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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.

Chen Dance Company to perform at Delta State

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Delta State University, the City of Cleveland and the Mississippi Delta Chinese Heritage Museum (MDCHM) announce H.T. Chen Dance Company’s performance of South of Gold Mountain.

Chen Dance Center (CDC), the nation’s largest Asian-American dance institution, announced that H.T. Chen and Dancers’ U.S. tour will kick off Chinese New Year on Saturday, Feb. 21 with a dance-theater event at 2 p.m. in Jobe Auditorium on Delta State’s campus. Open dress rehearsal will be held Feb. 20 at 7 p.m.

In celebration of Chinese New Year, the H.T. Chen Dance Company will be in residency at Delta State from Feb. 16-22. Throughout the week, movement workshops led by Chen Dance Company’s Associate Director Dian Dong and company dancers will include the traditional Chinese Ribbon Dance, contemporary dance and fitness demonstrations.

Delta State Archivist Emily Jones has worked closely on this opportunity and is looking forward to its arrival.

“I have seen our Delta history written about and photographed and even been the muse of songwriters for decades. I am excited to see our history put to dance!,” said Jones.

MDCHM Board President Raymond Wong said, “It’s our great pleasure to welcome H.T. Chen and Dancers to Cleveland. We were honored to be included in their research of Chinese immigrants lured to America by the promise of gold and a better life. The blending of Chinese music with Deep South Blues is amazing, and we’re thrilled to present this Lunar New Year gift to you.”

A meet-the-artist reception and audience Q&A will be held post-performance Saturday, Feb. 21. It will be moderated by Frieda Quon, associate professor emeritus at Delta State, Gilroy Chow, MDCHM board member and President Wong. Lunar New Year refreshments will be provided through support from the Chinese American Citizens Alliance’s Mississippi Lodge.

For reserved tickets, contact Emily Jones at archives@deltastate.edu or call 662.846.4781. Because of generous grants and donor support, this performance is provided to the public free of charge. However, a donation can be made to support future programming and the growing museum located within the Charles W. Capps, Jr. Archives & Museum building.

“We’re happy to accept donations from these wonderful performances to support the history and heritage of the MS Delta Chinese,” said Wong.

H.T. Chen and Dancers performs innovative pieces blending contemporary dance with traditional Asian aesthetics. For more information, visit www.chendancecenter.org/

The Mississippi Delta Chinese Heritage Museum promotes local heritage preservation by actively collecting for future generations the oral histories, memorabilia, photographs and textiles related to the history and accounts of the Mississippi Delta Chinese immigration and settlement. The collection is located at Capps Archive & Museum building and is free and open to the public.

This project was made possible by a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council, through support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the Mississippi Humanities Council.

Civil rights photos to exhibit at archives

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Following the debut at Tougaloo College, the photographs of the late Jim Lucas of Jackson, Miss. will be exhibited at Delta State University’s Charles W. Capps, Jr. Archives & Museum building.

The exhibit opens Feb. 9 and will run through March 31, coinciding with Delta State University’s Winning the Race conference.

On Feb. 16, Dr. Robert C. Luckett will deliver his lecture “The Mississippi Plan and the Rise of Jim Crow” during the noon hour in the Lucy Somerville Howorth Seminar Room.

The exhibition’s curator, Jane Hearn, will deliver a gallery talk on March 30 at 1 p.m. as a part of the pre-conference offerings for the WTR conference. These events are free and the public is encouraged to attend.

Through a generous grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council and funding provided by the conference committee, the exhibit is free and open to the public Monday–Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Lucas, a student during the early 1960s, progressed from carrier boy to photographer and lab man for the local newspaper. In 1959, at the age of 14, his first photo was published in the Jackson Daily News.

His craft with the camera led him to take photographs during his years at Murrah High School and Millsaps College, where with photojournalistic style he was as much school documentarian as he was student.

In 1964 Lucas was a student at Millsaps when the nation was focused on Mississippi and the search for Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney, civil rights workers missing in Neshoba County.

During those turbulent times these events drew national press to Jackson and Lucas had the opportunity to meet and assist film cameramen from CBS News. Using his still camera he tried never to miss a visual story of his own, and soon became a “stringer” for UPI and Time and Life magazines.

In 1968, Lucas was drafted and spent his basic training in the Army at Fort Campbell, Ky., followed by special training in the Army Signal Corps at Fort Monmouth, N.J. During his deployment in Vietnam he shot non-combat footage for the Army, gaining experience and commitment for his future career as a film cameraman.

In 1969 he was distinguished by the Department of Defense as the Military Newsfilm Motion Picture Photographer of the Year.

Upon his return to Jackson in 1973, he pursued a variety of freelance film jobs including commercial advertising, football filming and freelance newsreel work for UPI and NBC. A highlight of his career was shooting several stories for “60 Minutes.” His first job on a feature film was Robert Altman’s “Thieves Like Us” as an electrician, and his goal became to work on feature films as a director of photography.

The next years of his career included television and feature film work, almost always outside of Mississippi, including films such as “Honeysuckle Rose,”  “The Long Riders,” “Brubaker” and  “The Border.”

Lucas became known for the excellence of his technical ability and advanced to camera operator and second unit director of photography. While on location with the film “Barbarosa,” he was in a fatal automobile accident and died Oct. 19, 1980.

