At a regular meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) on Friday, April 16, Reuben Anderson announced his plans to retire in July. Spence Flatgard of Ridgeland was elected to serve as board president beginning in October.
“Mississippi has been uplifted by Justice Anderson’s leadership, character and grace,” said Flatgard. “We all stand on his shoulders and those of former board presidents Mayor Kane Ditto and Governor William Winter. We invite every Mississippian to visit our world-class museums and compelling sites throughout our state to reflect on our rich history and look ahead to our bright future together.”
Anderson joined the board in 2007 and was elected president in 2020. After becoming the first Black student to graduate from the University of Mississippi School of Law, Anderson began his career during the 1960s as a civil rights attorney with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense Fund. In 1977, Anderson became the first African American to be appointed a county court judge in Mississippi. In 1982, he became the state’s first African American circuit court judge, and he became the first African American to serve on the Mississippi Supreme Court in 1985.
Anderson was instrumental in the creation of the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, helping to raise $20 million for its construction. Most recently, Anderson served as chair of the Commission to Redesign the Mississippi State Flag, which recommended a new design to represent the state. On November 3, 2021, Mississippians voted overwhelmingly to approve the design.
“Reuben Anderson has made history all his life, and he did no less at MDAH,” said MDAH director Katie Blount. “From the beginning, he shared Governor Winter's vision for the Two Mississippi Museums, and his strong public advocacy ensured the project's success. With strength and moral clarity, he led Mississippi in choosing a new flag that elevates our state and unites our people. I speak for all the staff as I say that we are honored by his leadership and proud of what we have accomplished together.”
Anderson said, “I am proud to be succeeded by Spence Flatgard, who will be a strong leader for MDAH, drawing on his thorough understanding of the agency’s work and his broad network of contacts both in the public and private sector. Like Kane Ditto and myself, Spence is a great admirer of Governor William Winter and shares his conviction that we cannot move forward together without a shared understanding of our history. Spence will lead this outstanding board with character and commitment, and I look forward to watching MDAH flourish in the coming years.”
Flatgard began his career as Senator Roger Wicker’s first Legislative Director and has served as State Bond Attorney for both Governors Barbour & Bryant. He is now a government affairs attorney and partner at Watkins & Eager, PLLC, located two blocks from the Two Mississippi Museums. He and his wife Lou Ann cheer for their daughter Andie’s basketball teams as their family pastime.
Blount said, “Spence brings a wide range of skills and professional experience to MDAH. He is passionate about the work we do and has built strong relationships with the staff. We look forward to continuing to expand our audience and strengthen our impact under his leadership.”
A new trustee will be elected to fill Anderson’s seat in July. Members serve six-year terms. 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.
Winners of the 2021 Mississippi History Day State Contest were announced in a virtual awards ceremony on April 17. First, second, and third place winners were chosen from the five contest categories. Special awards were also presented to students based on their projects.
"We are so incredibly proud of what students across the state were able to produce this year,” said Al Wheat, state coordinator for Mississippi History Day and MDAH director of education. “Despite all the hurdles in front of them, these students were able to conduct research and create projects that were bordering on, if not exceeding, college level work. All the participants should be thrilled with the work they did this year."
More than eighty student projects were submitted for the annual event, which was held virtually for the second year in a row due to COVID-19. Judges from MDAH, the University of Southern Mississippi, the Mississippi Historical Society, and other organizations analyzed student papers, documentaries, websites, exhibits, performances, and research related to this year’s annual theme, “Communication in History: The Key to Understanding.”
