Nominations are currently being sought for the 2011 class of the Mississippi Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame honors women and men who made noteworthy contributions to the state. Consideration for the Hall of Fame takes place only once every five years and any Mississippian—native or adopted—deceased at least five years may be nominated. The deadline for nominations is October 1, and elections will be held at a special meeting of the MDAH board of trustees in December. Click here for complete nomination guidelines.

This series recognizes members of the Hall of Fame, whose portraits hang in the Old Capitol Museum. Special thanks to Anna Todd, University of Southern Mississippi student and MDAH summer intern, for researching this post.

Annie Coleman Peyton, Hall of Fame portrait. Accession Number: 1978.91 (Museum Division Collection)

Annie Coleman Peyton, Hall of Fame portrait. Accession Number: 1978.91 (Museum Division Collection)

Annie Coleman Peyton (1852-1898) was a driving force in the establishment of the Mississippi Industrial Institute and College (now Mississippi University for Women), the first land-grant college for women in the country. She was born in Madison County and educated at Whitworth College in Brookhaven, where she taught for two years before marrying E. G. Peyton in 1872.

Beginning in 1879, she petitioned the state legislature to establish a state-funded school for girls at Whitworth College. However, the school would not be chartered until 1884. Columbus was selected as the location because the city offered to house the new school in the former Columbus Female Institute and promised $50,000 for improvements to the facility. Peyton, who was recently widowed, became professor of history at the school and taught there until her death in 1898. Her portrait was presented to the Mississippi Hall of Fame in 1912 by the Mississippi Federation of Women’s Clubs.