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Bits and Bytes in Bolivar: Discovering Your Local History Resources

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Join Delta State University at the Charles W. Capps, Jr. Archives and Museum on Sept. 14 at noon for “Bits and Bytes in Bolivar: Discovering Your Local History Resources,” a presentation designed to help researchers of local history and genealogy locate physical and digital documents related to Bolivar County.

The event, free and open to the public, is in conjunction with the Bolivar County Historical Society’s monthly meeting.

The 45-minute presentation will feature Krista Sorenson and Catherine Bell, archivists with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the Bolivar County Historical Society. Areas of focus will include county records, maps and images.

“As archivists, we work really hard to collect and organize historical information,” said Jones. “The flip side of that work is that we want people to be able to use it and find it helpful. The Internet has opened the door wide to allow us to push mounds of primary source information out to a waiting public, however, for a user, that can feel like trying to drink from a fire hydrant. Krista Sorenson and Catherine Bell are coming our way to help us all become more familiar with what history is out there on our county, how to find it, access it and use it in our daily research quests.”

Jones said that when it was decided to bring the Bolivar County Historical Society back online several years ago, one of the group’s main concerns was how information was being shared about the Delta, and how accurate that information was. She urged that users have to be very aware of their information sources and their credibility.

The event will direct users to credible sources with a wealth of information on Bolivar County’s history.

“I hope that those who attend next Monday’s BCHS sponsored program discover answers to questions they’ve always wanted to know,” added Jones. “Perhaps they’ll be inspired to share local history they already know through blogging or making a donation to a repository of their choice. Most of all, we want to demonstrate how historical information is becoming more and more accessible.”

Visit the university’s Archives and Museum to learn about historical records, digital images and genealogical resources available in Bolivar County, online and from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Explore the archives’ website at http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/libraries/university-archives-museum. For more information, contact Jones at 662-846-4781 or ejones@deltastate.edu.

90th anniversary of Delta State Teachers College

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Delta State Teachers College welcomed its first students to campus for a summer institute 90 years ago today. The students at the institute were teachers taking review work for certification purposes.

Delta State Teachers College was not officially in operation, but members of the institute faculty included some who would be on the regular college staff in September, with President James W. Broom as the director.

The faculty for the institute included James W. Broom, director; J.C Windham, local director and algebra instructor; William Marion Kethley, education and history instructor; Callie Maffett, primary methods and supervisor of play instuctor; Annie Caulfeild, English instructor; Albert Leon Young, social sciences and general sciences instructor; B.P. Brooks, plane and solid geometry and hygiene instructor; G.B. Sanders, review work instructor; and Jane Figg, history and physical education instructor.

The summer normal was not part of the regular school and provided no credit toward a degree at Delta State. Delta State Teachers College opened its doors officially on Sept. 15, 1925.

“With another class of Teach For America students visiting campus, it seems timely to celebrate this anniversary,” said Emily Jones, university archivist. “Since before the doors officially opened as an educational institution, Delta State teachers were reaching out to the community to ensure students had the best possible education accessible.”

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.