The 2021 Mississippi History Day awards ceremony is available for viewing on the Mississippi History Day Facebook page. For more information about Mississippi History Day, visit the MDAH official website. Winning entries from the contest categories are listed below:
First Place—Aline L. (Oak Grove High School), "Making Myths Out of History: Remembering Bulgaria's Batak Massacre"
Second Place—Emma L. (Pascagoula High School), "The Fighter in the Writer: Dr. Seuss’s Wartime Cartoons, Military Education Videos, and Political Allegories"
Third Place—Shirl C. (Pascagoula High School), "The American Code Girls of WWII: Cracking the Code of Communication"
Junior Individual Exhibit
First Place—Abigail M. (Jefferson Middle School), "British Suffrage Movement: The Struggle to be Understood"
Senior Individual Exhibit
First Place—Elsie A. (Lafayette High School), “Protest In The Spirit of Crazy Horse: The American Indian Movement”
Second Place—Berkley M. (Lafayette High School), “War Pigeons: The Unsung Heroes of Communication in the World Wars”
Third Place—Grace F. (Lafayette High School), “Communication of Culper Spy Ring”
Senior Group Exhibit
First Place—Mia D. and Olivia R. (Lafayette High School), "How the Titanic Communicated a New Message"
Second Place—Kailey G. and Caden C. (Lafayette High School), "FDR: Chatting with the Nation"
Third Place—Sara Jane W. and London-Grace D. (Lafayette High School), "The Inevitable Invention of the Internet and How it Changed the World"
Senior Individual Performance
First Place—Sarah H. (Lafayette High School), "Why Braille Is Important: The True Story"
Senior Individual Documentary
First Place—Nathan G. (Mississippi School for Math and Science), "Tapping in the Heart of Darkness"
Second Place—April G. (Starkville High School), "Stirring the American Conscious: How Lewis Hine Exposed the Harsh Realities of Child Labor Through Social Photography"
Third Place—Sloane C. (Lafayette High School), "Eleanor Roosevelt: Heroine Behind the Scenes"
Senior Group Documentary
First Place—Marly K. and Genesis W. (Lafayette High School), "Comic Book Communication: You Can Be Anything"
Second Place—Madison B. and Braylon R. (Lafayette High School), "The American Experience Through Selma's Eyes"
Third Place—Mary Margaret B., Kate D., Amanda K., and Neely W. (Starkville High School) "Jerry Mitchell: Uncovering the Truth"
Senior Individual Website
First Place—Haley M. (Pascagoula High School), "Why We March - How the Language of Protest was the Key to LGBT Liberation"
Second Place—Catherine W. (Lafayette High School), “A Lady Never Tells...: The WWII Women in Espionage and Intelligence”
Third Place—Aubrey G. (Lafayette High School), "Music and How it Tells our Stories"
Senior Group Website
First Place—Amanda Z., Jessica Y., and Amy Z. (Mississippi School for Math and Science), "Hello Girls: The Trailblazers of Telecommunication in WWI"
Second Place—Ja'Shaylee M. and Ja'Kaylee M. (Pascagoula High School), "The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom"
Third Place—Nina P., Khushi P., Kinjal P., and Kashama M. (Mississippi School for Math and Science), "The Diversity of Indo-Aryan Languages in India"
Best Project in Mississippi History (Sponsored by the Mississippi Historical Society)
Winner—Presleigh L. and Sydney H. (Lafayette High School), "The King of Rock and Roll: Message through Music"
Honorable Mention—Danaria W. (Lafayette High School), "Ida B. Wells: Shedding Light on Atrocities through Journalism"
Black History Award (Sponsored by the Center for Black Studies and Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Southern Mississippi)
Winner—Ja'Shaylee M. and Ja'Kaylee M. (Pascagoula High School), "The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom"
Honorable Mention—Kyle T. and Bralen W. (Lafayette High School), "Music: A Major Factor in Civil Rights"
Best Project in Mass Media (Sponsored by the Mississippi Public Broadcasting Foundation)
Winner—April G. (Starkville High School), "Stirring the American Conscious: How Lewis Hine Exposed the Harsh Realities of Child Labor Through Social Photography"
Honorable Mention - Elsa P. (Lafayette High School), "The Jazz Singer: Revolutionizing Film Culture With Song"
Best Project in Gulf South History (Sponsored by the Center for the Study of the Gulf South at the University of Southern Mississippi)
Winner—Benjamin F. (Lafayette High School), "Blues: The Other Side of History"
Honorable Mention—Addison J. and Brooke H. (Lafayette High School), "Hidden Maps: Communicating Freedom in Quilts"
Archival Award (Sponsored by the Society of Mississippi Archivists)
Winner—Sloane C. (Lafayette High School), "Eleanor Roosevelt: Heroine Behind the Scenes"
