Winfred Harmon Moncrief was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, on December 30, 1923. After completing work on a journalism degree at Mississippi Southern College (now the University of Southern Mississippi) in 1953, he began a career as reporter and chief photographer for the Hattiesburg American. Moncrief worked for the American until 1968, during which time he covered regular, "hard" news beats, including civil rights activities in the community. He was also a stringer for the Associated Press and the commercial division of the United Press International and did some work for Time and Life magazines.
From 1968 to 1971, Moncrief served as assistant to the Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce. From 1970 to 1971 he was also Director of Publicity and instructor of journalism at Gulf Park College in Long Beach, Mississippi. Prior to this point, Moncrief had taught journalism and photography on a part-time basis at USM. From 1971 to 1992 he was Director of Public Information for Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCCC) and taught journalism and photography on a part-time basis at the Perkinston and Jefferson Davis campuses. Although Moncrief officially retired in 1992, he was retained by MGCCC to assist with special projects.
Winfred Moncrief received many accolades during his long career as a photographer. As a photo-journalist he was cited seventeen times by the Associated Press for excellence in photography and twice by the AP's National Managing Editors Association. Along with other Hattiesburg American staff he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He received fourteen awards from the College Public Relations Association for various television and radio presentations used to advertise and promote MGCCC. In 1989, he received a commendation from MGCCC's Board of Trustees "for outstanding contributions to the public information field." In 1993, he was the joint recipient of an Award of Merit from the Mississippi Historical Society for a video documentary entitled No Greater Love: Roy Wheat in Vietnam, which he produced with Charles Sullivan and Doug Mansfield. Winfred Moncrief died July 28, 2000.
The Moncrief Photograph Collection consists of 890 original black-and-white negatives produced in the course of Winfred Moncrief's career as a photographer in the 1950s and '60s. It is one of two collections donated to MDAH by Moncrief in 1994, at which time he transferred his title and copyright interests to the agency. Jim Ellis, a student photographer with whom Moncrief worked at the Hattiesburg American, retains copyright for 23 photographs in the collection attributed to him. Mr. Ellis's photographs may be viewed in the William F. Winter Archives and History Archival Reading Room but are not available in electronic format.
The photographs focus on Hattiesburg and the surrounding area, although there are pictures from other parts of the state. The photographs cover a variety of topics, including the 1953 Vicksburg tornado, Governor Paul B. Johnson Jr.'s 1963 election campaign and 1964 inauguration, nuclear tests at the Tatum Salt Dome in 1964, an October 1965 Ku Klux Klan rally, and various civil rights activities, primarily in Hattiesburg. The civil rights activities include an Aaron Henry rally in October 1963, voter registration attempts and demonstrations in January-February 1964, August 1965 voter registration activities in Prentiss, events surrounding the murder of Vernon Dahmer in January 1966 and its resulting trials, and demonstrations in April 1968 after the murder of Martin Luther King Jr.
The online collection consists of digitized positive versions of Mr. Moncrief's original black-and-white negatives made available within the MDAH Electronic Archives Graphic User Interface (ERA/GUI). The GUI provides collection-level contextual and technical information, and each image is presented with corresponding metadata and links to MDAH resources.
The negatives were not individually described by the photographers. Moncrief made a brief content annotation on the envelopes that originally housed batches of negatives prior to donating the negatives to MDAH. This note usually consisted of a subject and/or location and a date, such as "Dahmer, Vernon trial, March 8-11/68," "polio vaccine tests (Laurel) 54," or "Integration, voter - jan feb 64," and relied upon Mr. Moncrief's memory of events that occurred thirty to forty years before. This information is displayed as the "Caption" with both the thumbnail and the descriptive information for each image. Once the collection was accessioned by MDAH, the photograph curator developed a collection finding aid that combined transcriptions of the envelope content notes with brief, item-level descriptions of the visual content of each print.
Further descriptive information was added as part of processing the collection for online access. Administrative, structural, and descriptive metadata were attached to each scanned image, though not all metadata elements are displayed to the public. The administrative data consists of in-house tracking and bibliographic information. The structural data includes technical specifications for each format and system requirements. The descriptive metadata are derived primarily from the existing photograph finding aid. Library of Congress subject headings were added. When identification was possible, more detailed contextual information about buildings, people, and events was provided with links to additional MDAH resources.
The Moncrief Photograph Collection was donated to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) by Winfred H. Moncrief in the summer of 1994. A donor agreement, which specified that he transferred his title and copyright interests to MDAH, was signed on September 28, 1994. The collection consists of approximately 890 black-and-white negatives. Jim Ellis retains copyright for 23 photographs in the collection attributed to him. In April 1997, MDAH hired Jasper Ewing & Sons photographers to make 3"×5", positive photoprints of the negatives to facilitate patron access. In November 2004, the MDAH Archives and Records Services Division's Image and Sound section began scanning Moncrief's negatives, creating preservation-quality, negative TIFF images. These were then converted to web-friendly, positive JPEG images by the Electronic Archives section and made available online within the MDAH Electronic Archives Graphic User Interface. Additional photoprints were created by MDAH staff in May 2006.
- MDAH Online Catalog record for the Moncrief Photograph Collection