The Lucas Collection includes an extensive number of negatives, prints, personal narratives and a cache of memorabilia. The exhibit at Tougaloo is a sample of images Lucas made during the civil rights movement including events such as the James Meredith March for Freedom in 1966, the Wharlest Jackson funeral in Natchez in 1967, and the Senate Hearings to Evaluate Poverty in Jackson in 1967 with the subsequent trip by Senator Robert Kennedy to the Mississippi Delta.

The exhibit was created and curated by Hearn, who was married to Lucas at the time of his death. Red Morgan, photojournalist and commercial still photographer, provided additional direction. Their ongoing collaboration aims to archive Lucas’ extensive collection, and pay tribute to a passionate and skillful young photographer who grasped the significance of the events around him and conveyed his point of view in sensitive visual language.

This project was made possible by a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council, through support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the Mississippi Humanities Council.

To schedule a tour of the exhibit, contact the University Archivist, Emily Jones at 662-8464780 or e-mail ejones@deltastate.edu.

 

 

Delta Chinese: Reflections & Reunion — Oct. 24-25

By | Alumni, Archives and Museum, Community, Faculty/Staff | No Comments

Before big railroad companies forged the length of the interior of the Mississippi Delta, a group of sojourners found themselves in the midst of this alluvial plain, enticed by the stories and promises of “Gold Mountain.”

By 1870, approximately 400 Chinese laborers landed in New Orleans with a small core of that number finding their way to the upper Mississippi Delta to work in agriculture. Life was not easy for these first immigrants, but they worked hard and found that they could and would make the Delta “home.”

Learn more about the legacy of Chinese immigration in the Delta by attending Delta Chinese: Reflections & Reunion at Delta State University and the city of Cleveland’s Martin & Sue King Railroad Heritage Museum this Friday and Saturday.

A series of lectures and events will be held at the Mississippi Delta Chinese Heritage Museum at the Charles W. Capps, Jr. Archives and Museum on campus and the train museum. Scheduled speakers include Susie Jeu Tonymon, Ted Gong, Martin Gold, Gwen Gong, Adrienne Berard and John Jung.

Topics of interest will include a family’s journey from southern China to southern Arkansas, the 1882 Chinese exclusion laws, Mississippi Chinese WWII veterans, the Gong Lum vs. Rice civil rights case and an author’s perspective of the Mississippi Delta Chinese.

“This reunion is a celebration of Chinese Americans who have their roots in the Mississippi Delta,” said Raymond Wong, president of the Mississippi Delta Chinese Heritage Museum board. “Unlike Chinese Americans from (other) parts of the United States, the Chinese from Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas share a unique bond because of their Southern heritage and upbringing.

“There is a connectivity and camaraderie even if you have left the South. Everyone is invited to come join in the fun and reunion.”

Friday’s first lecture will begin at 9:30 a.m. in Jobe Hall and will feature the personal stories of Tonymon, whose family made the journey from Southern China to Southern Arkansas. Tonymon will present her memories “as a child growing up between the devastating Mississippi River flood of 1927 and the depression years of the 1930s, and how we endured the tragedies of both World War II and the Korean War — as we experienced life in the segregated South.”

The second session, beginning at 10:45 a.m., will feature Gold, author of “Forbidden Citizens: Chinese Exclusion and the U.S. Congress: A Legislative History,” and Gong, founder and executive director of the 1882 Project Foundation, who will speak about the legacy of America’s Chinese exclusion laws.

The final lecture session Friday will begin at 1:45 p.m. and feature stories from Delta native, Gwen Gong. Gong is the author of six books and has been the founding and chief editor of the Asian Journal of English Language Teaching, an international journal, for the past 20 years.

Friday’s lecture series will culminate with a ribbon cutting for two new wings of the Mississippi Delta Chinese Heritage Museum, located on the third floor of the Capps Archives. The museum features a full size replica of a Chinese grocery and offers a unique view into the history and daily lives of the Delta’s Chinese residents.

The new additions to the museum will showcase the vital role that the Delta Chinese played in shaping Mississippi’s educational landscape and the heroic efforts of Delta Chinese veterans. A reception will be held at the Martin & Sue King Railroad Heritage Museum following the ribbon cutting.

Saturday’s lectures will begin at 10 a.m. at the H.L. Nowell Student Union and feature Jung, author of four books on the Chinese American experience, including a memoir titled “Southern Fried Rice: Life in A Chinese Laundry in the Deep South.” Journalist Adrienne Berard, who is the scholar in residence at Delta State will also be featured. Berard’s current book project on Rosedale’s Gong Lum v. Rice case was awarded the J. Anthony Lukas Work-In-Progress Award by Harvard University.

Both of Saturday’s lectures are free and open to the public. The museum, including its two new additions, will be open to the public from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday.

To learn more about this event and to register, visit www.deltastate.edu/chineseheritage.

*Special appreciation to Dr. and Mrs. Tony Chan for their financial contribution, which has initiated the Chinese Reunion. This program is financially assisted by the Mississippi Legislature through the Mississippi Department of Archives & History and by the Mississippi Humanities Council. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of the Mississippi Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mississippi Department of Archives & History or the University of Southern Mississippi.

“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 www.deltastate.edu/academics/libraries/university-archives-museum. Follow Archives on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Delta-State-University-Archives-Museum/149608545092356.