Honorable Mention—Shirl C. (Pascagoula High School), "The American Code Girls of WWII: Cracking the Code of Communication"
Oral History Award (Sponsored by the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage at the University of Southern Mississippi)
Winner—Marly K. and Genesis W. (Lafayette High School), "Comic Book Communication: You Can Be Anything"
Women’s History Award (Sponsored by the Women’s and Gender Studies Center at the University of Southern Mississippi)
Winner—Catherine W. (Lafayette High School), “A Lady Never Tells...: The WWII Women in Espionage and Intelligence”
Honorable Mention—Amanda Z., Jessica Y., and Amy Z. (Mississippi School for Math and Science), "Hello Girls: The Trailblazers of Telecommunication in WWI"
Best Project in Military History (Sponsored by the Dale Center for the Study of War and Society at the University of Southern Mississippi)
Winner—Nathan G. (Mississippi School for Math and Science), "Tapping in the Heart of Darkness"
Honorable Mention—Berkley M. (Lafayette High School), "War Pigeons: The Unsung Heroes of Communication in the World Wars"
Best Projects in the Humanities (Sponsored by the Mississippi Humanities Council)
Winner—Angelica N. (Pascagoula High School), "Viva La Raza: The Chicano Movement"
Winner—Kenaysia S., Daleisha F., Gabby M., and Jaylen C. (Pascagoula High School), "Communication in Civil Rights: The Pink Triangle.. A New Meaning"
Winner—Haley M. (Pascagoula High School), "Why We March - How the Language of Protest was the Key to LGBT Liberation"
The Eudora Welty House & Garden will launch a new outdoor audio tour on Tuesday, April 13, in recognition of Eudora Welty’s birthday. The Welty Garden Audio Tour interprets the history of Welty’s garden and its influence on her writing.
“We are excited to offer our visitors an audio tour of the Welty garden,” said Katie Blount, director of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH). “To hear Mary Alice Welty White read her aunt’s words about the flowers she and her mother nurtured adds an intimacy to the garden tour, which is closer now to the experience of walking through her house.”
The twenty-minute tour includes music, nature sounds, and narration read by retired Welty Garden curator Susan Haltom. The audio tour is available for listeners online at https://welty.mdah.ms.gov/visit/audiotour.
The new exhibit A Parade of Bloom: Stories From the Welty Garden is now open to visitors at the Eudora Welty House & Garden Visitor Center and highlights the importance of gardening in Eudora Welty’s family and social life as well as her literature. The exhibit includes photographs of Welty’s family in the garden, artifacts, garden maps, flower sketches, and journals. Visitors also can learn about featured camellias in the garden and their importance in several of Welty’s friendships. The Visitor Center is free and open to the public Tuesday–Friday, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. and Saturday 12:30–4 p.m.
The Eudora Welty House & Garden interprets the life of the internationally acclaimed author. Tours are by reservation Tuesday–Friday, 9 & 11 a.m. and 1 & 3 p.m. and Saturday, 1 & 3 p.m. To reserve a tour, email email@example.com or call 601-353-7762. The Eudora Welty House & Garden is located at 1119 Pinehurst Street in Jackson and is operated by MDAH.
The Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) has created a new website that prioritizes the repatriation of human remains and cultural items in the department’s archaeological collection. The website will inform the public about the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and serve as a virtual platform for consultation with the department’s federally-recognized Tribal partners.
The website features NAGPRA collections updates, policies and procedures, and links to more information about the department’s Tribal partners. An interactive map shows the status of ongoing repatriations in Mississippi counties across the state. MDAH completed its first repatriation earlier this year.
The Choctaw Nation, Chickasaw Nation, and Muscogee (Creek) Nation generously provided images featured on the website. The Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana provided additional content.
“Our goal is to engage the public in NAGPRA and to provide information about our collections in a way that hasn’t been done before,” says Meg Cook, director of archaeology collections. “The most important part is remembering that these remains are people, and their families want to see that they are reburied.”
The website will feature internship opportunities, Tribal stories, collections updates, and repatriation progress. For more information visit the website at http://nagpra.mdah.ms.gov/.
