Eugene P. Watson
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|Eugene Payne Watson|
June 29, 1911|
|Died||February 29, 1964(aged 52)|
|Resting place||Catholic Cemetery in Natchitoches|
|Alma mater||Columbia University|
Professor at Northwestern State University
|Parent(s)||Arthur William and Marie Eugenie Chopin Watson|
Eugene Payne Watson (June 29, 1911 – February 29, 1964) was from 1940 until his death the head librarian and professor of library science at Northwestern State University in his native Natchitoches, Louisiana. He fought to gain greater academic recognition of librarians. In 1950, Watson founded Alpha Beta Alpha, the first coeducational undergraduate library science fraternity in the United States. The fraternity held its first biennial convention on the NSU campus in 1952. At the time of Watson's death, the fraternity had twenty-nine chapters nationally.
Watson was born to Arthur William Watson (1877-1932) and the former Marie Eugenie Chopin (1879-1917). He had an older brother Arthur Chopin Watson, a Natchitoches attorney, philanthropist, state representative, and from 1968 to 1976 the chairman of the Louisiana Democratic State Central Committee. Like his brother, Watson was educated at the Roman Catholic St. Mary's Academy and St. Mary's High School in Natchitoches. He then received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1933 from Northwestern (then the Louisiana State Normal College), his Master of Arts degree in 1934 from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, and his master of library science degree in 1937 from LSU. He received the Ph.D. in 1951 from the University of Texas at Austin. From 1959 to 1960, he completed advanced studies at Columbia University in New York City. He never married.
Watson joined the NSU faculty as an English instructor in 1934 and became the assistant librarian from 1937 to 1940. He was promoted to head librarian in 1940, a post that he held for the remainder of his life. His articles on education and literary subjects were published in professional magazines, as book reviews, and as editorials. He established the "Louisiana Room" at the then Russell Library on the NSU campus. He was a member of the American Library Association, the Modern Language Association, the Bibliographical Society of America, the Louisiana Historical Association, the Louisiana Chess Association, Delta Kappa Epsilon, Beta Phi Mu, Phi Kappa Rho, and Kappa Delta Pi. He was a member of the Catholic Knights of Columbus men's organization. He was also active in Rotary International, Chamber of Commerce, the United Fund, American Red Cross, and the Restoration of Colonial Natchitoches, Inc., an historical preservationist group.
Watson is interred at the Catholic Cemetery in Natchitoches. A national library science scholarship is named in his honor. After Watson's death at the age of fifty-two, the Russell Library at NSU was renamed the Eugene P. Watson Memorial Library.
- "Eugene Payne Watson", A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography Vol. 2 (1988), p. 828
- Who's Who in America, XXXIII
- Alpha Journal V (1963-1964)
- Louisiana History V (1964)
- Watson obituary, Northwestern State College Current Sauce, March 6, 1964