Series VII of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Collection (PI/2010.0002) consists of 3,269 black-and-white and color prints of general photographs located in the files of Farm Bureau Public Affairs staff Austin McMurchy and Ed Blake. This series contains an assortment of photographs on a variety of topics over several decades including: civic and social activities; crops, farms and farm enterprises; county co-ops; local, state and national politicians; and safety training initiatives.
This post is part of an ongoing series, “Time and Tide: Ten Years after Katrina.” Special thanks to Nan Prince, Museum Division, for writing this post.
Mississippi has been without a state history museum since Hurricane Katrina passed through Jackson on August 29, 2005, when high winds ripped off part of the Old Capitol Museum’s copper roof. With the roof peeled back like a banana, rainwater drenched the second and third floors of the museum’s south side, including exhibit areas and a collection storage room filled with artifacts.
MDAH staff arrived the morning of August 30 and immediately began pulling artifacts out of the wet collection storage room and exhibit areas and laid them out to dry in other areas of the museum. Approximately 3,200 affected artifacts, including a large collection of Civil War battle flags and more than 100 Choctaw baskets, were moved to dry areas of the building, and several large dehumidifiers were placed throughout the Old Capitol to lower the humidity.
During the next several weeks, staff assessed each affected artifact for damage. Approximately 250 damaged artifacts were sent to conservators. Almost $88,000 was spent on artifact conservation with financial assistance coming from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Mississippi Humanities Council, and FEMA. All 12,000 artifacts in the collection were moved out of the Old Capitol and placed in temporary storage.
In addition to the extensive water damage to plaster walls and ceilings, the Old Capitol’s oak floors and twin spiral staircases were damaged. Katrina exacerbated existing problems with the building, including rising dampness, poor foundation, cracked walls and limestone, and other structural issues.
In 2006 the Mississippi Legislature passed a $14 million bond bill for the full restoration of the Old Capitol and the design and fabrication of the exhibits. The “new” Old Capitol Museum opened in early 2009 and hosted the opening day of the Mississippi Legislature. Built in 1839, the Old Capitol building served as the seat of state government until a new capitol building was built in 1903. It then served as a state office building until it was renovated in 1961 and became the home of the state history museum for the next 45 years. Today the Old Capitol Museum interprets the history of the building and contains exhibits on government and historic preservation.
A new Museum of Mississippi History is currently under construction along with the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and will open in December of 2017 in celebration of the state’s bicentennial. After an absence of twelve years, Mississippi will again have a state history museum.
This month marks the tenth anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Katrina, the greatest natural disaster the United States has ever experienced. On August 29, 2005, the storm exploded into Mississippi, killing hundreds of people and forever changing the state’s cultural landscape. Hurricane Katrina devastated the historical fabric of the Gulf Coast and cut a swath of destruction 150 miles inland. Museums, libraries, government records, and historic buildings were all badly damaged.
The Mississippi Department of Archives and History has been involved in recovery operations since the day after the hurricane made landfall. This blog series will explore the department’s role in recovery efforts and MDAH collections that document the storm.
MDAH archivist Ashley Koostra unearthed this intriguing photograph in the unprocessed collection of Sidney T. Roebuck, Highway Commissioner of the Central District. It shows a railroad crossing signal built at an Illinois Central crossing near Grenada around 1940. W.A. Billups designed the signal, “embodying an appeal to the sense of hearing through piercing sirens and an appeal to the sense of sight through the illumination of neon signs depicting the word ‘Death,’ ‘Stop,’ and the skull and crossbones.” The arrows indicated the direction of the train.
See the signal in action in a simulation posted to YouTube, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGhFHKtDhns.
Winona Times, October 4, 1940
Illinois Central Magazine (April 1941), page 22
MDAH archivists found this photograph from the 1972 College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, showing the University of Mississippi versus the University of Texas.