News Archive

Mississippi State University History's Four Nodes Of Excellence

December 31, 2020

For about fifteen years, MSU history has organized its graduate work around Nodes of Excellence. These are History of Science, Technology and Medicine (HOST); Agricultural, Rural and Environmental History (ARE); Identity: Race, Gender and Religion (RIGR) and War, Politics, and International Affairs (WPIA). These Nodes have enabled us to hire as clusters in these areas and to provide a sense of community among the various groups. It facilitates teaching around certain areas and provides us an impressive expertise and depth in scholarship and graduate education. This synergistic organization has allowed us to gain further prominence and has cemented our already strong reputation as a cutting edge history department. We encourage cross-nodal participation and expect many of our graduate students to be adept in more than one nodal area. Presently, the nodes are directed by the following professors: RIGR-Professor Marshall WPIA-Professor Barbier ARE-Professor Giesen HOST-Professor Hui Please feel free to contact them with any questions.

Graduation 2020

December 20, 2020

In an effort to protect everyone's health and to give people who have worked so long and hard the graduation experience, Mississippi State University held several smaller graduations. Of particular note was the PhD. ceremony hosted by the College of Arts & Sciences. Held in a hall that usually seats 450, 14 PhD. graduates, dissertation advisors and some families and friends took seats appropriately distant from one another. They watched PhD recipients receive their hoods and officially become doctors. The three Mississippi State University history graduates who received their PhDs were Matthew Himel, Ryan Semmes and Aaron Thomas. They are pictured in the moving picture screen above. Our Meridian campus held a separate graduation. There three history majors distiguished themselves. Each earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average during their undergraduate career. Kayla Jordan has already started in graduate school with us and another begins next year. We congratulate everyone who graduated this fall and last spring.

Morgan Robinson Awarded Humboldt Research Fellowship for Postdoctoral Researchers

July 15, 2020

A Humboldt Research Fellowship for postdoctoral researchers allows you to carry out long-term research (6-24 months) in Germany. Applicants choose their own topic of research and their academic host. More details are forthcoming.

Judith Ridner On the 50th Anniversary of the 1970 Starkville Racial Protest Marches

June 18, 2020

 Starkville Daily News Earlier this month, spurred by the tragic death of George Floyd and the systemic racism that permeates our communities, thousands of us joined together for Starkville’s Unity March. We marched down Main Street to the Mississippi State University campus while carrying signs and chanting; police blocked traffic; merchants handed out water. At a rally that followed, we listened to speeches by university students, clergy, NAACP leaders, and state representatives; even Starkville’s mayor and the university’s president spoke words of support. Fifty years ago, another series of racial protest marches shook Starkville, culminating during the first weeks of June 1970. As part of the Starkville Civil Rights Project, a team of researchers from the MSU Department of History and MSU Libraries studied the details and context of the June 1970 protest marches. Documents and oral histories that we collected during our research show key similarities and differences between the marches that took place in 2020 and those that took place 50 years earlier. Like the Unity March that took place this month, the 1970 protests were also non-violent. They, too, were organized from within Starkville’s African American community, which was then led by the physician, Dr. Douglas Conner, and local businessmen Bennie Butler, W.B. Robinson, and Clarence Taylor, among others. R.B. Cottonreader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was there to lend logistical support. Also, like today, these marches were born of the African American community’s frustrations over the effects of systemic racism in the city. That April, African American leaders launched a boycott of downtown businesses to protest unequal hiring practices at local retail establishments. African American picketers of all ages marched in circles outside white-owned businesses carrying signs that read: “No Black Sales People, No Business.” Meanwhile, frustration and fear mounted over how federally mandated public school desegregation--some sixteen years after the momentous 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision--would affect Starkville’s black community. News that Starkville’s all-white school board was about to fire thirty African American schoolteachers and a few administrators set off a new wave of larger protests by early June. Few within the city’s white community welcomed these racial protest marches, and no whites marched as allies of their African American neighbors in 1970. Whites hurled insults at picketers and merchants called the police. Starkville’s mayor and the university’s president took a mostly hands-off approach. The mayor claimed to have no leverage to force white business owners to change their hiring practices, or their discriminatory treatment of African American shoppers. As protests grew during the late spring, the mood turned more confrontational. Police denied protesters’ requests for permits to march. The situation finally came to a head during one week in early June when police began arresting hundreds of protestors--365 in total--for obstructing the city’s streets and sidewalks. Starkville’s jail filled quickly and soon the police were busing detainees, including many young people, to the fieldhouse at Henderson High School, the city’s allafrican American school, where they were held until a federal judge ordered their release and set new guidelines under which protests could resume. The protests gradually ended that fall. The boycott and marches had taken a toll on Starkville’s white business community; they finally pledged to hire more African American workers as sales clerks. School desegregation issues took longer to resolve, however. Starkville’s African American leaders filed a lawsuit on behalf of the fired teachers and administrators. In 1971, a federal judge ruled in their favor, arguing that their dismissal constituted an unlawful form of racial discrimination and ordering that they should be reinstated and compensated for their lost wages. Remembering the 50th anniversary of Starkville’s other protests against systemic racism is especially important during this critical juncture in the nation’s and the city’s history. What happened in Starkville in 1970 reminds us of how far we have come as a community. Yet, these memories also highlight the work that is still needed to resolve the persistent inequities and discrimination that African Americans continue to face in Starkville and other communities across the nation.

Joseph Thompson on the long connection among race, military recruitment and country music in the Washington Post

