MDAH News

MDAH Among Top Genealogy Websites in U.S.

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History’s (MDAH) website was named one of the best genealogical websites in the country by Family Tree Magazine, a national family history publication.

“We are grateful for being included on this list,” said Ally Mellon, MDAH library services director. “We strive to connect people with genealogical resources pertaining to Mississippi both online and in person and are delighted others have found the page useful.”

MDAH has compiled a list of online resources for researchers interested in tracing their family history. Reference librarians provide quick answers to basic questions using available reference works and finding aids. Email your research questions to refdesk@mdah.ms.gov.

Due to safety precautions for COVID-19, appointments are recommended for research in the William F. Winter Archives and History Building. Available appointment times are Monday–Friday at 9–11:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m., and 2–4 p.m.  Call 601-576-6837 to schedule your time. Patrons without an appointment will be accommodated as space allows.

Appointment times for Saturdays will be 8:15–10:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.–12:45 p.m.

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History was founded in 1902. It is the second-oldest state department of archives and history in the country. For more information email info@mdah.ms.gov.

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Holiday Hours at MDAH Sites

Holiday HoursMDAH is canceling this year’s Christmas by Candlelight Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but offering opportunities for the public to enjoy the holiday decorations at several sites.

Mississippi Governor’s Mansion

The historic section of the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion, decorated in traditional holiday style by Scott Reed and Petal Pushers of West Point, will open for tours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday and Saturday, December 4–5, and Monday–Wednesday, December 7–9. Tours will take place every half-hour and reservations must be made in advance through Eventbrite. As a precaution, a maximum of ten visitors per time slot will be allowed in the mansion and face coverings will be required.

This year’s theme, “Christmas at the Mansion: Honoring those on the Front Lines,” pays tribute to our first responders and frontline workers. First Lady Elee Reeves is encouraging the public to write thank you notes to those who have provided essential care, protection, and service to our state throughout this year.

Old Capitol Museum

The first floor of the Old Capitol Museum will open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday and Saturday, December 4–5, and Monday–Wednesday, December 7–9. Enjoy holiday music and archival video footage in the rotunda. A fun scavenger hunt for children will be offered. Garlands will suspend from the rotunda railing on the second floor. The exterior of the building will be decorated with wreaths. Several Christmas trees will stand in the rotunda and candles will be placed in some of the building’s windows. Face coverings required.

Mississippi State Capitol

The Mississippi State Capitol will open throughout December Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. A twenty-foot Christmas tree spanning up to the second floor will delight all upon entry. Festive greenery will adorn the cast-iron balustrades with red poinsettias along the grand staircase. The Capitol will close on Thursday, December 24, Friday, December 25, and Thursday, December 31. Face coverings required.

Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum

The Possum Ridge model train exhibit will be on display at the Two Mississippi Museums through December. Regular museum hours are Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m.–4 p.m. The museums are open free of charge on Sundays from noon–4 p.m. Safety precautions at museums include requiring all visitors to wear masks and observe social distancing guidelines. The museums will close on Christmas Day, December 25.

Eudora Welty House & Garden

Eudora Welty House & Garden tours take place 9 & 11 a.m. and 1 & 3 p.m., Tuesday–Friday, and 1 & 3 p.m. on Saturday. Purchase tickets by phone at 601-353-7762 or by email info@eudoraweltyhouse.com. The museum will close on Christmas day, December 25.

William F. Winter Archives and History Building

The state archives will close November 26–28, December 24–December 26, and December 31–January 1. Due to safety precautions for COVID-19, appointments are recommended for research in the William F. Winter Archives and History Building. Available appointment times are Monday–Friday at 9–11:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m., and 2–4 p.m.  Call 601-576-6837 to schedule your time. Patrons without an appointment will be accommodated as space allows.

Appointment times for Saturdays will be 8:15–10:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.–12:45 p.m.

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

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State History, Civil Rights Museums Partner with Mississippi Food Network

The Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum announce a Holiday Food Drive to benefit the Mississippi Food Network (MFN). Visitors who donate non-perishable food items from November 24 through December 23 will receive free admission to the Museum of Mississippi History, Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, and the special exhibit Mississippi Distilled: Prohibition, Piety, and Politics, or a 20% discount at the Mississippi Museum Store. See below for details.

