Archives and Museum

“This Delta” to launch at Delta State Archives

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Photographer Debra L. Ferguson has teamed up with Delta State University Archivist Emily Jones to create “This Delta,” a traveling exhibit of Ferguson’s images of the Mississippi Delta taken over the last 30 years.

The exhibit launches with a special Sunday opening on August 24 at 2 p.m. at the Capps Archives & Museum on Delta State’s campus. The public is invited to the free event, and Ferguson will be in attendance.

“This Delta” features Ferguson’s images with a mixture of words from some of the most notorious and noteworthy writers from the Delta and Mississippi. The exhibit will remain on site for two weeks.

A 1974 graduate of Delta State University, Ferguson works as a magazine and advertising photographer, specializing in agricultural and rural lifestyle subjects. She is also a partner with her husband, Owen Taylor, in AgFax Media, an online agricultural news organization.

Her photography has appeared in Farm Journal, Progressive Farmer, Southern Living Travel and other publications and advertising campaigns. A prolific stock photographer, her images are represented by agencies in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

“Emily and I had a lot of fun creating this exhibit from my images,” said Ferguson. “I left the Delta in the early 1970s, but it was always home. Luckily for me, my family and work assignments kept bringing me back often enough to create a body of work. I’m honored and very excited to share these images, many of which have never been seen.”

Jones, who has collaborated with Ferguson on previous work, is honored to see the kickoff take place at Delta State.

“This has been a labor of love for the both of us,” said Jones. “We first talked about traveling exhibits when we worked together on another exhibit, ‘Vanishing Delta.’”

Ferguson won the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters photography award for “Vanishing Delta” in 2007.

“Ever since then, we have hoped and thought about what an exhibit of her work might look like in a traveling format. Finally, we did it,” added Jones.

“This Delta” is a collection of seven panels with individual titles: Delta Folks, Delta Relics, Going to Town, Nature’s Rhythm, Passing Through, Sacred Spaces and Taming the Land, plus the exhibit’s opening panel.

Laura Walker, Delta State University graphic designer and brand manager, designed the traveling exhibit around Ferguson’s photography. In addition, Mothlite Media, a design agency owned by Laura and Josh Walker, created a website that will be the Delta State Archives’ first online companion to a traveling exhibit. The web aspect of the exhibit will also be launched and shared with the public at the opening reception.

The exhibit will tour Mississippi sites for the first year — from September 2014 through September 2015. After the first year, “This Delta” will be available to tour outside of Mississippi.

“We are keeping the exhibit home-state-bound this first year to thank the Mississippi Humanities Council for their support of this project,” added Jones. “There is still time for future hosting sites. Contact us at the archives if you are interested in hosting the exhibit.”

For those missing the initial exhibit launch, the following Mississippi sites will also be hosting “This Delta:”

  • September 2014 – William Alexander Percy Memorial Library, Greenville
    * October/November 2014 – Tunica Museum, Tunica
    * January/February 2015 – DeSoto County History Museum, Hernando
    * March/April 2015 – Columbus-Lowndes Public Library, Columbus
    * May/June 2015 – Museum of the Mississippi Delta, Greenwood
    * July/August/September 2015 – Rolling Fork, site TBD

To learn more about Delta State’s Archives & Museum, visit Follow Archives on Facebook at

Archives welcomes accomplished writer

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Adrienne Berard, writer in residence for Delta State’s Capps Archives & Museum, will present a lecture to the Bolivar County Historical Society at noon August 11 in the Archives’ seminar room. The public is invited to attend this free event.

Berard is an award-winning journalist based in New York City who will spend the fall at Delta State. Her book “Love and War” was voted one of Amazon’s Best Books of the Year for 2014.

She is a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and Smith College. Her current book project, “When Yellow Was Black: The untold story of the first fight for desegregation in Southern schools,” will be published by Beacon Press in 2015.

Berard is the Archives & Museum’s first writer in residence, where she will focus her efforts on the Mississippi Delta Chinese, and particularly the Gong Lum v. Rice case.

The case is considered the first desegregation case in Mississippi. From the courts in Rosedale, to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1927, the question of access to public education was debated back and forth to allow Martha Lum to continue her education.