June 9, 2020

The longtime connection between race, country music and military recruitmentBy Joseph M. ThompsonJoseph M. Thompson is an assistant professor of history at Mississippi State University. He is currently writing his first book, “Cold War Country: Music Row, the Pentagon, and the Sound of American Patriotism,” which traces the economic and symbolic connections between the U.S. military and the country music industry since World War II. June 9, 2020 at 5:00 a.m. CDT As protesters against police killings take to the streets across the nation, different branches of the U.S. armed forces have begun to reckon with the issue of race and military service. The Marines announced a ban on public displays of the Confederate flag. Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., an African American and Pacific Air Forces Commander, posted a video to Twitter detailing the racism he has faced while serving the country. Given the current momentum behind the Black Lives Matter movement and the fact that more than 40 percent of the nation’s active duty military are members of a racial minority, it makes sense that the armed forces are grappling with their racial politics. But if the military truly wants to change race relations in the ranks, it may have to rethink an old strategy that has made a recent comeback in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic — the use of country music as a tool for military recruitment.AD The Army and Air Force Recruiting Service began using country music radio and television performances in the 1950s to boost voluntary enlistment among the young white Southerners who were the presumed audience for the genre. The Army stumbled into this tactic in 1953 when it drafted a rising star named Faron Young. While Young completed basic training, his first hit, “Goin’ Steady,” climbed the charts. Recruiters then made Young a voice of recruitment and entertainment for the remainder of his enlistment period — including an appearance on an ABC talent show, “Talent Patrol,” that showcased the entertainment skills of service members. By employing Young in this way, the Army used the singer’s growing popularity as a way to plug enlistment from the stage of the Grand Ole Opry and brand military service with the down-home appeal of country music. The recruiting service soon partnered with Owen Bradley, one of Nashville’s top producers, to create more Pentagon-sponsored country music content. In 1957, the Army launched “Country Style, U.S.A.," a 15-minute television program recorded at Bradley’s studio. Each episode featured current stars, including future legend Johnny Cash, performing a few songs with a recruiting service message to join the Army stuck between the tunes.AD Other service branches copied the Army’s strategy. The Air Force created a radio recruitment show called “Country Music Time,” and the Navy followed with the humorously named “Hootenavy.” The entertainment value lured audiences to these shows, exposing them to the recruitment pitches embedded within each episode. Yet, this wasn’t simply an economic win-win-win for the military, the country stars who gained publicity and potential enlistees. Rather, the recruiting service’s use of country music also had a dark side. Because of the racial history of the country music industry, recruiters imagined that their message only appealed to white recruits, and they used it heavily during the height of the mid-century civil rights movement. While country music can claim fans of all genders and races, it still retains a reputation as a genre made by and for white Southerners, a reputation that stretches back to its commercial beginnings. In the 1920s, record companies segregated musical genres along racial lines in reflection of the Jim Crow laws of the day, casting “hillbilly” music, later renamed country, as an all-white genre and “race records” as a catchall for different genres of black music. Those divisions never really abated over the years, even as country music produced African American stars like Charley Pride and later Darius Rucker.AD For the white Southerners targeted by these country music campaigns in the 1950s and 1960s, joining the military offered a steppingstone to social respectability and economic stability — a way to avoid the manual labor and low-wage service sector jobs that dominated the post-war economy of the South. The pitches in shows like “Country Style, U.S.A.” always focused on the economic benefits of military service. Thousands of white Southerners, including several future country music stars, joined the armed forces for these economic reasons. Cash, who grew up on a farm in Dyess, Ark., enlisted in the Air Force in 1951 for the prospect of a steady job. As he wrote in his autobiography, “a government paycheck and a clean blue uniform looked pretty good.” The military’s use of country music continued for nearly 40 years — until rising enrollment of African Americans and people of color prompted a change in recruitment strategies. Backed by fiddles, steel guitars and banjos, country music recruitment helped brand the genre as the sound of white devotion to the nation-state. At the same time, the recruiting service acted as an unofficial promotional branch of the country music industry, helping push the music to military and civilian audiences and giving a government-sponsored boost to the genre in the process. Of course, the links between country music and the military extended beyond these recruitment partnerships, as country stars found success with patriotic anthems and militaristic themes, from the anti-hippie backlash of Merle Haggard’s “Fightin’ Side of Me” to the macho nationalism of Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American).” These types of songs have led many observers to equate country music with the conservative political beliefs that tend to align with unflinching support for the nation’s military missions.AD Given this history, it’s not shocking that since May 17, the U.S. Army has sponsored country music star Chuck Wicks’s weekly Facebook Live “Sunday Serenade,” marking the return of country music recruiting. On the first Army-sponsored episode, neither Wicks nor guest Brantley Gilbert engaged in jingoistic posturing or even urged their audience to join the military. But Wicks appeared in front of an Army recruitment banner, an Army logo appeared in the bottom corner of the screen and the artists mentioned briefly that the U.S. Army sponsored that week’s show. While the lack of a hard sell might surprise some, the hawkish patriotism heard in songs by the likes of Haggard and Keith has obscured the deeper connection between country music and the U.S. military found in the long history of musical recruitment. Now, amid the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout, it looks as if the Army has retooled this old strategy for a new landscape, deploying country music to entice a new generation of recruits with the tools of social media. Therein lies the inherent problem with country music recruitment. Although country music has grown more diverse over the last decade, with artists like Rucker, Kane Brown and Jimmie Allen experiencing success, the industry still predominantly caters to a white fan base.AD Just last week, Mickey Guyton, an African American country singer, released a new song called “Black Like Me” in which she sings “If you think we live in the land of the free / You should try and be black like me.” This is not patriotism as support for the military but patriotism as dissent. Guyton has struggled to break through in the white, male-dominated world of country, and the smash hit “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X proved deeply controversial and failed to get country airplay, reinforcing the sense that country is a white-dominated genre. Country music’s history as the sound of hawkish patriotism, owing both to connections with the military and songs from artists like Keith, means that the return of country music recruitment strategies runs the risk of reinforcing the racial divisions that have plagued the nation for generations. Instead, the military ought to consider the impact of its longtime country music recruitment strategy and wrestle with the way it contributed to some of the cultural problems our armed forces must now confront. 

Jim Giesen Selected As 2020 Mississippi Humanist of the Year by Mississippi Humanities Council

