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Explore Magnolia State's 200-Year History With This Ole Miss Exhibit

Hop aboard the journey through the last 200 years that has made the Magnolia State what it is today. The Department of Archives and Special Collections, which is located inside the J.D. Williams Library on the Ole Miss campus, presents a celebration of all things Mississippi. From it’s founding in 1817 to modern day, discover what’s within the rich culture of the state of Mississippi.

Director of the Department of Archives and Special Collections, Dr. Jennifer Ford, said that “the variety of materials, maps, transcriptions of folk songs, records from Elvis, campaign memorabilia, documents of boundaries, documents related to social movements, textbooks through the years and descriptions of who’s who in Mississippi,” are just a few of the reasons one should explore such a fascinating exhibit.
The exhibit showcases Mississippi history as a whole, shining a light on documents, people and books that may have been forgotten, but are vital to our history. 
“We didn’t shy away from the negative,” Ford said. 
Take Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, for example. The “Black Swan,” Greenfield’s nickname, was an opera singer in the mid-1800s. She was born a slave in Natchez, Mississippi, but was adopted by a Philadelphia Quaker as an infant. She was world renowned for her singing and performing in prominent cities such as New York City, Boston and London. In fact, she was the first black person to sing before the Queen of England.
One can also find maps dating as far back as 1820, distinguishing the area of Mississippi and surrounding states. These maps provide an outlook on the progression of civilization through the years. As observers walk from case to case, they will see how the Magnolia State began taking shape and differing from the bordering states. The last few maps demonstrate the current outlook of Mississippi with all the counties and highways.

Dr. Jennifer Ford, director of The Department of Archives and Special Collections, explains the significance of historic documents of the Bicentennial Exhibit, which will remain open to the public throughout the year. 

After contemplating her favorite pieces, Ford said, “The evolution of the geographic state: what went on from the time the state was established and what it took for Mississippi to become a state.”
First conceptualized about a year ago, four curators spent six months ciphered through thousands of documents and books that reside in the library’s archives. Unlike most Special Collections exhibits, the curators decided not to set up the exhibit in a chronological manner but in a thematic system. After much deliberation, the exhibit was formed including political, geographical, musical and historical pieces.
Along with the collection, there is a lecture series that corresponds. The video series highlights a theme from the exhibit while one of the curators discusses the pieces that support that theme. A video will be posted each month and can be found on YouTube. 
Mississippi Folklore (January) Video: 

Coming Soon:
State-wide events are going on throughout the year, one being a concert from the 1817 choir on June 24 in Oxford. 
Follow the blog “This Week in Mississippi History” as week by week, a piece in the collection is highlighted and discussed.
The exhibit can be found at The Department of Archives and Special Collections, which is on the third floor of the J.D. Williams Library.
The Department of Archives and Special Collections is open from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
For more information, contact Jennifer Ford at 662-915-7408.


By Nick Bushart, an intern for HottyToddy.com and a student of the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. He can be reached at nabushar@go.olemiss.edu
For questions or comments, email hottytoddynews@gmail.com.

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