovation and was restored to its former glory as a live performance venue.
Originally built in 1840, Rowan Oak is one of the South’s most visited antebellum homes. It was purchased by William Faulkner around 1930. At the time, the home was in near-complete disrepair. He restored the estate to its former glory, in addition to the twenty-nine acres of land surrounding it. Faulkner drew inspiration from the home’s rich history. It’s where he wrote the Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel A Fable. Today’s visitors can still see the outline of the story, penciled in graphite by Faulkner himself on the wall of his study.
In 1972, the home was sold by Faulkner’s daughter to the University of Mississippi. Named after a mythical tree, today’s Rowan Oak is regarded as a National Historic Landmark—a proud symbol of Oxford and the incomparable legacy that Faulkner left on the city after his death in 1962.
One of Oxford’s best kept secrets, Patricia C. Lamar Park is just a few minutes northwest of the university. Featuring walking trails, gardens, and a beautiful lake, it’s a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of campus and the city. The park was designed to be an outdoor arboretum for residents to enjoy the peace and quiet of nature and to find inspiration in the natural world around them.
It comes as no surprise that this charming literary town has its own delightful literary slang. Here are some of the words and phrases you’ll need to know
Depending on who you talk to, there’s always a different story and use of the legendary local phrase of “Hotty Toddy.” It can be used as a salutation or a greeting. A celebratory exclamation. A hashtag. And much more. It’s the second answer to “Are You Ready?” in the Ole Miss fight song lyric: “Hell Yeah! Damn Right!, Hotty Toddy, Gosh Almighty…” It was eventually traced back to a 1926 student newspaper article in The Mississippian as “Heighty! Teighty! Gosh ‘a Mighty.” The spelling has changed, but the sentiment and emotion behind it remains.
The Velvet Ditch
It’s a phrase that’s been used to describe Oxford since the 1950s. According to one Oxonian, the Velvet Ditch is an expression that means, “Oxford is easy to fall into and hard to crawl out of because it’s such a comfortable and welcoming place that anyone who comes here never wants to leave.”
It’s a reference to the way that sharks hunt their prey—a metaphor for how the Ole Miss defense moves on the field: precise, confident, stealth, ready to bite down hard and annihilate its victims! It began somewhere between 2006 and 2008, starting with player Tony Fein, who would place his hand above his head to look like a shark fin after an epic defensive play. When he passed away, the tradition continued, as a way to honor him.
An acronym that stands for “Hell Yeah Damn Right.” Pulled right from the Ole Miss fight song lyric: “Hell Yeah! Damn Right!, Hotty Toddy, Gosh Almighty…” It’s a standard local response to “Are You Ready?” which must be recited back with enthusiasm and passion. Most recently, HYDR doubles as a company name for a great local business selling goodies and gear right here in Oxford.
Lock the Vaught
It’s a reference to a new tradition of Ole Miss football fans locking arms and swaying to Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” in a demonstration of unity and intimidation of the visiting opponent. Others say it’s the moment when fans get so rowdy and loud in the stadium that they have to “Lock the Vaught” (Vaught Hemingway Stadium) to keep their opponent from running out with their tails between their legs.
Gettin’ crazy at Swayze
Named after Tom Swayze, head baseball coach at Ole Miss from 1951-1971, Swayze Field where the Ole Miss baseball team knocks it out of the park for more than 8,500 fans on game day. “Gettin’ crazy at Swayze” is going all out for our beloved Rebels—and yes that includes beer showers during home runs. The hill beyond right field is a favorite spot for students.