January 6, 2020

James C. “Jim” Giesen, associate professor in MSU’s Department of History, is the recipient of MHC’s 2020 Humanities Scholar Award for his work as the official scholar for the Mississippi tour of the Smithsonian Institution exhibit, “Waterways.” For Giesen’s work on “Waterways,” his award includes a commissioned work of art to be presented at the MHC annual ceremony. “Waterways” is part of the Smithsonian’s 2018-2019 traveling Museums on Main Street program, designed by Smithsonian scholars. “I am honored to have been chosen by the council to receive this award, especially because I’ve seen how hard the MHC works to make sure that Mississippians not only have access to history, philosophy, poetry, music and literature, but that we can be inspired by the humanities in our everyday lives,” Giesen said, pointing to Mississippi’s “unparalleled” history with the humanities. Tommy Anderson, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, said Giesen’s scholarship on “Waterways” is an illustration of “how the humanities can shed light on deeply important aspects of what it means to be part of the Mississippi community so tied to water.” “His research poignantly links the human condition to the water cycle, its effect on landscape, population settlement and migration, and its influence on culture and spirituality,” Anderson said. “His unique ability to highlight how the human condition is shaped by what we often perceive to be inhuman forces is what makes Dr. Giesen’s work so compelling.” While serving as the official scholar of the “Waterways” exhibit, Giesen traveled throughout Mississippi, interacting with residents who have a connection to the history of water in the state. “At each of the six stops, I made a presentation tailored to the interests of the local hosts. My talk, ‘Water Ways: Ebbs and Flows of History in the Magnolia State,’ wove together three episodes in Mississippi history that had to do with water,” Giesen said, noting he discussed topics such as the Biloxi Wade-ins, the 1927 Mississippi River Flood, and the Mississippi River Basin Model. Giesen serves on the Mississippi Humanities Speakers Bureau, as editor of the University of Georgia Press series “Environmental History and the American South,” and heads the Node of Excellence in Agricultural, Rural and Environmental History Ph.D. program in MSU’s history department. In June, the national Agricultural History Society established the James C. Giesen Award for Exceptional Teaching in Agricultural History, created and named in Giesen’s honor. He also joined an elite percentage of the membership to be named an AHS society fellow. A faculty member at MSU for 13 years, Giesen is a 2018 Grisham Master Teacher.

Mississippi State--the Home for Southern and Environmental History. We Go Back to Back!! Owen Hyman wins the C. Vann Woodward Prize of the Southern Historical Association . . . and we continue to rock the party!

November 12, 2019

Southern Historical Association announces C. Vann Woodward Award Winner for 2019 Athens, GA: The Southern Historical Association (SHA) is pleased to announce the winner of the 2019 C. Vann Woodward Dissertation Prize: Owen Hyman, author of "The Cut and The Color Line: An Environmental History of Jim Crow in the Deep South’s Forests,” written under the direction of James C. Giesen at Mississippi State University. Last year, Jason Hauser, Mississippi State University, won the 2018 Woodward Award for his dissertation entitled "Southern Heat," a consideration of the idea of heat in the south and how it was instrumental in a series of southern contexts. This is only the second time that dissertations from the same university have won the award in back to back years. It firmly cements Mississippi State University as the place to be for the study of southern history and environmental history. Established in 2000, the Woodward Award is given annually to recognize the best dissertation in Southern history defended in the previous calendar year. The prize consists of a $3,000 stipend provided by the Woodward Fund, a generous bequest left to the SHA by C. Vann Woodward. Hyman’s volume explores the long history of segregation and resistance in the Deep South through a focused examination of the Piney Woods region of the southern Gulf Coast. As the committee notes in making their determination, “Hyman’s innovative use of environmental history sustains a powerful narrative of African Americans using their knowledge of the land and ecology to resist the Jim Crow.” Segregation, Hyman argues, was not just a problem of psychology and prejudice, but a system of oppression that originated in the economic exploitation of a particular landscape, where human action and natural forces worked intandem to shape and reshape the power structures of Jim Crow. “Hyman’s innovative methodology, exhaustive research, and beautiful prose,” the committee notes, “make 'The Cut and The Color Line’ a worthy winner of the C. Vann Woodward Prize.” About the SHA: The Southern Historical Association was organized on November 2, 1934 and charged with promoting an "investigative rather than a memorial approach" to southern history. Its objectives are the promotion of interest and research in southern history, the collection and preservation of the South's historical records, and the encouragement of state and local historical societies in the South. As a secondary purpose the Association fosters the teaching and study of all areas of history in the South. The Association holds an annual meeting, usually in the first or second week of November, and publishes The Journal of Southern History. About C. Vann Woodward: Comer Vann Woodward is widely regarded as one of the most influential historians of his generation. Martin Luther King Jr. called his Strange Career of Jim Crow (1955) "the historical bible of the Civil Rights Movement.” Woodward won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1982 for Mary Chesnut’s Civil War.

Mark D. Hersey Selected as Deans Eminent Scholar

October 6, 2019

Mark D. Hersey has been chosen as the 2019 Deans Eminent Scholar in Humanities at Mississippi State. Hersey's selection is recognition of his manifest contributions to the historical profession, especially in the field of environmental history. His most recent labors have been on a study of the history of Alabama's Black Belt. Some of the richest farm land in the south, the region is marked by massive poverty. Hersey's work integrates the Black Belt environment with its people and institutions. He demonstrates how rampant discrimination and other forms of inequity have combined with established practice to turn what otherwise could have been a flourishing area into an economic and social disaster.

Owen J. Hyman Wins the Martha Moore Trescott Prize

September 18, 2019

The prize is awarded to the best paper at the intersection of business history and the history of the technology presented at the annual meeting of the Business History Conference.

Aaron Thomas , MSU History Graduate Student, is a Recipient of the Walter Rosenberry Prize

August 25, 2019

Offered by the Forest History Society, the Walter S. Rosenberry Fellowship provides a $15,000 stipend to support the doctoral research of a graduate student attending a university in North America and whose research contributes to forest and conservation history. Thomas received the award to complete his "Controlling Christmas: An Environmental History of Natural and Artificial Trees." His dissertation seeks to use these trees to better understand debates about conservation and forestry management from the late nineteenth century to today. Walter S. Rosenberry (1931-2005), a long-time supporter and Forest History Society Board member, provided the Society’s first endowment in support of its awards program. Rosenberry received a B.A. degree in History from Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude in 1953. He taught English and history at the Kent Denver School from 1959 to 1981. In addition to his career in teaching, Rosenberry was known widely for his community service and philanthropy.   

Jim Giesen Made Fellow by the Agricultural History Society

June 10, 2019

At its 100th anniversary meeting in Washington, DC, the Agricultural History Society conveyed upon Jim Giesen one of its highest honors. As a Fellow of the society, Giesen now is among a  coterie of individuals who by by-law must comprise less that a small percentage of the society's membership. Giesen's award stemmed from his standing as an agricultural historian--his book, Boll Weevil Blues, and several essays have won a number of prestigious national history awards--and because of his commitment to the society. For nearly a decade, Giesen served as executive secretary of the Agricultural History Society. The Mississippi State University Department of History sheltered the society's executive office and stood as its institutional home. As executive secretary, Giesen oversaw the day-to-day activities of the organization and helped shape policy. Among his endeavors was moving the organization to a more aggressive scholarly posture and to increase its visibility in the profession-at-large. Giesen contends that agriculture is fundamental to all forms of human activity. As a consequence, he argued that there are many more historians and social scientists engaging in the history of agriculture than those identifying themselves in that matter. Part of Giesen's approach was to try to show these people how there work fits squarely in agricultural history and how their avid participation in the Agricultural History Society can promote their intellectual and professional development. Giesen's efforts have been extraordinary and the organization maintains the important place in does in the history profession in part through Giesen's and Mississippi State University's efforts. The organization further recognized Giesen's passion for agricultural history and for teaching history generally by creating at its annual meeting the James C. Giesen Award for Exceptional Teaching in Agricultural History. Given yearly, the prize recognizes a leading teaching in the field and comes with a modest stipend.