A new book uses Mississippi’s civic structures, log cabins, schools, mansions, and skyscrapers to broaden our understanding of the state’s history. Buildings of Mississippi, co-authored by Jennifer V.O. Baughn and Michael Fazio with contributions by Mimi Miller, is the definitive guide to understanding Mississippi’s rich architectural heritage.
“Buildings of Mississippi is the first field guide that covers all periods from prehistoric mounds to buildings of the 21st century,” said Baughn, chief architectural historian at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. “I hope the book shows visitors the variety of Mississippi's built environment and gives Mississippians a reason to take a second look at their hometowns.”
Buildings of Mississippi contains more than 500 building entries, 250 illustrations, and thirty maps. Each entry includes an architectural description of the structure and a brief history. The book is a volume in the Buildings of the United States series of the Society of Architectural Historians. Baughn spent nine years writing Buildings of Mississippi with Fazio, a longtime professor of architecture at Mississippi State University who died last year.
“Michael Fazio was a mentor to generations of architecture students from MSU, and I was so honored to work with him as co-author on Buildings of Mississippi,” said Baughn. “He was a good friend, and I miss his guidance and laughter.”
Baughn and Fazio divided the work on the book geographically—because Fazio lived in Starkville, he took care of the north and east central regions. They jointly wrote the entries for the Coast, picking out sites as they drove along Highway 90. Mimi Miller, executive director emerita of the Historic Natchez Foundation, wrote the entries for Adams County, setting down in print a wealth of knowledge about some of Mississippi’s most architecturally distinctive buildings.
“The book integrates the racial landscape by examining both black and white neighborhoods and landmarks,” said Baughn. “There are the famous white-columned mansions of Natchez that have been the mainstay of heritage tourism since the 1930s but also the distinctive outbuildings that surround them such as kitchens, dairies, and quarters for enslaved workers; there are also elite neighborhoods like Eastover in Jackson nearby the modest GI Subdivision, established by World War II veterans returning from service.”
“Buildings of Mississippi is an invaluable resource and a pleasure to read,” said MDAH director Katie Blount. “Baughn and Fazio offer a fascinating, thoughtful, and beautifully written chronicle of the evolution of our state’s built environment, paying particular attention to the complexities of race and class that have shaped our landscape and culture.”
Signed copies of Buildings of Mississippi are for sale at the Mississippi Museum Store. Call 601-576-6921 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
A hand-drawn 1856 map of the second largest slave market in the United States during the nineteenth century is now available on the MDAH Digital Archives. Shown is the Forks of the Road site at the intersection of what was then Washington Road and Old Courthouse Road in Natchez. The image is part of Series 2051: Natchez Municipal Records, 1795–1982.
The map, drawn by Natchez city surveyor Thomas Kenny, shows the city of Natchez corporation line and the names of the slave market buildings: Elam, James, O. Ferrall, Kent, and McCabe. The back of the map reads “Survey of St. Catherine St. at Forks of the Road Aug. 1, 1856.”
Kenny, a native of Galway, Ireland, became a naturalized citizen in 1854. He was elected as Justice of the Peace in Adams County in 1860. He died in Natchez in 1867. An 1853 map illustrating the slave markets at the Forks of the Road site, the earliest of its kind, was also drawn by Kenny and is housed at the state archives.
Natchez was the most active slave trading city in the state and fourth richest city in the United States. Nevertheless, evidence shows the enslaved people in Natchez engaged in countless acts of resistance to their conditions. After achieving freedom in Natchez in July 1863, hundreds of formerly enslaved African Americans sought refuge at the Forks of the Road. The United States Colored Troops established a camp at the site in 1863.
Today, the Forks of the Road site, located at the intersection of Liberty Road, Saint Catherine Street, and Devereaux Street in Natchez, tells the story of the slave trade and the men, women, and children bought and sold there. Learn more about the Forks of the Road on the Mississippi History Now website.
On Thursday, April 1, the historic section of the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion will reopen to the public for guided tours. Free guided tours will be offered Tuesday through Thursday at 9:30 a.m., 10 a.m., and 10:30 a.m. Reservations are mandatory and must be made at least seventy-two hours in advance.