“I am incredibly grateful for the chance to explore a forgotten yet vital part of the Delta’s history here at Delta State,” said Berard. “By offering lectures to the public, I hope to shed light on what is normally a very insulated process — the act of writing a book.

“In the coming months, I plan to explore the legacy of Gong Lum while engaging the community in discussions about what it means to be a chronicler of history.”

Berard will be teaching a course this fall, JOU/COM 492, specifically about the Lum case. Students are still able to sign up for the class. poster for jou 492[7]

Delta State Archives has been awarded a Mississippi Humanities grant to support the lecture series and oral history work that Berard will take on this semester.

“The Mississippi Humanities Council offers us the opportunity to examine our mission, prepare a scope of work and then financially support our programs and activities,” said Emily Jones, university archivist. “I am excited to have their support with our first writer in residence and to continue the tradition of collecting oral histories through the Archives.”

Berard will present the following discussions as scheduled:

* Sept. 11 — tales and discoveries from an accidental historian
* Oct. 25 — co-present with Dr. John Jung: field stories, from spoken to written words
* Nov. 13 —making stories from scraps of history: how to use archives for narrative
* Dec. 4 — a reading from Berard’s new book

This program is financially assisted by the Mississippi Legislature through the Mississippi Department of Archives & History and by the Mississippi Humanities Council. Also supporting the program is the Kings Daughter’s & Sons Circle #2 in Greenville.

The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of the MHC, National Endowment for the Humanities, the MDAH or the University of Southern Mississippi.

To learn more about Delta State’s Archives & Museum, visit Follow Archives on Facebook at



Delta State partners with statewide archive project

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The Delta State University Archives Department proudly announces the 2015 Cultural Heritage Digitization Award, a partnership project with the Mississippi Digital Library.

The award is designed to assist institutions with digitization to create accessible collections that represent Mississippi history, have high scholarly value or are at risk in fragile physical condition.

Other participating institutions include: Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Mississippi State University, University of Mississippi and the University of Southern Mississippi.

“The award is one-of-a-kind in the state,” said Emily Jones, Delta State archivist.  “I don’t know of another award that will bring some of the state’s most advanced set of skills in digitization and preservation right to your doorstep for an entire week of training, guidance and support — all for free.”

The partnering organizations will provide digitization and training services to an institution with a significant scholarly resource that is lacking the technical, physical, or human resources needed to complete digitization and/or host the resulting digital collection.

The chosen collection will be digitized and published electronically as part of the Mississippi Digital Library Collections.

The award is open to all institutions within the state whose proposed collection fits the eligibility requirements. Applicants are not limited to an academic library — public libraries, museums, historical societies, research centers, or any other cultural heritage institutions are welcome to apply.

“Anyone who meets the criteria can apply,” added Jones. “My contribution will be to spend a day or more with the winning institution to evaluate their collection, create a digitization plan and help them get started or complete digitizing the target collection.

“This is the first time we have offered an incentive like this to join the MS Digital Library. What we are hoping is that we will be able to attract more collections to the MDL, more contributing organizations and really get Mississippi history online and available worldwide.

“The MDL has been around for several years but it has really been growing these past three years. We want to see that growth continue.”

The award includes: 80 cumulative hours of on-site, archival quality digitization services to be completed over a one week period by the digitization team; a digital collection in the MDL and a digital exhibit featured on the MDL website; a copy of all master and access digital files; and digitization training to aid in future projects.

“It’s an amazing deal. It’s work on the front end for anyone applying but the end result is a streamlined collection, digitized and ready for anyone to view it,” said Jones.  “This project will also put some small organizations on the map — the digital map that is.”

 Learn more about the project at

Chinese Heritage Museum receives grant

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The Mississippi Delta Chinese Heritage Museum (MDCHM) is the recipient of a $7,000 grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA).

Emily Jones, Delta State archivist and ex-officio with MDCHM, was instrumental in securing the grant.

“This award will support New York’s H. T. Chen Dance Company’s performance of ‘South of Gold Mountain’ that will be held at Delta State University in February of 2015 and will coincide with the celebration of Chinese New Year,” said Jones.