Morgan Robinson Awarded Schmitt Grant By the American Historical Assoclation

April 24, 2019

The American Historical Association offers the Bernadotte E. Schmitt Grants to support research in the history of Europe, Africa, and Asia. The funds for this program come from the earnings of a bequest from Bernadotte E. Schmitt, president of the Association in 1960. These grants are intended to further research in progress. Professor Robinson, one of eleven recipients nationwide, won the award for her research, "Standard Swahili: Expressions of Belonging and Exclusion in Eastern Africa."

Leigh Soares Awarded Postdoctoral Fellowship at the George and Ann Richards Center, Penn State University

March 16, 2019

Soares will be the 7th recipient of the Richards Center Postdoctoral Fellowship during the 2019-2020 academic year. Created in partnership with Penn State’s Africana Research Center, the Richards Center fellowship is open to recently graduated Ph.D.s studying aspects of the African American experience from slavery to Civil Rights. While in residence, Soares will have access to the Richards and Africana Research Centers professional resources. She will have a mentor to guide her and will participate in a series of professional development workshops. Soares will present her research to the Penn State graduate community. Senior scholars in her area of specialty will be invited to the university to review and comment on her work.

Managing Scandal in the White House, October 24-25, 2019

February 11, 2019

Please click on the headline for more information

MSU History Set to Open Online History Major in Fall 2019

December 4, 2018

Start planning now.  All courses now online will count towards the new online history major. Look to this space for additional details.

Mississippi State History Announces Maroon and White Graduate Assistantships

November 23, 2018

Aided by a grant from the graduate school, Mississippi State History is pleased to offer a series of special competitive graduate assistantships for new students enrolling in August 2019. Each is named after a retired history faculty member. There are two types of assistantships for the coming academic year. Mississippi State’s two colors—maroon and white—differentiate the two awards. Both require recipients to be teaching assistants. Duties may include working as an editorial assistant for ISIS, the journal of the History of Science Society, for Environmental History, the journal of the American Society for Environmental History and of the Forest History Society, or for War in History. The Maroon extends through the academic year and provides at least $18,000 during that period. The White is for the academic year and the following summer. It pays at least $22,000. Decisions about these special assistantships will be made before the end of March.

Hyman Wins Rainger Prize from the History of Science Society

November 14, 2018

Ronald Rainger Prize for the best early career work on the history of the earth and environmental studies The inaugural Rainger Prize for early-career work in the history of the earth and environmental sciences is awarded to Owen Hyman for his essay “Anxieties of the Plastic Age: Cotton Culture, White Supremacy, and Tenant Forestry in the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta, 1935-1953.” Dr. Hyman recently completed his Ph.D. in the department of history at Mississippi State University. His prize-winning paper illuminates a range of factors that led cotton planters in the Delta region of Mississippi to adopt a new focus on exploiting their lands’ hardwood forests in the first half of the twentieth century. Planters shifted their attention to timber resources (and sponsored forestry research) at a moment when their cotton production seemed threatened by competition from other cotton-growing regions, the rise of synthetic textiles, and the local labor shortage caused by out-migration and the war economy. However, Hyman argues convincingly that their specific approach to developing a Delta timber economy—namely by adoption of small-scale “low tech” forestry carried out by black tenant farmers—was driven by a desire to maintain the longstanding social order in the Delta, the site of a notoriously oppressive agrarian regime of slave-labor and sharecropping. Hyman’s close archival research, and his contextualizing of the region’s Delta Experimental Forest in economic, social, and environmental history, make this essay a worthy winner of the first Rainger Prize.

Sessions of the inaugural workshop of the Second World War Research Group-North America now online

November 1, 2018

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University hosted the inaugural workshop of the Second World War Research Group-North America featuring award-winning military historian and author Robert Citino as the keynote speaker. The workshop focused on “Changing Landscapes: the Environment of the Second World War” and provided participants a forum to reflect on new ways to view conflict. Author of numerous books on the German Army during WWII, Citino also is the senior historian at The National WWII Museum. In addition to Citino’s keynote, paper presenters included Conrad Crane of the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center; Robert Engen of Royal Military College of Canada; Robert Jefferson of University of New Mexico; Benjamin Jones of Dakota State University; Kristin Mulready-Stone of the Naval War College; Katrin Paehler of Illinois State University; and Phillip Rutherford of Marshall University. The workshop can be viewed at,, and

Alexandra Finley Nets Chaudhuri Prize

September 6, 2018

Alexandra Finley received the Nupur Chaudhuri Article Prize, which recognizes the best first article published in the field of history by a Coordinating Council for Women in HIstory member. Finley's award winning article is ’Cash to Corinna’: Domestic Labor and Sexual Economy in the ‘Fancy Trade,’” in the Journal of American History (September 2017), 410-430. Named to honor long-time CCWH board member and former executive director and co-president from 1995-1998 Nupur Chaudhuri, the article must be published in a refereed journal in one of the two years proceeding the prize year.  An article may only be submitted once.  All fields of history will be considered, and articles must be submitted with full scholarly apparatus. The Coordinating Council for Women in History is a volunteer, non-profit organization dedicated to supporting women historians at all stages of their career and to promoting women’s history in all its forms. /*-->*/

When Is Three Four?

August 15, 2018

For more than a decade, MSU history has organized its graduate work around three Nodes of Excellence—History of Science, Technology and Medicine (HOST); Agricultural, Rural and Environmental History (ARE); and Empire, Power, Identity and Conflict (EPIC) --and several traditional areas of interest—race, gender, and the south. These subject areas have served the department and its faculty well. But times change. It an effort to improve what we do, it makes sense to make some modifications and to organize what had been traditional subject areas into a fourth free standing node. HOST and ARE well defined subject areas. Each has clearly drawn professional societies. The EPIC node has been a less well defined subject cluster than HOST or ARE. To improve clarity, we are streamlining it to focus on foreign and internal affairs, strategic studies, military history, policing generally, and geopolitics. It now will be known as War, Politics and International Affairs (WPIA-pronounced Whoopie I A). Our new fourth node revolves around the study of identity, especially gender. race and region. Those three subjects are and have been crucial types of identity. This fourth node (known by the acronym RIGR pronounced Rigor) incorporates faculty on staff and courses we have been teaching, enables us to use the synergy we already have generated in these well aligned areas and adds to it. Capturing identity in a single node raises it in prominence within our program and promises to cement further our already strong reputation in what had been important traditional subject areas.

