[Mississippi History Newsletter Online.]

A MDAH Publication  |  Volume 45 No. 2  |  February 2003

Rare Elvis Photographs at Old Capitol Museum

Visitors to the Old Capitol Museum will have a chance to see never-before-exhibited photographs of Elvis Presley when ELVIS! Grace and Grit opens Saturday, February 1. The twenty-nine candid and on-the-air photographs taken from the CBS archives document the young Elvis of the late 50s and early 60s.

A special preview party with light refreshments will be held on Friday, January 31, at 6:00 p.m. At 7:00 p.m. the Old Capitol Museum and Crossroads Film Society invite the public to a showing of King Creole, an Elvis movie of roughly the same vintage as the photos. "Elvis was in his swaggering prime here, and this would be the last time he would ever be filmed singing this aggressively and audaciously," writes critic Brad Laid-man about the film. "Everyone says that King Creole was Elvis Presley’s best film…."

In addition, every Saturday in February and March a video documentary, Elvis ’56, will be shown at 1:30 p.m. This 61-minute documentary spotlights Elvis’s rise to stardom in 1956 and features footage from his appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show and other rare footage.

Jackson is the first stop for ELVIS! Grace and Grit, a traveling exhibit circulated by ARTVision Exhibitions, a company providing photographic exhibitions to museums worldwide. The exhibit runs through March 30, 2003. For more information, call the Old Capitol at 601/359-6920.


Pulitzer Prize Winner To Address MHS on "Power of Capitalism"

Mississippi Historical Society president David R. Bowen of Jackson announces that Corinth native Thomas K. McCraw, Pulitzer Prize winner and distinguished professor at the Harvard University Graduate School of Business, will be the Friday night banquet speaker at the Society’s annual meeting in Jackson February 27-March 1. The title of his address is "Creative Destruction and the Power of Capitalism, 1900-1920."

The luncheon speaker will be William C. Allen, architectural historian of the United States Capitol. Allen, who started his career as an architectural historian at MDAH, will discuss the influence of the nation’s capitol building on Mississippi’s capitol. Participants will later tour the state capitol, guided by state capitol architectural historian Alison Hopton Davis, and then the newly restored War Memorial Building, guided by Hap Owen of CommArts, Jackson, designer of new exhibits for the building, and Brig. Gen. Luke Goodwin, executive director, Mississippi National Guard Association.

Other speakers at the 2003 annual meeting will examine the political and social history of the early decades of the twentieth century: Chester "Bo" Morgan, Delta State University; Stephen Cresswell, West Virginia Wesleyan College; Corey T. Lesseig, Waycross College, Waycross, Georgia; and Connie T. Lester, Mississippi State University. In addition, John R. Neff, University of Mississippi, will speak on the topic of Franklin L. Riley, the Ole Miss professor responsible for the revitalization of the Society at the turn of the century.

A welcoming reception at the Governor’s Mansion, the President’s Reception, Awards Brunch, and more await those who attend the MHS annual meeting. To register, visit mdah.state.ms.us or call 601/359-6850.


Black History Month Programs

First- and fourth-grade classes from local and regional schools will travel to Historic Jefferson College, Washington, to learn about African American craftsman Nathan Bennett and the slave Ibrahima on Saturday, February 1, through Friday, February 28. Sessions are free. For more information call 601/ 442-2901.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, February 4 through 27, from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. to noon, fourth- through ninth-grade students can take advantage of Black History programs at the Old Capitol Museum of Mississippi History, Jackson. Reservations are required. For information, call 601/ 359-6920.

Victorian Valentines

Children ages five to twelve are invited to learn about and make Victorian-style valentines on Monday, February 10, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Manship House Museum, Jackson. It’s free, but reservations are required. Call 601/ 961-4724.


Sovereignty Commission Files Online

The files of the State Sovereignty Commission, sealed for over 20 years before being reopened, are available for online search at the MDAH Web site. Until now, researchers had to travel to the Archives and Library Search Room to access the collection.

The Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission was created in March 1956 by an act of the Mississippi Legislature. For seventeen years, from 1956 to 1973, the commission spied on civil rights workers, acted as a clearinghouse for information on civil rights activities and legislation from around the nation, funneled money to pro-segregation causes, and distributed right-wing propaganda.

Although the commission ceased to function in 1973, the agency was not officially dissolved until 1977. In January 1977, Mississippi legislators introduced bills to abolish the commission and authorized its records be sealed at the Department of Archives and History until July 1, 2027. Legal challenges resulted in the bulk of the papers being opened to the public on March 17, 1998. Subsequent releases on July 31, 2000, and January 18, 2001, completed the process and enabled the public to finally have access to the commission’s files in electronic format in the Archives and Library Search Room.


Three Communities Join CLG Program

Three more communities have joined the Certified Local Government program in Mississippi, bringing the total to 29. Lexington was certified on December 20, 2002. Before that Columbia enrolled in the program on October 15 and Carrollton on September 27.

The Certified Local Government (CLG) program is a federal-state-local partnership that permits local governments with historic preservation programs that meet both federal and state standards to participate directly in the national historic preservation program.