“The museums are committed to helping the community, and we know that food insecurity has historically been a challenge across the state,” said Pamela D.C. Junior, director of the Two Mississippi Museums. “We are proud to work with MFN to bring awareness to this issue.”

“The Coronavirus pandemic has caused an unprecedented increase in the demand for food, statewide,” said Dr. Charles Beady Jr, CEO at the Mississippi Food Network. “In that regard, this tremendous gesture by the Two Mississippi Museums is welcomed, needed, and appreciated. We have seen an increase in the number of Mississippi families, senior citizens, and children who are facing food insecurity, and we expect this number to continue to rise as more families are faced with uncertainty during this time.” 

Suggested donation is five items per person for free admission or a 20% discount on merchandise at the Mississippi Museum Store. Non-perishable items include:

  • Canned meat, such as ham, tuna, chicken, Spam, Vienna Sausage, beef stew, and chicken and dumplings
  • Canned fruit, regular and lite
  • Canned vegetables
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Canned soups
  • Boxed stuffing mix
  • Boxed mashed or scalloped potatoes
  • Boxed macaroni and cheese
  • Ramen noodles.

Mississippi Food Network has been feeding Mississippians since 1984. MFN distributes more than 1.5 million pounds of food and feeds more than 150,000 every month—or a total of 1.8 million people per year. 

Safety precautions at the museums include requiring all visitors to wear masks and observe social distancing guidelines. Masks are available on-site. All public spaces have been sanitized, and thorough cleaning will continue every day. Hand sanitizing stations are provided and staff are on-site to ensure that social distancing guidelines are maintained. A limited number of visitors are allowed inside the museums at one time.

The maximum number of people per group is twenty. Regular museum hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. The museums are open free of charge on Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.

The museums and the Mississippi Museum Store are located at 222 North Street in Jackson. For more information email info@mdah.ms.gov.

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State History, Civil Rights Museums to Honor Essential Workers with Free Admission

In appreciation of all frontline and essential workers who have saved lives and given their services during the COVID-19 pandemic, admission to the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum will be free on Tuesday, November 17, 9 a.m.4 p.m. These individuals include health care workers, teachers, law-enforcement officers, fire fighters, and others. Guests will not be required to provide identification to receive free admission.

Safety precautions at museums include requiring all visitors to wear masks and observe social distancing guidelines. Masks are available on-site. All public spaces have been sanitized, and thorough cleaning will continue every day. Hand sanitizing stations are provided and staff are on-site to ensure that social distancing guidelines are maintained. A limited number of visitors are allowed inside the museums at one time. 

Visitors are encouraged to purchase their tickets online at tickets.mdah.ms.gov. The maximum number of people per group is twenty. Regular museum hours are Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m.4 p.m. The museums are open free of charge on Sundays from noon4 p.m. The museums are located at 222 North Street in Jackson. For more information, email info@mdah.ms.gov. 

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MDAH Accepting Applications for Welty Research Fellowship

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) is now accepting applications for the 2021 Eudora Welty Research Fellowship. Offered in partnership with the Eudora Welty Foundation, this annual fellowship awards a $5,000 stipend to one graduate student to conduct research using the Eudora Welty Collection at MDAH for two weeks during the summer. The deadline is March 26, 2021.

“This is the eleventh consecutive year the Eudora Welty Foundation has funded the award," said David Pilcher, director of MDAH Archives and Record Services. "Their generosity makes it possible for yet another highly-qualified fellow to travel to the state archives and use these one-of-a-kind materials."

Download the application and other materials HERE. The stipend may be used for travel, housing, and other expenses during the fellow’s two-week minimum stay in Jackson.

The Eudora Welty Collection is the world’s finest collection of materials related to Welty and one of the most varied literary collections in the United States. The collection includes manuscripts, letters, photographs, drawings, and essays that span Welty’s entire life.

Beginning in 1957, and over the course of more than forty years, Welty donated materials to the department, primarily literary manuscripts and photographs. At her death the remainder of her papers were bequeathed to MDAH and included unpublished manuscripts and 14,000 items of correspondence with family, friends, scholars, young writers, and noted writers.

The collection may be accessed at the William F. Winter Archives & History Building, 200 North Street, Jackson. The application is available at mdah.ms.gov. For more information about the collection or the fellowship, email April Blevins at ablevins@mdah.ms.gov.