Alexandra Hui and Matthew Lavine to be Editors of the History of Science Society Publications--ISIS and OSIRIS

July 7, 2018

The History of Science Society is pleased to announce that the next Editor of HSS will be, in fact, two editors: Alexandra (Alix) Hui and Matthew (Matt) Lavine, both of Mississippi State University. Alix and Matt will immediately begin a one-year transition and will formally assume the Editorship on 1 July 2019. Their term will run through 30 June 2024. A powerful part of Alix and Matt’s proposal is the role outlined for Carin Berkowitz of the Science History Institute (formerly Chemical Heritage Foundation). Carin (pronounced KAH-rin), one of our more steadfast volunteers, will serve as the Book Review Editor and will be able to draw on the deep resources of the greater Philadelphia area.New HSS Co-Editor, Alix HuiNew HSS Co-Editor, Matt Lavine Their appointment follows an 18-month search, in which HSS’s Committee on Publications sought and encouraged nominations, vetted these proposals, engaged in multiple site visits, debated the merits of the bids, and made a recommendation to the HSS Executive Committee. The Executive Committee enthusiastically endorsed CoP’s nomination and HSS’s Council gave final approval. This will be the first formal co-editorship for the HSS (although one could argue that Sarton and IB Cohen effectively functioned as co-editors), and the July Newsletter will feature an article by Alix and Matt, outlining their vision for HSS’s publications. We hope that you will read it with care and respond to their request for suggestions as they work through the transition period.

American Society for Environmental History and Forest History Society Announce Mark Hersey and Stephen Brain as Next Editors of Environmental History

June 20, 2018

introducing new editors for environmental history   We are delighted to announce that ASEH and the Forest History Society have together approved the appointment of Dr. Mark D. Hersey and Dr. Stephen Brain as editors-elect of the journal Environmental History. They will begin work on July 1, 2018 and assume full charge of the journal on January 1, 2019. Dr. Hersey will serve     as editor and Brain co-editor.   Both Hersey and Brain are members of the Department of History at Mississippi State University, which has committed substantial support to assist them in their editorial roles. Two graduate students in the department's Agricultural, Rural and Environmental history node (ARE) will assist the editorial team each semester and during the summer months.   The decision to place the flagship Environmental History with Hersey and Brain at Mississippi State is the culmination of rigorous search process. The search committee, constituted by mutual agreement between ASEH and FHS, included Nancy Jacobs as Chair, Sara Gregg, Ellen Stroud, Chris Boyer and Adam Rome (with Steven Anderson and Graeme Wynn representing the two societies ex-officio). It considered an exceptionally strong set of candidates for the position. We appreciate and recognize the valuable contribution of these colleagues, to ASEH, FHS and the field of environmental history, and thank, especially, Nancy Jacobs for her fine work in bringing the deliberations of the committee to a timely and unanimous conclusion.     Hersey is an associate professor of history at Mississippi State University, where he directs the Center for the History of Agriculture, Science, and the Environment of the South (CHASES). He is the author of My Work is That Of Conservation: An Environmental Biography of George Washington Carver (2011) and of numerous articles and book chapters. As a graduate student at the University of Kansas, he served as an editor and interim director for two public history projects. He has since edited special issues on environmental history for two journals, and he is currently an editor for the University of Alabama Press's NEXUS book series. A collection of essays titled A Field on Fire: The Future of Environmental History, which he co-edited with Ted Steinberg, will be released later this year. He is working on a study of the physiographic Black Belt of Alabama and Mississippi, exploring the intersections of land use, race, and identity there since the late eighteenth century.   Brain is an associate professor of history at Mississippi State University. He received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 2007 under the direction of Douglas Weiner and Carolyn Merchant. His first book, Song of the Forest, was published in 2011. He has published articles in Environmental HistoryRussian ReviewSlavic Review, and Cold War History. He is working on the environmental history of Soviet collectivization, and the Soviet effort to build artificial environments in space.  

Andrew Lang's first book wins the $50,000 Tom Watson Brown Book Award

June 1, 2018

It was announced at a meeting of the Society of Civil War Historians that Mississippi State University's Andy Lang, assistant professor of history, is the 2018 recipient of the $50,000 Tom Watson Brown Book Award. Lang won the award for his In the Wake of War: Military Occupation, Emancipation, and Civil War America. LSU Press published Lang's prize winning book. The Tom Watson Brown Book Award is presented annually by the Watson-Brown Foundation and the Society of Civil War Historians to the author or authors of the best book “on the causes, conduct, and effects, broadly defined, of the Civil War,” published in the preceding year. Jurors consider the scholarly and literary merit of the books as well as the extent to which they make original contributions to our understanding of the period in fashioning a decision. Tad Brown, president of the Watson-Brown Foundation, will present the award at a special banquet during the annual meeting of the Southern Historical Association. Lang will offer an address to the assembled at that meeting. Previous Tom Watson Brown Book Award Winners: 2016: Earl J. Hess, Stewart W. McClelland Chair in History, Lincoln Memorial University, for his book, Civil War Infantry Tactics: Training, Combat, and Small-Unit Effectiveness.  (Louisiana State University Press, 2015)2015: Shauna Devine, Professor, Schulich School of Medicine and Department of History, Western University, for Learning from the Wounded: The Civil War and the Rise of American Medical Science. (The University of North Carolina Press, 2014)2014: Ari Kelman, Chancellor’s Leadership Professor of History, University of California, Davis, for A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek (Harvard University Press, 2013).2013: John Fabian Witt, Allen H. Duff Class of 1960 Professor of Law at Yale Law School and a Professor of History in the Yale History Department, for Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History (Simon & Schuster, 2012).2012: Gary W. Gallagher, John L. Nau III Professor in the History of the American Civil War at the University of Virginia, for The Union War (Harvard University Press, 2011).2011: Mark W. Geiger, a 2011-12 Kluge Fellow at the Library of Congress and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University Library of Congress and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Sydney, for Financial Fraud and Guerrilla Violence in Missouri’s Civil War, 1861-1865 (Yale University Press, 2010).2010: Daniel E. Sutherland, Distinguished Professor of History, University of Arkansas, for A Savage Conflict: The Decisive Role of Guerrillas in the American Civil War  (University of North Carolina, 2009).

