Special Collections and Archives, part of the Missouri State University Libraries, is excited to announce the addition of a new finding aid available online. The Fern Nance Shumate and Nancy Shumate Collection documents the lives of several Ozarks women.
The majority of the collection concerns the Shumate women, mother and daughter. It also highlights the literary works of Mary Huff Nance (mother of Fern) and Dr. Louise A. Jackson (friend of Nancy Shumate). Dr. Jackson also shared her life story in an oral history interview conducted in 2020, shared her knowledge of the Shumate family, and donated copies of her books to the Archives.
Fern Nance Shumate is known as one of the first female journalists in Missouri in the 1920s, writing for the Springfield Press until it merged with the Springfield News Leader. While writing for the paper, she interviewed Amelia Earhart, Will Rogers, and Jack Dempsey. She began to write freelance pieces for the Kansas City Star and the St. Louis Post Dispatch, but also wrote under pseudonyms Nancy Nance, Nancy Clemens, and the masculine name Anthony Gish.
Shumate later met Vance Randolph in Galena, Missouri, and the two became friends. Randolph always referred to her as Nancy and introduced Shumate to publishers and other writers. He encouraged Shumate to write novels, resulting in two novels written under Shumate’s pseudonym Nancy Clemens, along with another publication written in collaboration with Randolph. The two also collaborated on many published academic articles. Articles in The Ozarks Mountaineer on her recollections of Randolph began a second writing career for Shumate after his death in 1978.
In 1938, Fern joined the family business and became a floral designer at the Nance Greenhouse. She married Roland Shumate in 1947 (Randolph was a witness), and the couple had one daughter named Nancy. Nancy graduated from Southwest Missouri State in 1972 and worked for the Missouri Department of Social Services for 34 years.
It is because of Nancy’s friendship with author Dr. Louise Jackson that we have this collection that documents not only Fern, but also Nancy and the whole Shumate family. After Nancy’s death, Dr. Jackson donated photographs, copies of the novels, Fern’s writings and her mother’s writings, family documents, and oral histories with Fern (conducted by Gordon McCann) to the Archives. The most recent addition of materials to the collection includes copies of Nancy Nance’s articles written for the Leader and Press in 1931-1933.
Please contact Special Collections and Archives at Archives@missouristate.edu with questions about the collection.