In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act, we are highlighting one of the most pivotal music-related National Register sites in the state, Dockery Farms. Listed as a National Register District for its contributions to social and agricultural history, Dockery Farms is located in the Mississippi Delta outside of Ruleville in Sunflower County. It was here that Charley Patton lived, worked, and met his musical mentor Henry Sloan, who is attributed by Robert Palmer in his 1981 Deep Blues with teaching Patton what we now know as traditional country blues arrangements.

Dockery

Many other blues legends lived on or frequented Dockery including “Willie Brown, Son House, Robert Johnson, Roebuck ‘Pops’ Staples, and Howlin’ Wolf.”(Lester, 2006, Sec.8, p.10) You can read the National Register nomination https://www.apps.mdah.ms.gov/nom/dist/194.pdf written in 2006 by William Lester, executive director of the Dockery Farms Foundation.

While places of birth, death, and internment are generally considered ineligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, many of the state’s significant music sites are recognized as contributing elements to the overall historical significance of districts added to the National Register.

Learn more about Mississippi’s National Register of Historic Places and , including music related sites by  visiting MDAH’s Historic Resources Inventory Database http://www.apps.mdah.ms.gov/Public/search.aspx.

DeSoto National Forest Chickasawhay Division, Mississippi, St. Stephens meridian. Call number:  MA/2002.0182 (b) MDAH

DeSoto National Forest Chickasawhay Division, Mississippi, St. Stephens meridian. Call number: MA/2002.0182 (b) MDAH

Find census data, surveys of the Natchez Trace and Mississippi River, and more in these interesting maps from the MDAH collection. Click the title to view the map and “link to the catalog” to view its catalog record.

U.S. Census, 1930. Call number: MA/2002.0097 (b) Link to the catalog. 

Mississippi minor civil divisions, 1930. Call number: MA/2002.0099 (b) Link to the catalog. (Shows counties, county seats, and county supervisor beats.)

Map of the state of Mississippi showing the educational institutions, industries, products, places of historic interest and highroads of travel and commerce, c.1936. Call number: MA/2002.0113 (b) Link to the catalog.

General Plan Natchez Trace Parkway, 1937. Call number: MA/2002.0115 (b) Link to the catalog.

Preliminary Natchez Trace Parkway Survey, 1940. Call number: MA/2002.0135 (b) Link to the catalog.

Big Sunflower, Little Sunflower, and Quiver rivers, and Deer Creek, Steele Bayou, and Bogue Phalia, Mississippi recommended improvements, 1944. Call number: MA/2002.0246 (b) Link to the catalog.

Map of Greater Cleveland, Mississippi, 1972. Call number: MA/2002.0251 (b) Link to the catalog.

DeSoto National Forest Chickasawhay Division, Mississippi, St. Stephens meridian, 1964. Call number: MA/2002.0182 (b) Link to the catalog. (pictured above)

Survey of the approaches to Fort Hindman, Arkansas Post, captured by the U.S. Mississippi Squadron, January 11th 1863 showing the position of the gunboats during the attack, (1962). Call number: MA/92.0148 (c) Link to the catalog.

Western territories [1876]. Call number: MA/92.0151 (c) Link to the catalog.

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Digitized Maps from the Collection

On December 6, 2012, in Digital Archives, Maps, by Amanda
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Auto road map of Mississippi, side 2. Call number: MA/2002.0240 (a) MDAH Collection

Auto road map of Mississippi, side 2. Call number: MA/2002.0240 (a) MDAH Collection

These maps were recently digitized and made available online:

Clarksdale special map, 1907. Call number: MA/2002.0258(c) MDAH. Link to the catalog.

Farm and timber land for sale in the famous Yazoo-Mississippi Delta, Mississippi, U.S.A., 1904. Call number: MA/2002.0259(c) MDAH. Link to the catalog.

Auto road map for Mississippi, 1924. Call number: MA/2002.0240(a) MDAH. Link to the catalog.

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Mississippi River front wharf, Memphis, 190-. PI/COL/1982.0058, sysid 104354 (MDAH Collection)

Mississippi River front wharf, Memphis, 190-. PI/COL/1982.0058, sysid 104354 (MDAH Collection)

The Charles Coovert Collection is now available online. It features thirty-eight black and white photographs of scenes of the cotton industry in Greenville, Mississippi, and Memphis, Tennessee. To view the collection, please visit the MDAH online catalog and search for “PI/COL/1982.0058″

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March is Women’s History Month so we will be showcasing exceptional Mississippi women and related collections on the blog.