Alexandra Hui Elected to the American Historical Association Council

May 31, 2018

The primary governing body of the Association is the Council, whose members are elected annually by the AHA membership. The Council cares for the general interests of the Association by conducting business, setting policy, and overseeing the financial and legal matters of the organization.

Jim Giesen announced as Grisham Master Teacher

April 29, 2018

Giesen is the 16th member of the current Mississippi State University faculty awarded that honor. The university’s Instructional Improvement Committee selected Giesen according to the following criteria:engagement of students;assessment of teaching and learning;clarity and organization of teaching;variety of teaching methods;enthusiasm;scholarship in teaching A medal designating Giesen a Grisham Master Teacher accompanied the award. Giesen will address the university community on some aspect of pedagogy this fall.

Alexandra Finley Garners Lerner-Scott Award from the Organization of American Historians

April 28, 2018

Finley's dissertation, entitled "Blood Money: Sex, Family, And Finance In The Antebellum Slave Trade" received the Lerner-Scott Prize at the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians in April. The award is given annually by the OAH for the best doctoral dissertation in U.S. women’s history. The prize is named for Gerda Lerner and Anne Firor Scott, both pioneers in women’s history and past presidents of the OAH. Finley's prize-winning dissertation examines the economic contributions of enslaved and free women’s domestic and reproductive labor in the antebellum slave trade from 1820 to 1865. By looking for women’s work in unexpected places, such as the slave market, which historians have argued is a masculine space, this project highlights the various ways that feminine labor, including sewing, washing, and nursing, contributed to the economy of the slaveholding South. The nature of the slave market, with its cash valuation of human flesh and emphasis on the appearance and health of enslaved men and women, gives a brutal example of how domestic and reproductive labor is monetized. In order to make these connections tangible, the dissertation considers five case studies of women who labored in the domestic slave trade. Their lives demonstrate how the household was connected to the marketplace, how domestic labor blurred the lines between public and private, and how women’s labor is the foundation of economic growth.

Four Incoming Graduate Students Receive Assistantships Named After Longtime History Professors

April 13, 2018

To honor former professors for their intellectual contributions to the study of history and outstanding service to Mississippi State, the department of history has awarded several named assistantships to incoming graduate students. The inaugural class includes: Madeline Berry, who will receive the E. Stanly Godbold Assistantship. A graduate of St. Francis (PA) University. Madeline is planning to explore the connections between environmental and African American history. Jon-Michael Davidson, recipient of the Charles D. Lowry Assistantship, is from the University of Mobile. He plans to study the Civil War on the high seas. Nathan Smith holds the Roy V. Scott Assistantship. Smith hails from Iowa State University and is interested in the intersection of race and sports, especially at Ole Miss Matthew Jackson holds the Godfrey N. Uzoigwe Assistantship. A graduate of Western Carolina University, Matthew was attracted to Mississippi State History because of its interests in southern, race and gender histories. We plan to continue this practice for the foreseeable future.

MSU History Grad Student Lucas Wilder Wins 2018 Bearss Fellowship

February 24, 2018

March 9, 2018 STARKVILLE, Miss. – For his development of a Cumberland Gap Civil War driving tour, a Mississippi State doctoral student is receiving a prestigious award from the National Park Service. Lucas Wilder is being honored with the 2018 Bearss Fellowship Award, named in honor of Edwin “Ed” C. Bearss, the chief historian emeritus of the National Park Service. The annual award is presented to a scholar researching American history. “I was humbled and honored by the fact that I was chosen,” the Lee County, Virginia, native said. “Ed Bearss is still a major figure for interpreting Civil War history and to receive an award named after him is a huge honor.” Wilder said the award promotes the education of park employees so that they can bring “the best and most thoroughly researched information to [park] visitors.” Wilder’s latest project will be added to the park website this spring for visitors to download. The Cumberland Gap Civil War driving tour includes information to assist visitors in making connections to park resources. “The award stems from the recognition that to understand and appreciate national parks fully demands a firm, deep historical base,” said Alan Marcus, head of MSU’s Department of History. Marcus said Wilder’s work on various sites aids in “exploring the interactions [between] the environment and the human actors that have partaken of it, [which] helps provide critical insight into how Americans generally relate to their physical surroundings.” Wilder’s doctoral studies in American history with a concentration in both the American Civil War and environmental history at MSU have provided him the “intellectual toolkit necessary to undertake the painstaking historical research to make the national park experience richer and more accessible to all who venture there now and in the future,” Marcus said. Wilder’s time with the NPS began in 2009 at Cumberland Gap when he was hired through the Student Temporary Employment Program and transitioned into the Pathways Student Program. His duties include giving tours of Gap Cave, developing and conducting campfire programs and participating in historical demonstrations. An aspiring college professor, Wilder said he “loves to teach people about history and its value to our daily lives.” Wilder has settled back to his native Lee County, 10 miles east of Cumberland Gap, through which the famous pioneer Daniel Boone led prospective settlers into Kentucky. He studied at MSU from 2014-2016, but will complete his dissertation while working for NPS. Wilder said he “always felt that I should give back to the community that gave me so much.” Wilder also credits MSU history professors Andrew Lang, James Giesen and Mark Hersey for giving him “the confidence to apply for awards like this one and helping me become a better writer and researcher.” Wilder continued, “Mississippi State has given me the tools necessary to become a great researcher and historian.” Wilder obtained an associate of arts degree in 2010 from Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, a bachelor’s degree in history in 2012 from Lincoln Memorial University, and a master’s degree in history in 2014 from East Tennessee State University. The Bearss award is endowed by historian Frances Kennedy and her late husband Roger Kennedy, a former National Park Services director. The Kennedys’ endowment supports NPS employees’ graduate-level studies in American history or American studies and is administered in partnership with the National Park Foundation.

