News

Un(re)solved Opens at the Civil Rights, State History Museums morrisey Thu, 08/12/2021 - 11:10

PBS Frontline’s traveling augmented-reality exhibit Un(re)solved will open Saturday, August 28, at the Two Mississippi Museums. The opening date will align with the commemoration of the death of Emmett Till, a Chicago teenager who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955.

“Sixty-six years ago, an innocent fourteen-year-old boy was murdered, and justice never prevailed,” said Pamela D. C. Junior, director of the Two Mississippi Museums. “I think it is especially fitting that FRONTLINE’s new traveling exhibit begins its journey at the Two Mississippi Museums where we remember the people who sacrificed so much for freedom and equality.”

Drawing on more than two years of reporting, thousands of documents, and dozens of firsthand interviews, the multi-platform exhibit examines the federal government’s effort to investigate more than 150 civil rights era cold cases under the authority of the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act (Till Act).

Un(re)solved tells the stories of the people on the Till Act list—voting rights advocates, veterans, business owners, mothers, fathers, and children—and the families still seeking justice today.

Un(re)solved’s advisory council includes Jerry Mitchell, investigative reporter and founder of the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting. Mitchell’s reporting helped lead to convictions in cases such as the 1963 assassination of Mississippi NAACP leader Medgar Evers, the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, and the 1964 slayings of three civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner.

Other members of the Un(re)solved advisory council include Margaret Burnham, Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project at Northeastern University; Jelani Cobb, Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism; Rhea Combs, Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery; Leslie Fields-Cruz, Black Public Media; Hank Klibanoff, Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project at Emory University; Stanley Nelson, Firelight Media; Ron Nixon, The Associated Press; and Lisa Osborne, Black Public Media.

“We are proud to use the multiplatform, investigative journalism in Un(re)solved as a way to shine a light on these individuals and their families and their quests for justice, and to contribute to the national conversation surrounding the reckoning on racism in America,” says Raney Aronson-Rath, FRONTLINE executive producer.

The project consists of a web-based interactive experience, serialized podcast, a touring augmented-reality exhibit, as well as a documentary and companion education curriculum for high schools and universities.

The exhibit will run from Saturday, August 28, through Sunday, October 24, in the FedEx and Medgar and Myrlie Evers Exhibition Halls at the Two Mississippi Museums. Fifteen-minute tours will be available Tuesday–Friday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Ticket prices are $15 for adults and $8 for youth ages 4–22. Discounts are available for students, seniors, active duty military, veterans, and groups of ten or more. Admission for children under the age of three is free. Ticket price includes admission to the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, Museum of Mississippi History, and all special exhibitions. Admission on Sunday is also free.

Museum hours are Tuesday–Saturday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

FRONTLINE is U.S. television’s longest running investigative documentary series known for exploring the issues of the times through powerful reporting and storytelling. FRONTLINE is produced by GBH in Boston and is broadcast nationwide on PBS.

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Nissan Café by Nick Wallace Opens at State History, Civil Rights Museums morrisey Mon, 07/26/2021 - 10:08

The new Nissan Café by Nick Wallace Culinary is now open at the Two Mississippi Museums. Spearheaded by executive chef Nick Wallace, the new café offers a wide assortment of Southern and French inspired cuisine to museum visitors during breakfast and lunch hours Tuesdays through Sundays in the Nancy and Ray Neilsen Hall of History. 

“We are excited to have Nick Wallace Culinary at the Two Mississippi Museums,” said Katie Blount, MDAH director. “Chef Wallace has a commitment to healthy, fresh food that is inspired by history and flavors of the South. He also brings welcome energy, vision, and new ideas. But most importantly, he’s a great cook, and we love his food."

A native of Edwards, signature chef Nick Wallace acquired his culinary talents from his grandmothers, Lennel Donald and Queen Morris, who both practiced Southern home- cooking with farm-rooted family recipes. Named Mississippi’s Best Chef of 2020 and a member of the Best Chefs America, Wallace is renowned for his Mississippi-fashioned “farm to table” cooking method using garden-fresh locally grown produce and made- from-scratch ingredients in his cuisine blended with a unique classical French style. He has been featured on several international culinary competitions on the Cooking Channel and Food Network and won the Food Network’s Chopped: Alton’s Challenge in 2017 and their Fire Masters television series title in April 2021. He has also been published in cultural and culinary magazines such as Southern Living.

