Mississippi Historical Society

Nancy Bristow Wins Historical Society Award for Best Book on Mississippi History

Nancy BristowA book about the tragic 1970 shooting deaths of James Earl Green and Phillip Gibbs at Jackson State University has won the Mississippi Historical Society’s award for the best Mississippi history book of 2020. Nancy Bristow will be awarded the Book of the Year Award for her book Steeped in the Blood of Racism: Black Power, Law and Order, and the 1970 Shootings at Jackson State College published by the Oxford University Press.

“Long treated as an appendage to the tragedy at Kent State, the May 1970 JSU student protests and subsequent killings of Green and Gibbs have deserved a thorough, book-length study that places these events within their proper local and national context,” said Chuck Westmoreland, Delta State University history professor and chair of the book prize committee. “Placing the Jackson State University shootings in a proper national and local context, Bristow is able to highlight the role of local politics and law enforcement in the perpetration of the murders.”

Westmoreland continued, “Furthermore, as Mississippi and the nation continue to wrestle with the damaging legacies of racism and violence, it is fitting that Steeped in the Blood of Racism has won this honor.”

Bristow is chair of the History Department at the University of Puget Sound. She teaches twentieth-century American history, with an emphasis on race, gender, and social change.

“This project has meant a great deal to me, because it is a story that is not mine, but which I believe so deeply others need to know,” said Bristow. “I consider this an honor earned by those who kept this story alive for decades and decades.”

The Book of the Year Award goes to the best book on a subject related to Mississippi history or biography published during the previous year. The prize carries a $700 cash award.

Bristow will accept the award and deliver a lecture during the 2021 Mississippi Historical Society Annual Meeting, which will be held virtually on Friday, March 5. Register online for the free conference. Copies of Bristow’s book can be purchased from the Mississippi Museum Store.

The Mississippi Historical Society, founded in 1858, encourages outstanding work in interpreting, teaching, and preserving Mississippi History. Membership is open to anyone; benefits include receiving the Journal of Mississippi History, the Mississippi History Newsletter, and discounts at the Mississippi Museum Store. For information on becoming a member, call 601-576-6856.

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Former Governor William F. Winter, Champion of History, Dies

William F. Winter led the MDAH Board of Trustees for nearly fifty years, making an unmistakable impact on the department and the state.

Winter’s greatest legacy at MDAH was the opening of the Two Mississippi Museums in 2017. Winter helped convince state leaders of the need to build the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, and he was instrumental in securing public and private funds for the project. MDAH director Katie Blount said, “These museums stand at the intersection of William Winter’s greatest passions—history, education, and racial justice. Generations of young people will come here to experience the stories that have shaped our state and nation.”

As Winter said during the opening ceremony, “These museums will challenge all of us to have a better understanding of where we have come from, and then inspire us to work harder to find our common ideals and goals. We will find that we have much more in common than what might appear to divide us.”

William Winter joined the MDAH board in 1957, was elected president in 1969, and served in that role until 2007. During that time, he oversaw the opening of the Eudora Welty House, the restoration of the Old Capitol, and the construction of a state-of-the-art archives building that the state legislature named for him. 

Reuben V. Anderson, president of the MDAH Board of Trustees, recalled, “With his encouragement, MDAH strengthened its focus on African American history in Mississippi, acquiring significant collections of papers, mounting award-winning exhibits, and offering grants for the preservation of sites associated with African American history. Most notably, his close friendship with Myrlie Evers led to her decision to donate the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Collection to MDAH in 2002.”

According to the official obituary, memorial contributions can be made to the Foundation for Mississippi History. Gov. Winter was the leading force behind the opening of the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. His goal was for every Mississippi student to visit these museums at least once. Over the last years of his life, Winter helped raise funds to endow field trips to both museums for schools with limited resources. With his help the Foundation for Mississippi History has raised half of the $4 million endowment to make this possible. Contributions in Winter’s memory can be made to the William Winter Education Fund, FMH, P.O. Box 571, Jackson, MS 39205.

A memorial service will be held once the dangers from COVID-19 abate and it is safe to gather for a service. Condolences to the Winter family may be mailed to P.O. Box 427, Jackson, MS 39205.

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