Trogdon Pledges $1.5 Million to University Libraries

Sep 14, 2015

Caption: William Trogdon, MU alumnus and noted author, announced a gift of $1.6 million to the University of Missouri Friday at Ellis Library.
Credit Rob Hill / Mizzou Creative

MU alumnus and New York Times best-selling author William Trogdon and his wife JoAnn have pledged $1.5 million of their estate to the University’s libraries.

The gift will contribute to the William Trogdon Libraries Fund, which supports rare books and special collections on American exploration, travel and topography and Native American studies. Trogdon also donated his personal collection of over 3,000 rare books about travel.

Trogdon is known for his 1982 travelogue, Blue Highways, which was written after receiving his PhD in English from the University of Missouri. He hopes that his donation will help future students become better scholars and writers.

“[Young writers] don’t develop ideas because they are too largely uninformed by 3,000 years of human culture,” Trogdon said. “So that’s why you come to Ellis Library. This is where you learn what’s there, among these 3 million books.”

The Trogdons will also donate $100,000 to the MU School of Health Professions in honor of William’s father, to support scholarships for physically disabled students. Trogdon says he was inspired on his undergraduate graduation night, when he helped a man in a wheelchair travel up ninth street.

“I just thought, ‘This man has a rough way to get an education. It shouldn’t be that hard, if there’s anything we can do to make his path to a degree easier,’” Trogdon said.

JoAnn Trogdon is an attorney and historian whose book, The Unknown Travels and Dubious Pursuit of William Clark, was published by the University of Missouri Press last month. The couple met while conducting research in Ellis Library.