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Long featured speaker at Cranford Lecture

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Delta State University is gearing up for the 18th annual Sammy O. Cranford Memorial History Lecture on April 27 at 7 p.m. in Jobe Hall Auditorium.

This year’s lecturer is Dr. Alecia Long from Louisiana State University. Her talk is entitled “The Trouble with Tight Pants: New Orleans, Homosexuality and the Search for Conspiracy in the Assassination of JFK.” A reception will follow her lecture.

The Cranford Lecture is sponsored by the Delta State Division of Social Sciences and History and is supported by a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council. This event honors the life of Dr. Sammy Orren Cranford, longtime history professor and archivist at Delta State. This event is free and open to the public.

“The Cranford Lecture is always a great opportunity to host scholars and experts in various historical topics,” said Chuck Westmoreland, assistant professor of history at Delta State. “Students, faculty, staff and the community at large will be treated to an outstanding talk by Dr. Alecia Long from LSU.”

“Dr. Long will be discussing a topic of great interest that has received much ink and remains so important to our national historical memory,” he added. “Her work, though, looks at the JFK assassination from new and exciting angles. This project contributes not only to our understanding of this national tragedy, but also to a growing historical scholarship on the politics of gender and sexuality.”

For more information on the Sammy O. Cranford Memorial History Lecture, contact Westmoreland at cwestmoreland@deltastate.edu. There is also a Facebook page for the lecture: https://www.facebook.com/cranfordlecture.

Previous lecturers include: 1998, John Marzalek; 1999, John Ray Skates; 2000, James Cobb; 2001, Martha Swain; 2002, Lawrence Nelson; 2003, Nan Woodruff; 2004, David Sansing; 2005, Charles Reagan Wilson; 2006, James Hollandsworth; 2007, Elbert Hilliard; 2008, Larry Griffin; 2009, William LaForge; 2010, Chris Myers Asch; 2011, Charles Eagles; 2012, George Rable; 2013, Jeannie Whayne; and 2014, Tim Huebner.

Those interested in following news related to the History Department at Delta State are encouraged to like the program’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-History-Program-at-Delta-State/114699821965257.

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 http://www.msdiglib.org.

Kerr donates images to Archives

By | Archives and Museum, Delta Center | No Comments

Photographer Jane Robbins Kerr recently donated several collections of her original works of photography to Delta State University’s Archives & Museum. Through her gift of photographs, she demonstrates her faith in Delta State and the University Archive’s mission to preserve Mississippi Delta heritage.

After traveling for many years photographing people and places around the world, Kerr, a native of Jackson, came back to Mississippi to rediscover home through the lens of her camera. Spending most of her adult life in Atlanta as a painter, writer and storyteller, she now tells her story through her photos extensively in the rural South.

She once reflected, “Some days time seems to stand still, as I discovered when I journeyed home after traveling the world for years. What I had dismissed in my younger days, I was now drawn to — the remembered South of home, old churches, stores and warehouses and in the people and friends that still exist in memories we share.”

Kerr has shared her love for Mississippi and travels abroad with the Delta and its residents for years through exhibitions hosted in museums across the Southeast. Her photography is as unique as her vivacious character. “I shoot from the hip. No F-stops or fumbling with lights for me. I just capture the moment. I capture life,” she once told a class of students while touring one of her exhibits.

Now she is sharing her gift with Delta State. It was her relationships with University Archivist Emily Jones and Delta Center for Culture & Learning director Dr. Luther Brown that were instrumental in her decision to donate her pieces.

“Jane’s work is special and it is all her. I love her photographs and her titles,” said Jones. “She is enthusiastic and compassionate and loves the space around her. You can see all of this in the photographs she takes. This is an excellent and valuable piece for archives to be able to offer researchers proof positive images from an area and a specific time in history.”

For more information on Delta State’s Archives & Museum, visit www.deltastate.edu/academics/libraries/university-archives-museum.