Chef Wallace served as a chef at the James Beard House in New York City and previously served as the executive chef at the King Edward Hotel and Mississippi Museum of Art in downtown Jackson. In addition to his restaurant business Nick Wallace Culinary, Wallace also operates his non-profit organization Creativity Kitchen, which provides healthier food selections for students in Jackson Public Schools and assists with other charity ministries in the community through food partnerships and cooking workshops.

The Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum—Two Mississippi Museums—are located at 222 North Street in Jackson. Café hours are Tuesday–Saturday, 9 a.m.–3 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. For more information email info@mdah.ms.gov.

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MDAH Board of Trustees Approves New Preservation Fund, Elects Kimberly Campbell mmorris Mon, 07/19/2021 - 12:59

On Friday, July 16, the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History elected a new board member and approved the establishment of the Mississippi Historic Site Preservation Fund. The Legislature created the program to provide funds to acquire and protect significant and endangered sites related to historic battlefields, Native American archaeology, and Civil Rights history, and to encourage tourism to these important destinations.

The Mississippi Historic Site Preservation Fund will award grants to defray the costs of land acquisition to protect historic properties. Grants will be awarded through a competitive application process and a one-to-one match is required. Colleges and universities, historical societies, state agencies, local governments, and 501c (3) nonprofit organizations are eligible to receive a grant through the program.

The deadline for applications is September 30, 2021. Access the application and learn more about the new grant program on the MDAH website at https://www.mdah.ms.gov/historic-preservation/preservation-planning-development#grants.

Reuben Anderson retired from the MDAH board after serving since 2007. Board members elected Kimberly L. Campbell of Jackson to fill the unexpired term of Anderson. Campbell, the State Director of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), is an attorney and former member of the Mississippi House of Representatives.

Members of the board serve six-year terms. At its April 16 meeting, the board selected Spence Flatgard of Ridgeland to serve as its president beginning in October.

Other members of the board of trustees of the Department of Archives and History are Hilda Cope Povall of Cleveland, vice president; Nancy Carpenter, Columbus; Betsey Hamilton, New Albany; Web Heidelberg, Hattiesburg; Edmond Hughes, Ocean Springs; Mark Keenum, Starkville; and Helen Moss Smith of Natchez.

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History is the second-oldest state department of archives and history in the United States. The department collects, preserves, and provides access to the archival resources of the state, administers various museums and historic sites, and oversees statewide programs for historic preservation, state and local government records management, and publications. For more information call 601-576-6850 or email info@mdah.ms.gov.

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Nissan Foundation Donates $30,000 for Field Trips to State History, Civil Rights Museums therron Fri, 07/16/2021 - 11:07

The Nissan Foundation has donated $30,000 to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) to underwrite field trips to the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum for the upcoming school year.    

"We are grateful to the Nissan Foundation for their support of our field trip program,” said Katie Blount, director of MDAH. “School children are the most important people we serve. The foundation’s generosity will help us reach our goal for every student in the state to visit the Two Mississippi Museums at least once.”

“For nearly 30 years, the Nissan Foundation has been committed to amplifying the efforts of nonprofit organizations doing the important work of sharing diverse cultural perspectives and experiences with communities across the country,” said Parul Bajaj, senior manager, Nissan Philanthropy. “At perhaps no other time in recent history has the work of Two Mississippi Museums been so critical. We are proud to support their efforts to inspire people to embrace the value of our differences.”

The funds will be used to defray costs such as admission, travel, and on-site lunches for students. To reserve or learn more about field trips at the Two Mississippi Museums, contact Stephanie King, field trips coordinator, at sking@mdah.ms.gov.

Two Mississippi Museums hours are Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m.–5 p.m. The museums are open free of charge on Sundays from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. and are located at 222 North Street in Jackson. For more information email info@mdah.ms.gov

Nissan in Mississippi

Since opening its doors in 2003, Nissan’s assembly plant in Canton, Mississippi, has donated more than $18 million and worked more than 12,000 volunteer hours to support more than 200 nonprofit organizations in the Greater Jackson area. The facility employs more than 5,500 people who build the Nissan Altima, Frontier, TITAN and TITAN XD, NV Cargo and NV Passenger vehicles.