“After a long year filled with many challenges, we are so excited to resume tours at the Governor’s Mansion,” said First Lady Elee Reeves. “We look forward to seeing everyone who comes to visit Mississippi’s home! It is our hope that each of you will come learn more about this historic home, and grow to love it as much as we do.”
To make a reservation, email the curator at email@example.com or call 601-359-6421. As a precaution, a maximum of ten visitors per time slot will be allowed in the mansion and face coverings will be required.
The Mississippi Governor’s Mansion, a National Historic Landmark, is administered by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. First occupied in 1842, the Governor's Mansion is the second-oldest continuously occupied governor's residence in the United States.
The Greek Revival building was designed by William Nichols, an English-born architect who also designed the Old Capitol. The mansion was renovated in 1908–09, then underwent a renovation and restoration in the 1970s that included the acquisition of appropriate antique furniture and accessories to furnish the historic interior.
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) has transferred the remains of 403 Native Americans and eighty-three lots of burial objects to the Chickasaw Nation. This is the largest return of human remains in Mississippi history, and the first for MDAH.
"This repatriation is a huge milestone for our institution and our Tribal partners," said MDAH director Katie Blount. "We are committed to the repatriation of human remains and cultural objects in the department’s archaeological collections."
Since the nineteenth century, archaeological excavations have unearthed hundreds of the ancestral remains of people who once inhabited the state and whose cultures continue today. The passage of the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) gave Native populations the right to claim ancestors and cultural objects in the care of institutions receiving federal funds.
Working closely with Tribal representatives and the National NAGPRA Program, the transfer of these human remains took place over the course of more than two years. MDAH sought guidance in preparing the remains for reburial, which will take place this year.
"The Chickasaw Nation has developed a strong working relationship with MDAH as a result of this repatriation," said Amber Hood, Director of Historic Preservation & Repatriation, The Chickasaw Nation. "Caring for our ancestors is extremely important to us, and we appreciate the dedication and transparency their staff has shown throughout the consultation process."
"It is important to remember that these are people, buried with items with strong cultural ties to their communities, the same way that people today might be laid to rest wearing a wedding band," said Meg Cook, MDAH director of archaeology collections. "While these artifacts inform the archaeological record, it is our ethical and legal obligation to see that they are returned."
MDAH is thankful for its volunteers, who hand sewed muslin bags that were used to carefully wrap each individual with their belongings. This material was purchased partly with funds from a National NAGRA Program grant.
At 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 25, join us for a discussion of the local and national impact of the ground-breaking case Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan in 1982. This pivotal decision not only opened the door to admitting men to the first public women’s college in the United States, but also set an important precedent in future gender discrimination cases that led to the admission of women to the Virginia Military Institute in 1996.
The Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) has launched a new podcast featuring authors and experts discussing the state’s landmark moments and overlooked stories. Speaking of Mississippi will explore the Civil War Siege of Jackson, the state’s 1878 yellow fever epidemic, the desegregation of the capital city’s public swimming pools, the Jackson State shootings, and more during its first season.
“We’ve spoken with distinguished scholars from in state and across the country who have conducted original research on the people, places, and events that continue to shape Mississippi,” said MDAH director Katie Blount. “And with our rich musical heritage we have been able to feature Mississippians in our theme songs.”
The opening music in the six-episode first season is taken from a 1942 recording by Sid Hemphill, the most storied Black musician in the Mississippi hills in the early twentieth century. The closing music was recorded in 1939 by Tishomingo County fiddler John Hatcher and included on the 1985 MDAH release Great Big Yam Potatoes.
“These half-hour episodes were a natural fit for the department as we continue to find new ways to tell Mississippi’s stories,” said Blount. “It’s fascinating to hear the parallels between the yellow fever epidemic of 140 years ago and the current pandemic—and the similar ways Mississippians reacted to both.”
The Speaking of Mississippi podcast is a production of MDAH made possible by the Community Foundation for Mississippi through its John and Lucy Shackelford Charitable Fund.
Episodes 1 through 4 are available now on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, Spotify, Stitcher, and other podcasting platforms, as well as on the MDAH website, mdah.ms.gov.