World War II: Mission VICTORY – Fighting the Air War

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The exhibit features selections primarily from the privately held collection of George R. Frisbee. Additional pieces are on loan from Clint Johnson. Mission VICTORY – The War in the Air chronicles America’s involvement in World War II from Pearl Harbor to the last days of war and its lasting affects on the world. Mr. Frisbee has painstakingly recreated a B-17G-70-BO named the “Milk Wagon.” This plane flew with the 708th Bomb Squadron, 447th Bomb Group at Rattlesden Air Base in England and was ready for its first mission on 21 June 1944 to Berlin. Pieces such as this with historic detail provide the basis for the exhibit. Among the photographs of nose art, soldier’s letters and historic documentation on the United State’s war efforts are four fully dressed mannequins wearing original and period specific flight crew suits and uniforms. From the helmets and gloves to the boots, these mannequins provide the opportunity for visitors to see what our soldiers were equipped with to face battles. Also on display is a tribute to Frisbee’s father, who served as a mechanic in World War II. The exhibit will be on display until 24 January 2014. For group or individual tours, please contact the University Archives at 662.846.4781. George Frisbee is available to give guided tours of the exhibit as well.

man with time capsule contents at Delta State Archives

Time capsule housed at University Archives

By | Archives and Museum | No Comments

The University Archives at Delta State is the new home to treasures recovered from a time capsule planted by a philanthropic organization in 1937.

Archivist Emily Jones understands that preservation is a shared responsibility and shares the history of the group and the capsule.

“On Sept. 14, 1915, the philanthropic organization of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows chartered a lodge in Greenville, Mississippi.  Actually, this was the second lodge chartered in the town; the first lodge had organized in the late 1860’s or 1870’s but was compelled to surrender its charter in 1912,” said Jones. “In 1937, the Odd Fellows Washington County Lodge No. 258 proposed to dedicate a time capsule to their reincarnation.  Placing the capsule inside the cornerstone of their newly constructed building on South Poplar between Main and Center, the dedication included a grand ceremony with Mayor Milton Smith delivering the principal address.”

More history on the Independent Order of Odd Fellows can be found at http://www.ioof.org/aboutus.html.

Almost 75 years later, the Odd Fellows’ building fell into disrepair and the cornerstone was removed.  The Woodmen of the World organization had occupied office space in the building along with other organizations into the mid-1960’s.  Given their association with the building, the Woodmen were first approached by the building owner, Phil Vazzana, who offered the cornerstone to their membership.  Recognizing the significance and history of the gift, the Woodmen, in particular Travis Ferguson, Sr., organized a program to reveal the contents of the time capsule inside the cornerstone. The public was invited to attend.

With great care, Ferguson pulled the metal box from the concrete of the cornerstone and revealed the history which had been held inside for over 70 years.  Newspapers, envelopes bearing the official markings of the Odd Fellows organization and letterhead with notes of membership and leadership roles were among the treasures preserved.  The crowd was invited to view and read the materials on display, and history was returned to the community.

Ferguson wished to continue to honor the Odd Fellows and contacted the Greenville Public Library Director Kay Clanton for advice.  Clanton advised Ferguson to contact the Delta State University Archives. The time capsule treasures are now safely deposited in the Archives and Museum at Delta State for patrons and guests to explore.  From a special day in 1937 to a rainy morning in 2013, these papers have had quite the journey.

“It is with great appreciation for every person involved along the way that the Archives is able to preserve these items.  Thank you Mr. Ferguson for knowing a good home for the papers existed somewhere; thank you Mr. Vazzana for recognizing historic artifacts when you see them; thank you Mrs. Clanton for promoting the preservation capability of the Archives; and thank you Odd Fellows for thinking enough of your history to put together a capsule of your existence for future generations to enjoy.  Together, we preserve our history,” said Jones.

The University Archives and Museum is located in the Charles W. Capps, Jr. Archives and Museum Building and is open for the fall semester Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a closed lunch hour. It is also open on Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. The collections are open to faculty, staff, students, researchers, and the general public. For more information, please visit www.deltastate.edu.