Archives Museums & Historic Sites

A Raven for Eudora

Jarrett Zeman, MDAH Museum Division cataloger, brings us this post in an ongoing series about his work on the IMLS project to catalog, photograph, and create digital object records for MDAH’s Museum Division artifacts.

What do Eudora Welty, Alfred Hitchcock, and the Muppets all have in common?  They all received the Raven Award from the Mystery Writers of America (MWA). Resembling the titular bird from Edgar Allen Poe’s famous work, the prize honors “outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of [literature]” and recognizes everything from TV shows and Broadway musicals, to museums and mystery bookstores. In 1985, Welty won the Raven Award for Reader of the Year.



In 1985, Welty won the Raven Award for Reader of the Year. Welty’s desk in the boy’s bedroom displays a small sample of her mystery collection, by authors as diverse as Agatha Christie, Margaret Thurman, and Ross Macdonald. Welty spoke frequently of her passion for whodunits, and this caught the attention of the MWA.


Of the numerous honors Welty won in the course of her career, the Raven Award was one of the few she displayed inside her home. Indeed, Welty kept her most prestigious award, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, inside a cardboard box in the closet. Other major honors such as the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National Medal of Arts, and the American Book Award also remained unseen by Welty’s many house guests. Welty chose to symbolize her career not with fancy diplomas or shiny medallions, but with a six-inch porcelain bird.