‘Miss Sallie’ Boone won admiration, affection of all | Mercer Legends

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Sallie Boone is seen with a group of female students in front of what is now Hardman Hall.
Sallie Boone is seen with a group of female students in front of what is now Hardman Hall. She is in the second row, fourth from left. Photos from Mercer Library Archives

Longtime Mercer University librarian ‘Miss Sallie’ Boone was beloved and admired by all who knew her. Known for her cheery disposition, warm personality and charm, she held a special place in the hearts of generations of Mercerians. Here’s how she became a Mercer Legend. 

Sallie Boone

Mercer connection: Longtime University librarian and literature professor on the Macon campus.

Years at Mercer: Librarian and literature professor from 1904-34 and librarian emeritus until her death in 1951.

What she did: Sallie Boone was born in 1868 and graduated from Wesleyan College in 1887. She was a librarian at Macon’s newly established free public library, Price Memorial, before taking the librarian job at Mercer in 1904. A few years later, she saw the University’s library relocate from a small room in the back of what is now Willingham Chapel to a new library building, now called Hardman Hall. She witnessed the building undergo many changes, although it wasn’t until after her retirement that it was renovated, furnished and stocked as it was intended.

Boone also taught literature courses and was the co-ed counselor of the University’s first women’s dormitory, Mary Erin Porter Hall. She received an honorary Master of Arts degree in 1927 and became the University’s first librarian emeritus when she retired in 1934. A member of Phi Mu while a Wesleyan student, she helped to establish Mercer’s Alpha Iota chapter of the sorority in 1938. 

Even after her retirement, she stayed connected with Mercer and regularly attended University events to welcome new students, guests and visitors. Dr. Spright Dowell, Mercer president at the time, was among the honorary pallbearers for her funeral in 1951. 

Why she is a legend: Boone was a well-known and influential figure on the Macon campus and affectionately known as “Miss Sallie” by generations of Mercerians. An embodiment of the Mercer spirit, she was called “Mercer’s greatest institution” in a 1921 issue of The Cluster and “one of the most interesting and beloved personalities on campus” in the 1930 Mercer yearbook. Boone had a love for words and a talent for expressing and sharing them. She was quoted often in The Cluster, and the Mercer community enjoyed reading her insights in her contributions to The Cauldron, The Telegraph and The Mercerian.

She was a confidant to students and a cheerful spirit who brightened the days of those she encountered, especially with her distinctive “hello” greeting. A portrait of Boone painted by Mercer alumnus Edward Shorter was displayed in Hardman Library for many years and hangs in Tarver Library in her memory today. 

Quotable: “‘Miss Sallie’ wore the title ‘campus sweetheart’ for a quarter of a century, modestly and deservedly, and her radiant personality, her lovely spirit, her irresistible charm and her never-to-be-forgotten ‘hello’ combined to win the admiration and affection of faculty, students, alumni and friends to the last individual who knew her.” — Dr. Spright Dowell, University president from 1928-1953, wrote in the 1951 Mercerian

A painting of Sallie Boone
A portrait of Sallie Boone painted by Mercer alumnus Edward Shorter.

Mercer Legends is a series that highlights iconic figures who left a lasting impact on the University and its faculty, staff and students, as well as the community.

 

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