SMA’s Virtual Table Talks are one-hour informal discussions to promote the sharing of knowledge between archivists working in Mississippi galleries, libraries, archives, and museums. Each talk will feature a speaker who will share their experience and knowledge on a given topic. For more information on this series, or if you are interested in presenting, please contact Carrie P. Mastley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next Talk: Against All Odds: Telling the Stories of the First Black Legislators in Mississippi, a talk given by DeeDee Baldwin, Karen Burch, and Bianca Ford
The historical record of Mississippi, as with every other state, was largely shaped and preserved by white people to serve a white supremacist version of history. Nationwide, archivists are beginning to engage in archival reparations – that is, the proactive work of finding, restoring, and giving priority to these stories and materials. Dismayed at the difficulty in finding information about the first Black men to serve in Mississippi’s state legislature, MSU history librarian DeeDee Baldwin created “Against All Odds: The First Black Legislators in Mississippi,” a website that brings together these men’s biographies, quotes from secondary sources, and hundreds of newspaper clippings to serve as a kind of virtual vertical file for each figure. In this panel presentation, Baldwin will talk briefly about the purpose and creation of the site, followed by a discussion with Karen Burch (a descendant of George Washington Albright of Marshall County) and Bianca Ford (a descendant of Emanuel Handy of Copiah County) about their ancestors’ accomplishments and legacies and the importance of bringing these stories back to light.
Friday, May 21, 2021
12:00 PM CT
- “We have no leaders, we are all leaders!”: Collecting and Celebrating the 1969 Black Student Sit-In at Delta State College – Carrie Freshour, Ted Fisher, Arlene Sanders, Sykina Butts, Tyler Wells, Michelle Johansen, and Emily Jones (July 31, 2020)
- Community Collaboration: The Margaret Walker Center and the Scott-Ford House, Inc. – Angela D. Stewart and Dr. Alferdteen Harrison (September 25, 2020)
- My Artifact Needs an Agent: How to Celebrate and be a Good Steward of Popular History – Baldwin Chiu, Larissa Lam, and Emily Jones (November 20, 2020)
- “The Burial Ground is Common Ground”: Researching and Presenting The Eighth of May Emancipation Celebration in Columbus, MS – Mona Vance-Ali and Chuck Yarborough (February 26, 2021) – due to technical difficulties, Part 2 with Chuck Yarborough had to be recorded separately
As archivists, there is nothing we take more seriously than preserving history. The history of our state and its people is not found in statues erected to celebrate people and lost causes, but in the brittle paper of bills of sale for enslaved persons, in the diaries and letters of both enslavers and abolitionists, in the memorabilia of civil rights leaders, and in the protest signs of 2020. History is in our state’s archives and libraries, not on the courthouse lawn. History is not in what we choose to glorify in stone but in the records left behind by the people who lived it. For too long, many histories were erased in favor of a vision of white supremacy. As our state lowers its flag with its Confederate symbolism, there is still much more work to be done.
We support calls to remove Confederate monuments from our public spaces. They do not teach history; rather, they represent a false narrative that distorts the truth of racial injustice in this country.
The Board of the Society of Mississippi Archivists
(See also: SMA’s statement on Black Lives and Archives – June 3, 2020)
We, the board of the Society of Mississippi Archivists, condemn in no uncertain terms the systemic violence perpetrated by police officers in this country against the black community and specifically those actions which recently led to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. As archivists, we work to provide access to history. As archivists in Mississippi, the historic material of which we are stewards is frequently disturbing. Often, it is related to the long violent history of government-sanctioned racism against Black Mississippians in our state, from slavery to lynching to Jim Crow. Our collections contain images of Tougaloo College students being attacked at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter in Jackson and images of the bodies of murdered Civil Rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner in Neshoba County. They contain correspondence, photographs, and speeches of segregationists like Governors Theodore Bilbo and Ross Barnett. It is deeply important to collect this history of Mississippi’s troubled past and to continue to ensure access to it. We are wholeheartedly committed to that endeavor. However, as archivists, we realize our place and privilege, many of us at institutions that were formerly segregated, and we acknowledge that archives in Mississippi (and this nation) have failed to provide equal representation and documentation to Black Americans and other communities of color. This is a failure we seek to remedy because the archival record is an essential tool in safeguarding the civil liberties of all. We have a lot of work to do to be trusted to preserve the work, words, and history of the lives of Black Americans. We also must be committed to inclusion in our own archives and stand with Black archivists and archival staff and student workers in our state. One day in the not so distant future, archivists will preserve and provide access to digital images related to the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor as well as video and social media posts of the protests that currently envelop this nation. Our way of advocating for Black people in our communities that continue to endure systemic racism is to actively collect and share their stories and to ensure that researchers and students have access to their voices.