Julia Osman Announced as Director, Institute for the Humanities

February 9, 2018

Osman also champions the study of European History at Mississippi State. Click   STARKVILLE, Miss.—In her new role as director of Mississippi State’s Institute for the Humanities, Associate Professor Julia Osman is inspiring the university community to consider different perspectives in a broader global context.A faculty member since 2011, Osman accepted the director position in January after William Anthony Hay completed his successful term. He continues his full-time work as an associate professor in MSU’s Department of History.Serving the departments of art, communication, English, classical and modern languages and literatures, history, music, and philosophy and religion, as well as the Cobb Institute of Archaeology, the Institute for the Humanities is a unit of the College of Arts and Sciences. The college regularly sponsors activities that bring prominent humanities scholars to the university.The institute supports faculty research initiatives and public outreach through scholarship and innovative teaching, and serves as a liaison between its members and the Office of Research and Economic Development.“The institute aims to help students learn to appreciate aspects of life, such as art, music, literature and poetry, that they can enjoy and use to express themselves for the rest of their lives, regardless of where and how they live,” said Osman, who holds a doctorate in early-modern French history and master’s in European history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.Also a College of William and Mary history bachelor’s graduate, Osman said the institute strives to help people understand the purpose of the humanities.“Whether we acknowledge it or not, the humanities inform everything,” she emphasized. “The questions we ask, be it of the natural world, the cosmos, or what makes people tick, are all informed by the political, social and cultural contexts.”Osman’s current research project involves an examination of the transformation of civil-military relations from the 17th through 18th centuries. As institute director, she wants to put MSU students and community members “in touch with a variety of different ways of looking at the world.”“Empathy, critical thinking and a variety of means of communicating and listening—all of these things help us to live fuller lives and behave as responsible citizens,” Osman said. “We need to cultivate our knowledge and experience of the humanities to best exercise our freedoms and make the most of our human potential.”MSU College of Arts and Sciences Dean Rick Travis said Osman will be instrumental in advancing the institute’s mission “to promote a deeper appreciation for the humanities disciplines through a variety of speakers and programs, along with the research and creative activities it sponsors.”“I think that Dr. Osman has some wonderful ideas for promoting more cross-disciplinary research efforts that will enable us to capitalize on the unique strengths and opportunities for the study of humanities in one of the most culturally fertile, creative states in the nation,” Travis said.By providing venues for researchers in the humanities to share their projects with fellow scholars, Osman said the institute will continue to foster knowledge in those areas.“We want to involve the community by inviting them to partake in campus events and meet our visiting speakers, as well as interact with our faculty and see what humanities researchers are looking at now and why those topics matter to the wider world,” she explained.More information on the College of Arts and Sciences and its Institute for the Humanities is available at or

MAKING MEMORY: REMEMBERING AND COMMEMORATING THE PAST--10th Annual Symposium for Undergraduate Research--Call for Papers

November 28, 2017

CALL FOR PAPERS – ABSTRACT DEADLINE MARCH 1, 2018 MAKING MEMORY:REMEMBERING AND COMMEMORATING THE PAST An Undergraduate Research Symposium The History Department at Mississippi State University invites undergraduate scholars to submit papers for the tenth annual Symposium for History Undergraduate Research (SHUR). The symposium will provide students with the opportunity to present their research in the format of an academic history conference and have their work discussed by Mississippi State history professors. The event is scheduled for April 27-28, 2018, on the Mississippi State University campus in Starkville.Papers are welcome on any historical topic, but especially those that reflect the Mississippi State University History Department’s in the history of science and technology; agricultural, rural, and environmental history; military and diplomatic history; the Civil War; gender history; African American history and civil rights; and the American South. We also welcome papers on the subjects of historical memory, memorialization, and commemoration, in acknowledgement of the tenth anniversary of SHUR. The paper should be based on original research in primary sources. Interested students should submit a proposal or abstract of not more than 400 words to Dr. Andrew Lang and Dr. Courtney Thompson at by March 1, 2018. Students whose papers have been accepted will be notified by March 15, 2018. The History Department will offset the costs of one night’s lodging for presenters and provide a BBQ banquet dinner on the Symposium’s opening night.SHUR is online at, and on Facebook at

Professor Stephen Middleton, Founding Director of African American Studies, Retires

November 22, 2017

Stephen Middleton came to Mississippi State in 2007 to create the university's first African American Studies Program. He retires after 10 years of service. Stephen Middleton received his B.A. degree from Morris College, the M.A. degree from The Ohio State University, and the Ph.D. degree from Miami University (Ohio). He completed the first-year curriculum in law at New York University School of Law. His research interest is race and the legal system. His most recent publication, The Construction of Whiteness. An Interdisciplinary Analysis of Race Formation and the Meaning of White Identity, was edited by Middleton, David R. Roediger, and Donald M. Shaffer. It was published by the University Press of Mississippi in 2015. His latest monograph is entitled, The Black Laws: Race and the Legal Process in Ohio, 1787-1860 (2005) and he is currently working on Robert Heberton Terrell, an African American judge in Washington, D.C. He frequently gives talks to schools and community groups. He has presented talks at Broadneck High School in Annapolis, Maryland and Chapel Hill High School in North Carolina; the Environmental Protection Office (EPA) in RTP North Carolina; the Government Accounting Office (GAO) in Cincinnati OH; civic clubs such as the Lions and Rotary, and national organizations including the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, African American Heritage Preservation Foundation, National Council of Negro Women (Raleigh Section), Cross High School Alumni Class of 1972, and numerous other associations. He has also conducted teacher-training workshops for the National Humanities Center and the Bill of Rights Institute.  

MSU History to Award Super Graduate Assistantships

November 15, 2017

Starting in Fall 2018, several entering history graduate students will receive Super Graduate Assistantships. Reserved for our very best new students, recipients will serve as teaching assistants with a stipend of at least $18,000 for the academic year. These Super Assistantships are recognition from the Graduate School of MSU History’s excellent program and the desire to attract ever better students. Each of these awards covers almost all tuition and fees in addition to the $18,000 stipend. Ph.D students will be favored for these awards but Masters students are also eligible for consideration.

Mississippi State History Inaugurates Program to Speed Time to PhD

October 10, 2017

Beginning this summer, Mississippi State History will offer a program for our very best graduate students to speed the time to the PhD and to make our students even more marketable. This in residence program is available to new graduate students at the end of their first year at Mississippi State and will run through the months of June and July. It is expected to shave a semester off the time to reach the PhD by have students enroll in a paper producing seminar that will easily translate into a publishable article and in a content-oriented readings course to prepare students for their PhD exams. Tuition will be paid by the department. A graduate assistant stipend of $1000/month for three months will accompany these awards.