The CLG program was designed to permit communities maximum flexibility in dealing with diverse preservation needs and to reward those local governments that have established commissions to address the preservation of their local historic treasures. CLG communities receive special technical assistance and training from Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) staff and may apply for grants-in-aid to undertake historic preservation projects. MDAH annually distributes as CLG grants at least ten percent of the funds received by the State of Mississippi from the U.S. Department of the Interior through the national Historic Preservation Fund. To learn more about the Certified Local Government program, contact Todd Sanders in the Historic Preservation Division, MDAH, 601/359-6940 or visit the Web site.

 


The 80th birthday of William F. Winter will be celebrated in events February 20 at the Old Capitol: “The Future of Race in America” symposium at 2:30 p.m. and reception following at 4:00 p.m. The public is cordially invited.

 

 

Welty House on National Register

The Eudora Welty House has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. In addition, the National Register office is nominating the Eudora Welty House for designation as a National Historic Landmark – a designation indicating exceptional historical significance.

"The Eudora Welty House is especially noteworthy in literary history as the longtime home of Miss Welty and the place where all her significant works were written," said Elbert R. Hilliard, director of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. "National Register listing is an important recognition of Miss Welty’s legacy."

The two-story Tudor Revival-style residence was built in 1924-25 at 1119 Pinehurst Street in Jackson, across the street from the southern border of Belhaven College. In 1986 Welty made the decision that the Department of Archives and History should have her house at her death, and the Department is now working, with the financial support of the Eudora Welty Foundation, to establish the property as a living tribute to Welty, a literary house museum that will interpret her life and work to visitors from around the world.

The National Register is administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior. For more information, visit www.cr.nps.gov/nr/.


Key Civil War Site Saved for Posterity

A key battlefield and site in the Vicksburg Campaign of the Civil War has been transferred to the Natchez Trace Parkway of the National Park Service. The Bailey Farm – formerly the Dillon Plantation – a 470-acre tract in Hinds County, was signed over from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the Department of the Interior on January 9, 2003, in a ceremony at the historic St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Raymond.

MDAH staff documented the historical significance of the property during a routine Section 106 Review (under the National Historic Preservation Act) of the USDA project. USDA then decided to sign the property over to the Interior Department. This site will be preserved and interpreted by the Natchez Trace Parkway as an important component of the Mississippi Civil War Trails project.

Fran P. Mainella, director of the National Park Service, and Lou Gallegos, assistant secretary of Agriculture for Administration spoke at the ceremony, presided over by John L. Nau, III, chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

On May 12, 1863, Generals Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman were headquartered at the Dillon Plantation near Raymond and maneuvering Union forces to capture Vicksburg. A sharp skirmish was fought in the area of the Dillon Plantation that day while the Battle of Raymond raged nearby, as Confederate forces fought desperately to stop the Union assault.

That evening, hearing of the favorable outcome of the Battle of Raymond, the two generals consulted. Grant decided to change the route of the Union troops’ advance and elected to move decisively against Jackson before turning on Vicksburg. This daring decision resulted in the destruction of railroads and war materials in Jackson and forced the retreat of a sizeable Confederate army, preventing it from joining the Vicksburg defense—actions that assured Union success in the Vicksburg campaign and contributed directly to the outcome of the Civil War.


Help MDAH Meet Its Mission

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History, mandated to collect materials related to the history of Mississippi, could have a serious gap in the collection of new materials produced during the current year—and maybe future years. Due to budget woes, the Archives Library has had to eliminate purchases of books for the library collection. MDAH friends are invited to consider providing memorial/honoraria gifts to help the library staff maintain collection needs. Interested individuals can contact collection development librarian Carolyn Woodley, who keeps a "wish list" of titles. NEW BOOKS


MAA Meeting Feb. 21-23

The next meeting of the Mississippi Archaeological Association will be held in Hattiesburg February 21-23 at the Armed Forces Musem, Camp Shelby, and Baymont Inn (601/264-8380). For a complete schedule of the meeting, please visit mdah.state.ms.us.

 


We’re Moving!

Planning is underway for the move MDAH plans to make in May to the new William F. Winter Archives and History Building.

The Charlotte Capers Building, housing the Archives and Library Search Room and MDAH administration, will close at 5 p.m. on Thursday, September 11, to begin the move to the new William F. Winter Archives and History Building. The Reading Rooms will open for research in the new building on Monday, October 27.

  • July 30 - Last day Archives and Library will accept public orders, non-vital mail and email requests

  • September 11 - Charlotte Capers Building closes for move at 5 p.m.

  • September 15 - Administrative offices open to the public in new William F. Winter Archives and History Building

  • October 27 - Reading rooms in new William F. Winter Archives and History Building open for research

  • November 7 - Dedication, new William F. Winter Archives and History Building

     


Mark your calendars now for the first Medgar Evers Lecture March 17 at MDAH, featuring Professor Manning Marable of Columbia University.

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Published by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History • Elbert R. Hilliard, director • Chrissy Wilson, editor
Please send correspondence to: MHN, P.O. Box 571, Jackson, MS 39205 or email to pubinfo@mdah.state.ms.us