Jay Higginbotham is a prize-winning
author and founder of the Mobile Municipal Archives. Born July 16,
1937, he grew up in Mobile and Pascagoula. Descended from one of
the Deep Souths most illustrious families, one which includes
the Ambassador Pierre Soulé and the French impressionist
Edgar Degas, he is a descendant on both his fathers and mothers
side of the founders of Mobile in 1702. After graduating from Ole
Miss in 1960, Higginbotham attended the City College of New York
and the American University in Washington, DC. Serving briefly as
Assistant Clerk of the Mississippi House of Representatives, he
taught for several years in the Mobile Public Schools, dividing
his time between teaching, traveling and writing. In 1973, he became
head of the Local History Department of the Mobile Public Library.
Several years later, he organized the Mobile Municipal Archives
and became its first director..
In the 1960s he traveled through
forty-two countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America. After
a trip around the world in 1966, during which he climbed Mt. Fuji
in Japan, crossed Asia on the Trans-Siberian Railway, scaled Mt.
Olympus, and swam the Nile River, he began his writing career, the
result of which has been seventeen books and numerous articles in
newspapers, magazines and journals. He has received five literary
awards, including the Gilbert Chinard Prize, the L. Kemper Williams
Prize, and the Alabama Library Association Award.
His Old Mobile (1977) became a classic
in Southern history, receiving praise in a number of scholarly journals,
including the Journal of American History, the American
Historical Review, Revue Historique (Paris), the Geographical
Journal (London) and the Revista de Historia Militar (Madrid).
His Fast Train Russia was first published in the USSR in
1981, and the American edition (Dodd, Mead, 1983) was enthusiastically
received in such publications as The New Yorker, the Christian
Science Monitor, Kirkus Reviews and the Library Journal.
Other of his works poems, speeches,
essays and articles have been translated into 27 languages,
including Arabic, Japanese and Chinese, and have been sold and distributed
in 128 countries.
Shortly after the American publication
of Fast Train Russia in 1983, Higginbotham joined the international
peace movement and returned to Russia. After meeting with Giorgi
Arbatov, Premier Chernenkos chief advisor, and speaking on
Radio Moscow and Soviet national television, he donated blood on
Sputnik Day and made a widely circulated statement for peace in
a public ceremony broadcast worldwide.
The following year Higginbotham returned
to Russia as a guest of Progress Publishers (which subsequently
published two of his books) and made 37 speeches advocating reconciliation
in a whirlwind tour across Russia from Vladivostok to Brest. His
Fourth Of July speech in Khabarovsk America Enlightening
the World was broadcast throughout Russia and the Far
East and his Letter To President Reagan was published
in Moscow News and numerous international publications.
On his 1984 trip to Russia, Higginbotham
met and became friends with Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko. Yevtushenko
later visited Higginbotham several times in Mobile, and together
they appeared in concert in numerous Southern cities.
Before leaving Russia in 1986, Higginbotham
spoke to the City Council of Rostov, out of which came a remarkable
but controversial sister-city relationship between Mobile and the
Black Sea port.
In June 1993, Higginbotham traveled to
Havana and met with Mayor Pedro Chávez and other city officials.
Returning to Mobile, he organized and became president of the Society
Mobile-La Habana, after which Mobile and Havana became the first
sister city between municipalities in Cuba and the United States.
Later, he addressed the Cuban mission at the United Nations in New
York, as well as the U.S. Congress, spoke on radio Havana and addressed
the VI Ibero-American Solidarity Convention in Havana.
In addition to his writings and efforts
in behalf of world peace, Higginbotham has been active in Mobiles
community affairs, having worked extensively with the Red Cross
and having served as chairman of numerous boards and commissions,
including the Old Mobile Project, Friends of Freedom, the Mobile
Assembly of Sages and Savants, the Old Shell Road PTA, and the Mobile
Tricentennial, Inc., of which he was founder and first president.
In 1995, he addressed the World Future Society in Atlanta on the
subject of Reshaping the Olympics, after which he was
interviewed on CBS. He has appeared on NBCs Today Show
and Real Life programs as well as on radio and TV programs
in Canada, Cuba, Argentina, and throughout Europe and Asia.
In 1991, he was awarded the Mobile Scroll
of Merit Award. He has written for the Encyclopedia Britannica,
for Funk & Wagnalls and is listed in Contemporary
Authors, Outstanding Young Men in America, Whos Who in America,
International Authors and Writers Whos Who, and the Dictionary
of International Biography.
posted February 2002)
Links & Info
is Mauvila, discusses some of the possible locations of
the battle of Mauvila, which took place on Oct. 18, 1540, between
Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto and Indian chief Tascalusa. Higginbothams
book Mauvila is the first complete book on the battle,
described by some historians as the most decisive conflict in North
- Brother Holyfield. New York: Thomas-Hull, 1972.
- The Mobile Indians. Mobile, Ala.: Colonial Books,
- Family Biographies: Brief Portraits of Some Ancestors and
Members of the Higginbotham Family of Pascagoula. Mobile,
Ala.: Colonial Books, 1967.
- The Pascagoula Indians. Mobile, Ala.: Colonial
- Pascagoula: Singing River City. Mobile, Ala.: Gill
- Mobile: City by the Bay. By Jay Higginboth. Edited
by Cathy Patrick. Mobile, Ala.: Azalea City Printers, 1968.
- The Journal of Sauvole: Historical Journal of the Establishment
of the French in Louisiana. By M. de Sauvole; translated
and edited by Jay Higginbotham. Mobile, Ala.: Colonial Books, 1969.
- Fort Maurepas: The Birth of Louisiana. Mobile,
Ala.: Colonial Books, 1969.
- A Voyage to Dauphin Island in 1720: The Journal of Bertet
de la Clue. Translated by Jay Higginbotham. Mobile, Ala.:
Museum of the City of Mobile, 1974.
- Old Mobile: Fort Louis de la Louisiane, 1702-1711.
Mobile, Ala.: Museum of the City of Mobile, 1977.
- Fast Train Russia. 1981. New York: Dodd, Mead,
- Autumn in Petrishchevo. Moscow: Progress, 1987.
- Discovering Russia: People and Places. Moscow:
- Man, Nature and the Infinite: Random Thoughts and Impressions
from the Journals, Interviews, Letters, Speeches, and Notebooks
of Jay Higginbotham, 1961-1997. Mobile, Ala.: Lighthouse
- Mauvila. Mobile, Ala.: A. B. Bahr/Factor, 2000.
- Articles and Interviews:
- Internet Resources
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