"June 1986 at Caroline Benoist's Home, 410 S. Union, Natchez, Miss." Edna Roberts and Caroline Benoist look at photo albums and reminisce about their times as Public Health Nurses. Call Number: PI/2001.0008, item 4 (MDAH Collection)

"June 1986 at Caroline Benoist's Home, 410 S. Union, Natchez, Miss." Edna Roberts and Caroline Benoist look at photo albums and reminisce about their times as Public Health Nurses. Call Number: PI/2001.0008, item 4 (MDAH Collection)

Caroline Benoist (1896-2000) was a public health nurse and educator. Benoist did not begin working as a public health nurse until 1936, but the occupation itself began in Mississippi around 1915, when the American Red Cross and National Tuberculosis Association jointly sponsored nurses in several Mississippi counties. In 1920, the Red Cross persuaded the Mississippi Board of Health to place a state nurse in their offices to facilitate statewide public health nursing activities. The state nurse determined that maternal and child care, tuberculosis, and communicable disease were the most pressing health problems in the state. Public health nurses were then dispatched to both care for and educate Mississippians about these health issues. The new Public Health Nursing office soon focused much of its efforts on maternal care. It produced the Manual for Midwives in 1922 and thereafter sent out public health nurses around the state to train lay midwives and conduct classes and clinics.1

Maternal and child health were areas in which Caroline Benoist specialized as a public health nurse. A Natchez native, Benoist acquired extensive education and training at several institutions, including Miami University (Ohio), Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, and Vanderbilt University.2 She returned to Mississippi in 1936 to work as a public health nurse in Sunflower County. Benoist said, “I’d never even been to the Delta before, but I liked the Delta, even though the experience was quite different for me. I wasn’t young, but I had always worked indoors. I had worked in Baltimore, but never outdoors.”3

Benoist conducted classes on hygiene and nutrition for local people. She described these “shade tree clinics,” saying:

After we got the plantation people interested and educated, we conducted shade tree conferences, with little folding tables and chairs. We actually took our clinics to the plantation, and hundreds of people would come. While the secretary wrote the patient cards, we nurses would give the shots. The need was so great; we saw vicious typhoid, polio, and an awful lot of VD.4

In addition to the conferences, Benoist designed various items that people could build themselves. Examples of a baby incubator, crib, and potty that she designed are now in the MDAH Museum Division Collection. They were donated by her colleague Edna Roberts, former director of nursing at the Department of Health, in 2001.

Incubator designed by Caroline Benoist. Accession Number: 1990.46.1 (Museum Division Collection)

Incubator designed by Caroline Benoist. Accession Number: 1990.46.1 (Museum Division Collection)

Benoist’s work took her to the front lines of the struggle to improve Mississippi’s health outcomes. She faced many challenges but met them with energy and compassion. The tradition of education and prevention established by Benoist and other public health nurses improved the health of Mississippians in the 1930s and continues to have an impact on healthcare today.

Artifacts from the Museum Division collection that are not on exhibit are available for viewing by appointment. Please contact Nan Prince, Assistant Director of Collections, by email to schedule an appointment.


1 Margaret Morton and Edna R. Roberts, with Kaye W. Bender, Celebrating Public Health Nursing: Caring for Mississippi’s Communities with Courage and Compassion, 1920-1993 (Jackson: Mississippi State Department of Health), excerpt at “1920-1929: Beginnings and Focus of Public Health Nursing in Mississippi,” Mississippi State Department of Health, accessed March 2, 2012, http://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/4,10786,204,493.html.

2 Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry, “Caroline Benoist Collection: Biographical Information,” University of Virginia School of Nursing, accessed March 2, 2012, http://www.nursing.virginia.edu/research/cnhi/collection/individual/benoist/.

3 Office of Public Relations, Mississippi State Department of Health, “Claim to Title V Funds ‘Poignantly Justifiable,’” Mississippi’s Health 3, no. 2 (Summer 1986), 6-7 [on file with MDAH Museum Division].

4 Ibid., 8.

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