Image cutline: Pictured are MDAH board member Helen Moss Smith, Nissan Philanthropy senior manager Parul Bajaj, MDAH board member Nancy Carpenter, MDAH director Katie Blount, MDAH board members Hilda Cope Povall, Betsey Hamilton, and Web Heidelburg, and outgoing MDAH board president Judge Reuben V. Anderson.

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Foraging Where We Live at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians

On Saturday, July 24, at 10 a.m., the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians will present its first in-person program since the COVID-19 pandemic with a lecture and outdoor foraging demonstration led by special guest Tammy Greer of the University of Southern Mississippi (USM). In recognition of the Natchez Indians’ July harvest moon celebrating the cultivation of peaches and wild grapes, visitors will learn about the indigenous plants such as blackberries, muscadines, and walnuts that made up the diets and cultures of Native Americans before the modernization of common farm crops. Greer will also lead  a guided walk on the Grand Village nature trail in search of these historic edible plants. 

“We need to recognize our native plants for what they were to our ancestors, and we need to recognize them for what they are today,” said Tammy Greer. “Many of these plants still provide strong building materials (hickory, osage orange), healthy foods (muscadines, blackberries, blueberries, persimmons), beautiful basket materials (cane, palmetto, long leaf pine, coral honeysuckle), awesome drinks (yaupon holly, elder flower, sumac lemonade), amazing dyes (poke berries, black walnut, goldenrod, dock root), and medicines (yarrow, elderberry, purple coneflower). These plants will stay with us forever if we harvest sustainably and tend them as they, for thousands of years, have tended us.” 

 The Grand Village of the Natchez Indians is considered part of the Eastern Agricultural Complex (EAC), a historic term for the region extending from across the present-day Mississippi River valley area where Native Americans cultivated thousands of native species of herbs, seeds, grasses, berries, flowers, vegetables, and other crops for food, clothing, medicines and various other uses. The EAC began to decline among Native Americans in the region after the mass production of conventional crops such as corn began to rise. Most plants that thrived in the EAC are rarely cultivated and others are considered as ordinary garden weeds. Sunflowers and squashes are modern-day examples of EAC plants that were heavily cultivated by Native Americans and are still widely grown today. 

Tammy Greer serves as the director of the Center for American Indian Research and Studies and an associate professor of psychology at USM. She has collaborated on numerous endeavors with tribal nations and members, including the 2005 creation of the Medicine Wheel heritage garden at USM. Greer has presented several talks and workshops on Southeastern American Indians and is currently working with the Mississippi IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence and the USM Telenutrition Center to address health disparities among Southeastern American Indians. 

The Grand Village of the Natchez Indians was the main ceremonial mound center of the Natchez people from 1682 until 1730. The 128-acre National Historic Landmark features three mounds, a plaza, nature trail, museum, and store. Administered by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, the Grand Village is located at 400 Jefferson Davis Boulevard and is open free of charge to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and Sundays 1:30 to 5 p.m.  Call 601-446-6502 or email info@natchezgrandvillage.com for more information. 

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Community Heritage Preservation Grant Applications Open morrisey Thu, 07/01/2021 - 16:15

MDAH is accepting applications for preservation projects across the state. The 2021 Mississippi Legislature has provided funding for another round of the Community Heritage Preservation Grant (CHPG) Program, which helps preserve, restore, rehabilitate, and interpret historic courthouses and schools. In Certified Local Government communities grant funds may also be used for projects involving historic buildings other than courthouses or schools.

The MDAH Board of Trustees will award the grants in December. County or municipal governments, school districts, and nonprofit organizations granted 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status may submit applications. A cash match of at least twenty percent is required, and grant awards are reimbursed upon the successful completion of the project.

Guidelines and applications may be downloaded from the following link: CHPG Application. The deadline to submit completed applications is October 1. For more information call 601-576-6940.