We believe that Black Lives Matter.
The Board of the Society of Mississippi Archivists
Jennifer Brannock was selected as the winner of the RUSA History Section’s Genealogy/History Achievement Award! Click here to read the award announcement.
The SMA board will meet this Friday, January 24, in Jackson to discuss our upcoming annual meeting and other matters.
On the agenda will be the selection of a new board member to replace Derek Webb, who has accepted a new position in Wisconsin. If you are interested in serving on the SMA board and would like to be considered, please email DeeDee Baldwin (email@example.com) by Thursday, January 23.
Registration is now open for the MHS annual meeting in Cleveland, MS on March 5-6. The agenda includes a “Preservation Roadshow” sponsored by SMA:
Ask an Archivist: Preservation Roadshow (E.R. Jobe Hall Auditorium)
Preservation professionals from the Society of Mississippi Archivists will give five-minute lightning talks followed by an open Q&A providing advice on preserving records, objects, and other materials. Attendees are encouraged to bring items in need of preservation.
- Jennifer Brannock, University of Southern Mississippi
- Jenifer Ishee, Mississippi State University
- Emily Jones, Delta State University of Mississippi
- Jessica Perkins-Smith, Mississippi State University
- Mona Vance-Ali, Columbus-Lowndes County Public Library
- Derek Webb, Mississippi University for Women
Our 2019 annual meeting is in the books! Thanks to everyone who attended. The schedule, which includes information about presentations and speakers as well as links to the recorded session videos on Facebook, is still available here and can be accessed under the Resources tab.
Call for Papers:
Society of Mississippi Archivists Annual Meeting 2019
Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS
April 24-26, 2019
The Society of Mississippi Archivists is pleased to announce their annual meeting will occur on April 24-26, 2019 on the campus of Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS.
This one and one half day multidisciplinary conference will explore the theme of Diversity and Inclusion in the Archives. There will also be a pre-conference workshop on Wednesday, April 24, on Teaching with Primary Sources, Special Collections, MSU Libraries, from 2-5 PM.
We seek posters, individual presentations and panels that consider all aspects of diversity and inclusion in archival practice, including reference, instruction, outreach, appraisal and processing.
Possible topics include:
- Successful outreach to underrepresented communities
- Approaches to developing LGBT+ collections
- Recruiting and retaining faculty and staff from underrepresented communities
- Making the archives accessible to patrons with disabilities
- Creating diverse and inclusive exhibits in the archives and on-line
Please send an abstract (with title) of approximately 200 words and a brief bio to DeeDee Baldwin (firstname.lastname@example.org), by February 7, 2019. Both individual presentations and panel discussions will be limited to one hour sessions.
We welcome proposals from scholars at all stages of their careers.
Grocery Stories: Stories Behind the Counter of the Mississippi Delta Chinese Grocery Stores, a new exhibit at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library in Columbus, Mississippi, will be on display from August 1-25, 2018. A presentation by Dr. Sherman Hong will take place at the library on August 14 at noon.
Grocery stores played an integral role in the establishment of the Chinese presence in the Mississippi Delta. This exhibit focuses on the lives lived within grocery stores and demonstrate how many families blended their heritage with their new environment.
The exhibit and presentation are free and open to the public and will take place at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library at 314 North Seventh Street, Columbus, Mississippi. The exhibit is made possible by a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council, through support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The event is sponsored by the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library, Friends of the Columbus-Lowndes Public library, and Delta State University.
For more information, call 662.329.5300.