Susan Chow, MDCHM treasurer, was present when Jones was notified of the award.

“Thanks to Emily, NEFA recognized the importance of this project,” said Chow. “It’s such an honor to have NEFA support the efforts of MDCHM. This dance presentation is based on historical stories from Chinese in the American South and will offer a great cultural experience.”

For more information about Delta State archives and the Chinese museum, visit

Judge’s collection added to archives

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A number of campus and community members gathered April 25 to celebrate the portrait unveiling of the late Article III U.S. District Judge W. Allen Pepper Jr. at Kent Wyatt Hall on the campus of Delta State University.

Pepper, who resided in Cleveland and was loved by many in the community, passed away suddenly on Jan. 24, 2012.

Pepper’s wife, Virginia “Ginger” Brown, and son, William Allen Pepper III, retired U.S. Senator from Mississippi Trent Lott and federal judges were in attendance for the special ceremony.

Also announced at the event was the Pepper family donation of the judge’s professional and personal memorabilia to be stored at the Charles W. Capps, Jr. Archives & Museum on Delta State’s campus.

Highlighted items include: birth certificate and baptismal record; manuscript and photographs from Belzoni Elementary through high school years; photographs of family and friends in Belzoni; military records; the University of Mississippi fraternity involvement, baccalaureate and graduation records and photographs; photographs of wedding to Virginia Brown; newspaper clippings announcing law practice; court case decisions; appointment as a federal judge; his mother’s Bible and the Bible from which he taught Sunday School at First United Methodist Church in Cleveland; ski patches from the various ski trips the Pepper family made; posters and notes on the ski competitions Pepper participated in; correspondence between Pepper and fellow lawyers and judges in the district; article manuscript submissions for various publications; framed invitations to U.S. presidential inaugurations (Bush, Clinton and Bush); candid photographs of Pepper with various friends such as Lott and other ranking government officials; commemorative gavels, coffee mugs, plaques and other notable artifacts from Pepper’s philanthropic activities; and full newspapers and clippings related to major accomplishments in Pepper’s career.

Emily Jones, university archivist, was honored to help the Pepper family organize the plethora of items.

“In particular, the Pepper collection represents one of our community’s treasured members,” said Jones. “Within the boxes and folders, mementos and photographs are the stories of lives touches by W. Allen Pepper, Jr. The University Archives and Museum is honored that the Pepper family has donated this collection in our safe keeping.”

The University Archives is home to the following notable political collections: Charles W. Capps Jr.; Walter Sillers Sr. and Jr.; Benjamin Grubb Humphreys; Florence Warfield Sillers; Lucy Somerville Howorth; Representative Hainon Miller; and Charles Clark.

“I know the significance of a collection such as this being added to the archives at Delta State,” said Jones. “We have several collections in house related to politicians and lawyers — but to have a collection of papers from a judge of this caliber is something we are definitely honored to add.”

Pepper, who worked at the U.S. Courthouse in Greenville, was appointed to the position of U.S. District Judge in 1999 by then President Bill Clinton. His portrait will permanently hang at the Greenville courthouse.

While Pepper did not complete his education at Delta State, he was a long time supporter and friend of the university. He was a graduate of The University of Mississippi, where he was a member of the Sigma Nu Fraternity and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1963.

He received his Juris Doctor degree from The University of Mississippi School of Law in 1968 and maintained a solo law practice for 30 years prior to his appointment to the bench.

He also served two years as an officer with the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army.

Along with being an exceptional attorney and judge, Pepper was a dear friend to many in the community and tried to live as an exemplary leader. He served as president of the Lions Club, Crosstie Arts Council and the Bolivar County Ole Miss Alumni Association. Additionally, he was the vice president of the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce and worked with local Cub Scouts as a scout master, Habitat for Humanity, and a number of other community organizations.

Pepper had long ties with the First United Methodist Church, where he taught Sunday School for 12 years and served as chairman of the Administrative Board, Finance Committee and Pastor Parish Relations Committee.

For more information on the Pepper collection, or Delta State’s Archives & Museum, visit