The fifty-five CLG communities in Mississippi are Aberdeen, Baldwyn, Biloxi, Booneville, Brandon, Canton, Carrollton, Carthage, Claiborne County, Clarksdale, Cleveland, Clinton, Columbia, Columbus, Como, Corinth, Durant, Gautier, Greenville, Greenwood, Hattiesburg, Hazlehurst, Hernando, Holly Springs, Indianola, Jackson, Kosciusko, Laurel, Leland, Lexington, Louisville, McComb, Meridian, Mound Bayou, Mount Olive, Natchez, New Albany, Newton, Ocean Springs, Oxford, Pascagoula, Philadelphia, Port Gibson, Quitman, Raymond, Senatobia, Sharkey County, Starkville, Tunica, Tupelo, Vicksburg, Water Valley, West, West Point, and Woodville.

For more information email info@mdah.ms.gov.

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Local Government Records Grant Applications Open morrisey Thu, 07/01/2021 - 14:43

MDAH is accepting applications for records management projects from eligible counties across the state. Grant funds may be used to purchase shelving, digitization equipment, archival preservation supplies, ultraviolet film for windows and lighting, vendor digitization and indexing, and HVAC upgrades. Each grant recipient is eligible for a maximum $10,000. Five grants, totaling up to $50,000, will be awarded this round.

Counties that collect the $1 records management fee in at least one office as authorized in § 25-60-5, Mississippi Code of 1972, as amended, are eligible to apply for this grant. A cash match of at least twenty percent is required, and grant awards are reimbursed upon the successful completion of the project.

The MDAH Board of Trustees will award the grants in December.

Guidelines and applications may be downloaded from the following link: LGRO Application. The deadline to submit completed applications is October 1, 2021.

The seventy-six participating counties in Mississippi are Adams, Alcorn, Amite, Attala, Benton, Bolivar, Calhoun, Carroll, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Claiborne, Clarke, Clay, Coahoma, Copiah, Covington, DeSoto, Forrest, Franklin, Greene, Grenada, Hancock, Harrison, Hinds, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Lafayette, Lamar,  Lauderdale, Lawrence, Leake, Lee, Lincoln, Lowndes, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Monroe, Montgomery, Neshoba, Newton, Noxubee, Oktibbeha, Panola, Pearl River, Perry, Pike, Pontotoc, Prentiss, Quitman, Rankin, Scott, Simpson, Smith, Stone, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tippah, Tishomingo, Union, Walthall, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Webster, Wilkinson, Winston, Yalobusha and Yazoo.

For more information email info@mdah.ms.gov.

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State History, Civil Rights Museums to Honor Birthday of Medgar Evers with Free Admission therron Mon, 06/28/2021 - 16:32

Civil rights icon Medgar Evers was born on July 2, 1925. In honor of his birthday, admission to the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and Museum of Mississippi History will be free on Friday, July 2. Admission will also include the special exhibit, I AM A MAN: Civil Rights Photographs in the American South, 1960–1970. Museum staff will highlight Evers’s life and legacy through guided tours at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

“Medgar Evers was an American hero, whose strength and tenacity is unequaled,” said Pamela D.C. Junior, director of the Two Mississippi Museums. “In honor of the day that he was born, July 2, 1925, the Two Mississippi Museums will offer free admission to our visitors to read and to learn more about this great man who wanted freedom for all.”

A native of Decatur, Evers served in World War II and graduated from Alcorn A&M College in 1952. He began his civil rights journey as an insurance agent for the Magnolia Mutual Insurance Company in Mound Bayou. After a failed attempt to enroll in the University of Mississippi School of Law due to racial discrimination in 1954, Evers began working with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to help organize boycotts and recruit local chapters in the community. His leadership skills and expertise eventually led him to become its first Mississippi field secretary. Evers relocated to Jackson and established an NAACP field office in the Masonic Temple on John R. Lynch Street near Jackson State College. He organized voter registration drives; participated in local demonstrations, sit-ins, and boycotts; and investigated numerous hate crimes, lynchings, and cases of discrimination against African Americans across the state.

Safety precautions at the museums include requiring all visitors to wear masks and observe social distancing guidelines. Masks are available on-site. Regular museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission to the museums is free on Sundays.

The museums are located at 222 North Street in Jackson. For more information, email info@mdah.ms.gov.