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Veterans Day Ceremony

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) is partnering with the Daughters of the American Revolution, Mississippi Veterans Affairs, and Mississippi War Veterans Memorial Commission to honor Mississippians who serve and have served in the United States Armed Forces. The event begins at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, November 10, on Entergy Mississippi Plaza at the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. COVID-19 precautions will be in place. 

“Mississippi’s extraordinary record of military service is one of the most inspiring stories that we share in the museums,” said MDAH director Katie Blount. “We are pleased to join with our military service organizations to pay special tribute to all the many Mississippians who have served our country.”

The program will include a performance by the 41st Army Band, a moment of silence, recognition of the veterans in attendance, memorial volley, wreath laying, and a keynote speech delivered by Major General Janson D. Boyles—the Adjutant General of the Mississippi National Guard.

The museums are offering free admission to those currently serving in the military and veterans and a family member on November 10. The museums open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. The museums open free of charge on Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.

For more information, call 601-540-2794 or email Colonel Allen McDaniel at amcdaniel@ngams.org.

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Community Foundation of Mississippi Support to Enhance Weekly History Is Lunch Program

A partnership with the Community Foundation for Mississippi will fund the development of a podcast and strengthen the History Is Lunch lecture series by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. The gift expands on the Community Foundation’s previous $750,000 donation to the Two Mississippi Museums.

“The Community Foundation has been a strong supporter of the department’s work,” said MDAH director Katie Blount. “We are grateful for this gift from their John and Lucy Shackelford Charitable Fund, which will allow us to expand our outreach of the popular History Is Lunch series and bring in speakers from across the country.”

The History Is Lunch series began in 2005 and explores different aspects of the state’s history. The hour-long programs—in a streaming-only format during the COVID-19 epidemic—are livestreamed at noon Wednesdays on the MDAH Facebook page and can be watched there and on the department’s YouTube channel  anytime afterward. In-person programs will resume on in December.

“We are thrilled to partner in this endeavor,” said CFM president and CEO Jane Alexander. “As many of us are changing the ways we live and interact with one another, it’s more important than ever to invest in programs like these that make our lives worth living.”

By preserving Mississippi's diverse historic resources, and sharing them with people around the world, MDAH inspires discovery of stories that connect our lives and shape our future. For more information email info@mdah.ms.gov.

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The Two Mississippi Museums Celebrate Life of Fannie Lou Hamer, Offer Free Admission

Civil rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer was born October 6, 1917. In honor of Hamer’s birthday, admission to the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum will be free on Tuesday, October 6. Museum staff will highlight Hamer’s life and legacy through guided tours at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

“We honor Fannie Lou Hamer’s legacy daily at the Two Mississippi Museums,” said Pamela D.C. Junior, director of the Two Mississippi Museums. “We are offering free admission to the museums so people can learn more about this humble woman who gave of herself to uplift and strengthen her people.”

Born in 1917 in Montgomery County, Hamer worked for most of her life as a sharecropper. In 1962, she joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and encouraged African Americans to register to vote. Hamer was a founding member of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), which challenged the seating of the regular party’s all-white delegation.

Hamer’s powerful testimony to the credentials committee during the 1964 Democratic National Convention is featured in the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. The MFDP challenge forced the Democratic Party to eventually embrace diversity and forever changed American politics.

Visitors are required to wear masks and observe social distancing guidelines. Masks are available on-site. All public spaces are sanitized and thoroughly cleaned throughout the day. Hand sanitizing stations are provided and staff are on-site to ensure that social distancing guidelines are maintained.

Regular museum hours are Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m.–4 p.m. The museums are open free of charge on Sundays, noon–4 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to purchase their tickets online at tickets.mdah.ms.gov.

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

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State History, Civil Rights Museums to Open Free on Sundays

Effective October 1, the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum will add Sundays to its regular hours of operation. The museums will open free of charge on Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.

Safety Precautions

Visitors are required to wear masks and observe social distancing guidelines. Masks are available on-site. All public spaces are sanitized and thoroughly cleaned throughout the day. Hand sanitizing stations are provided and staff are on-site to ensure that social distancing guidelines are maintained. A limited number of visitors are allowed inside the museums at one time.

Hours are 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon–4 p.m. on Sunday. Visitors are encouraged to purchase their tickets online at tickets.mdah.ms.gov. Tickets are not required on Sundays. The maximum number of people per group is twenty.

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

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