its rich literary tradition to its troubled political past, Mississippi
has always been - historically speaking - a state of extremes.
is a conundrum," said Dr. Bradley Bond, an associate professor
of history at The University of Southern Mississippi. "Richard
Wright, William Faulkner, Eudora Welty - all of them were alive
at the same time in Mississippi reinventing American literature.
But at the same time, there was that dark side, too. That's part
of its appeal - it's not all good and it's not all bad."
In a new narrative
history book published in June by University Press of Mississippi,
Bond presents real voices from the state's past to tell its complex
story. "Mississippi: A Documentary History" uses a vast
array of public records, newspaper articles, academic papers, constitutional
amendments, journal entries and other documents to detail chronologically
its controversial past and its optimistic present.
in all, the book focuses on key elements in Mississippi's evolution,
starting with the Choctaw and Chickasaw conflicts during the nation's
colonial period and ending with the recent political battle over
the new state flag.
to editing and compiling the 272-page book, Bond wrote introductions
to each chapter that place the documents in their appropriate historical
context. Bond said he wanted to make the book accessible to everyone
- students, scholars, lay readers, librarians and archivists. "This
all started," he said, "with the realization that there
is no single volume history book that chronicles the state of Mississippi."
the author of the award-winning Political Culture in the 19th-Century
South, gathered much of the information from the Mississippi Department
of Archives and History in Jackson. Preserved there are government
manuscripts, personal correspondence, advertisements and a host
of other artifacts from the state's past - even old clothing.
material for the book, Bond said he wanted to find peculiar things
about the state that were illustrative of its diverse and complex
background. "I really wanted something I could use in the classroom,"
One of the
more colorful pieces describes child laborers in the early 20th
century. Brought down from Baltimore to pick shrimp and shuck oysters
on the docks of the Gulf Coast, the children of Eastern European
descent worked for pennies a day. Other episodes describe the rampant
political violence employed by the Democrats to intimidate voters
at the polls in the late 1800s.
1890, people went to the polls with a color-coded ballot, meaning
everyone could see which party you were voting for," Bond said.
"The easiest way to deter someone from voting was to stand
in the door with an ax handle and attack them if they didn't vote
a certain way."
detail life in Mississippi during the secession crisis, the Jim
Crow era, the Great Depression, the New Deal and the economic development
efforts of the late 20th century. Rather than tackling the topic
of the Civil Rights movement in its entirety, Bond singled out the
state's reaction to Brown versus Board of Education and the turbulence
surrounding Freedom Summer.
"I wanted something students could really sink their teeth
into, but also a general introduction to Mississippi history."
his bachelor's of arts in history and English from Southern Miss
and a Ph.D. in history from Louisiana State. A professor at Southern
Miss since 1995, he has also taught at Georgia State University,
Kennesaw State University, and the University of Mississippi.
A Documentary History" is available in bookstores throughout
the state. To order by phone, call University Press of Mississippi
at 1-800-737-7788 or order on-line at www.upress.state.ms.us.