This volume of historical data is one of a series of eighty-two, assembled by the W.P.A. Mississippi Historical Research Project, under the Division of Women’s and Professional Projects, Miss Ethel Payne, Director. In 1935, under the New Deal, funds were allocated to the Works Progress Administration for that purpose. The project was set up on a state-wide basis, February 19, 1936, with a unit in each county, and employing about 400 persons of work relief status. The plan was unique in that it provided for the writing of eighty-two county histories instead of one state history. Each volume purports to set forth the background of social, economic, and political history of its respective county.
The original Project Proposal, which has been closely followed, succinctly states the objectives and character of the work:
“Historical research and compilation of historic data: Work to consist of (1) searching city, county, and official records, (2) interviewing old inhabitants, (3) collecting data, (4) compiling data pertaining to historic, civic, and cultural development of locality. Index and condense into handy volumes for educational and reference purposes.
“This compiled data will be made a permanent record. One volume of the historical data will be given to the State Department of Archives and History, one volume to the county library, and other volumes to other designated public institutions. Particular consideration will be given to the making of photographs and sketches of public institutions, municipal halls, schools, churches and all historic sites and places of interest as well as photographs of old portraits of pioneer citizens and famous men and women who have been instrumental in building and developing Mississippi. Copies of rare documents of historical and educational value, and pictures of fine old furniture and other valuable antiques will be made in connection with the historical research.”
“This Project will promote county museums to collect and preserve records of historical interest, both private and public and of educational value, relics, antiques, documents; and encourage placing of such articles of greater value in the State Department of Archives and History to stop the present flow of these out of the state and preserve them for the enrichment of Mississippi history.”
The content of these volumes is source material for history, rather than history itself. It is a simple presentation of facts and alleged facts, with no attempt at interpretation. The aim is to preserve the intimate, factual history of the citizens of the county for posterity. No attempt has been made to write eighty-two finished histories. Time would not permit, and this was not the purpose of the Project. It is hoped that this source material will prove valuable for reference, and as a basis for further and more intensive research.
The photographs are used to illustrate the volumes, and for educational exhibits. They are also assembled into portfolios of pictorial history of the state.
The collection of such a vast amount of data was made possible by the co-operation and sponsorship of the following organizations and agencies:
State Sponsor: Mississippi Department of Archives & History
Co-Sponsors: Mississippi Forestry Commission, Mississippi Federation of Women’s Clubs, Inc., Daughters of the American Revolution, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Spanish American War Veterans and Auxiliary, American Legion, and the Adjutant General of the National Guard.
County Sponsors: Boards of Supervisors, County Officers, Departments of Education, and Municipal Boards, Local Units of the organizations named above, church societies, and individual citizens.
The State Press was generous with its space in interesting and informing the public, and eliciting information. Workers were given free access to newspaper files.
Credit is due the county supervisors of the Project and their assistants who made up for lack of training in research methods by tireless zeal and intelligent interpretation of the plans. Their tact and their devotion won the interest and co-operation of the public, without which the data would not have been available.
The state staff of clerical workers, authors, and editors also worked whole-heartedly to assemble the colossal mass of material into logical, readable form.
Susie V. Powell, State Supervisor Historical Research Project
Works Progress Administration for Mississippi, Source Material for Mississippi History, Quitman County, Vol. LX, Compiled by State-Wide Historical Research Project, Susie V. Powell, State Supervisor, Illustrated 1936-1938, pages ii-iii.
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