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State Historical Society Announces Call for Papers mmorris Mon, 06/28/2021 - 11:05

The Mississippi Historical Society is pleased to announce a call for individual papers and complete panels on topics related to the study of Mississippi history for presentation at its annual meeting March 1011, 2022, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

“Mississippi’s history is full of compelling stories,” said Mississippi Historical Society (MHS) president Stephanie Rolph. "Our annual meeting provides a space for us to appreciate the diverse contributors to our history and its preservation. From teachers to public historians and archivists, our community benefits from the various investments that have made our history so vibrant and accessible."

Founded in 1858, MHS proudly embraces the contributions of scholars and laypersons interested in the study and dissemination of all aspects of Mississippi history. Undergraduate and graduate student participation is encouraged, in addition to scholarly work from professional historians in a variety of practices—archival, teaching faculty, and public historians. MHS values the ongoing work of educators across the state and would welcome proposals from elementary and secondary teachers offering unique deliveries of Mississippi history curriculum, community-engaged learning practices with local archives/libraries, or other partner-oriented learning opportunities. While all proposals are welcome, we are especially interested in topics and approaches that broaden our shared understanding of Mississippi’s culture, economy, political landscape, and social history. MHS encourages interactive presentations that engage our participants’ interest and knowledge of Mississippi’s history through a collaborative approach that solicits feedback.

Individual paper proposals should include a 250-word abstract of the topic, name and affiliation (institution of higher learning, school, business, government entity, museum, archive, etc.), and presenter’s contact information. Panel proposals should include a 500-word abstract that contains a brief description of each proposed topic and includes the names, affiliations, and contact information for each presenter. Proposals are due Friday, September 17, 2021. Please send directly to mhs@mdah.ms.gov. For more information visit the Mississippi Historical Society website at www.mississippihistory.org.

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"Mississippi Burning" Case Files Open at State Archives therron Mon, 06/21/2021 - 16:24

Case files, photographs, and other records documenting the 1964 murders of civil rights activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner are now available to researchers at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH). The materials were gathered and compiled by the Mississippi Attorney General’s office in its 2004 reopening of the Mississippi Burning (code name MiBurn) case and investigation, which culminated in the June 2005 trial and conviction of Edgar Ray Killen. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood officially closed the investigation in 2016, and the files were transferred to MDAH in spring 2019.

The materials, dating from 1964 to 2007, include case files, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) memoranda, research notes, photographs of the exhumation of the victims’ bodies and subsequent autopsies, aerial photographs of the burial site, federal informant reports, and witness testimonies.

Goodman and Schwerner were two of the hundreds of volunteers who joined Mississippi Freedom Summer in 1964. The primary goals of the project were to register voters, conduct Freedom Schools, and promote civil rights.

Schwerner and his wife, Rita, joined Freedom Summer in January 1964 and worked with Meridian native James Chaney, an experienced Congress of Racial Equality organizer. Chaney and Schwerner worked with the congregation at Mount Zion Methodist Church in rural Neshoba County to organize a Freedom School.

On June 16, 1964, a delegation of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan attacked parishioners attending a meeting at Mt. Zion Church. Later that night, the Klansmen burned the church to the ground. Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner drove to investigate the burning. The three men were abducted and killed on June 21 and buried in an earthen dam.

The bodies of the civil rights workers were found on August 4, 1964. In October 1967, the federal government charged eighteen men with conspiracy, including Edgar Ray Killen. Neshoba County Sheriff Deputy Cecil Price, Sam Bowers, and five others were convicted. The jury failed to convict Edgar Ray Killen. In 2005, Killen, a former Baptist minister and Ku Klux Klansman, was convicted of manslaughter in the 1964 slayings.

There are three catalog records for the collection: the Attorney General’s research files are Series 2870, the FBI Memos are Series 2902, and the photographs are Series 2903. Each catalog record includes a box-level description.

MDAH collects and preserves the archival resources of the state, including official government records, books and manuscripts related to Mississippi history, personal papers, newspapers, newsfilm, audio recordings, photographs, and more. These materials are available to the public free of charge at the William F. Winter Archives and History Building, 200 North St., Jackson. Contact our reference department at refdesk@mdah.ms.gov to learn more about gaining access to the collections. For more information email info@mdah.ms.gov or visit the department’s website, www.mdah.ms.gov.

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