Boles praises Jefferson’s ‘way with words’ during Constitution Day lecture at MSU

September 20, 2017

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A nationally recognized scholar and critically acclaimed author from Rice University praised Thomas Jefferson’s powerful rhetoric during a Constitution Day presentation at Mississippi State University. During his Monday [Sept. 18] talk “Jefferson’s Constitutionalism: Words to Protect our Liberties,” Professor John Boles discussed how the nation’s third president used his writing talents to define the purposes and powers of government and protect the liberties of citizens. “Thomas Jefferson used his power for words for many purposes. He has often been called a ‘Renaissance man’ because of the breadth of his interests and range of his accomplishments in statescraft, architecture, paleontology, linguistics and so on, but perhaps his greatest skill was as a wordsmith. His magical way with words enabled him to write with a clarity and grace unequalled among the founding fathers,” said Boles, a doctoral graduate of Jefferson’s alma mater, the University of Virginia. Boles explained that Jefferson was not a member of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 because he was in Paris serving as U.S. minister to France when the convention was held in Philadelphia. The founding father’s view of the Constitution was not rigid; rather, he believed it could and should be changed as the nation matured and responded to progress. “He never saw the Constitution as so holy that its words should be venerated,” Boles said of Jefferson. “It was a decidedly human doctrine that he simply believed should be changed to take into account new opportunities.” “I absolutely believe Jefferson thought in order to be respected, the Constitution had to be a living, breathing document. That was, in some sense, the glory of it because the American people could change it,” Boles emphasized. Constitution Day celebrates the signing of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1789.  Federal law requires all publically funded educational institutions to recognize the occasion by offering programming on the Constitution’s history and principles. Organized by the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Political Science and Public Administration and Institute for the Humanities, Boles’ campus visit was part of the university’s Lamar Conerly Governance Lecture Series. The lecture series is made possible by major support from Conerly, a 1971 MSU accounting/pre-law graduate and longtime partner in the Destin, Florida, law firm of Conerly, Bowman and Dykes LLP. He is both a former national MSU Alumni Association president and continuing College of Business Alumni Fellow. Support also is provided by the Jack Miller Center for Teaching America’s Founding Principles and History.

Jason Morgan Ward in the Washington Post-The Myth of Southern Blood

August 21, 2017 When I saw Nazi and Confederate flags mingling in Charlottesville, I thought about Victor Bernstein. And blood. Until SS harassment forced him out in 1939, Bernstein covered Nazi Germany for the Jewish Telegraph Agency. After the war, he returned to cover the Nuremberg trials. In between, he investigated white supremacist violence in the American South. In 1942, Bernstein interviewed Mississippi’s governor in the wake of a double lynching of two adolescent boys. Gov. Paul B. Johnson Sr., who had publicly condemned the killings, patted a stack of congratulatory letters on his desk. But he didn’t want a Yankee reporter to mistake his “law and order” stance for an endorsement of racial equality. “You know we have certain prejudices down here,” he told Bernstein. They “are born in us. You know there’s nobody down here would sit down with a Negro and eat with him at the same table. You know we’d rather die first, don’t you?” If Johnson’s anti-lynching rhetoric was politically risky, his stand for white supremacy was decidedly mainstream. Indeed, after Bernstein’s exposé embarrassed him, the governor lashed out at the media and doubled down on white supremacy. Anyone who supported civil rights, he complained, was “trying to make white people black and black people white.” To a Jewish reporter who had survived a stint in Nazi Germany, many white Southerners seemed as preoccupied with blood purity as the master-race theorists of the Third Reich. Seventy-five years later, when neo-Confederates and neo-Nazis descended on Charlottesville to protest the pending removal of a monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, Bernstein’s reflections on his trip south ring true: “The swastika is no prettier when entwined with magnolia blossoms.” President Trump attempted to disentangle the two last week, when he claimed that “some very fine people” had gathered in Charlottesville to defend history and “culture.” Yet his fumbling attempts to distinguish “innocent” defenders of Southern heritage from violent white supremacists did not jibe with realities on the ground. That quite a few neo-Confederates felt at ease in a crowd chanting “Blood and Soil” should surprise no historian of the South, given how often the architects of white supremacy drew the color line in blood-red. Apologists for slavery, secession and segregation have always preferred to explain away costly and violent crusades in terms of blood and honor. The Confederacy was a contentious political project, not an ethno-cultural movement, yet generations of white Southerners preferred to remember “the Lost Cause” as something that pumped through their veins. The obsession with purity and preservation of that Southern blood fueled the white supremacist campaigns that followed, from disfranchisement pushes in the late 19th century to desegregation standoffs in the civil rights era. These efforts fed off sexually charged fears of what the alt-right now calls “white genocide.” Virginia played a central role in making blood the law of the land with the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which codified the “one-drop rule” by labeling anyone with any nonwhite ancestors as “colored,” expanded a program of involuntary sterilization and strengthened prohibitions on interracial marriage to keep white folks white, as Johnson might have put it. Of course, the blood cult could not hide the reality of a multihued South, visible evidence that slaveholders and segregationists were never as committed to racial purity as they claimed. Blood mingled in the soil as well, as the battlefields of the Civil War became the killing fields of Reconstruction and Jim Crow. When the NAACP’s Walter F. White, the fair-skinned grandson of a Georgia slaveholder, passed as a white man to investigate Southern racial violence, he exposed Jim Crow’s brutality. But every time he crossed the color line unnoticed, he also mocked the arrogance and insanity of a racial system built on a blood lie. Myths of a monolithic Anglo-Saxon South also obscured the region’s persistent diversity of background and belief. From its native inhabitants to immigrants and migrant workers, the South has never been as simple as black and white. And while loyalty to blood and soil long served as a tool to enforce white conformity, dissidents from the abolitionist sisters Sarah and Angelina Grimké to the Southern Poverty Law Center founder Morris Dees have always put self-evident truths before blood myths. In the battle over the South’s history, blood ties and blood lies persist. Yankee professors are tempting targets, like the colleague whose student announced, “You may have a PhD in Southern history, but I have a Southern history.” Who needs the books when you have the blood? Some white Southerners see truth-telling as racial betrayal. They expect Southern heritage to instill a conviction that the brutal legacy of white supremacy is a family secret, one that all white Southerners are blood-bound to protect. Yet white Southerners who reject these blood lies are no more foreign to their home soil than the ideologies of eugenics and racial purity that fueled a white supremacist revolution, one that rewrote the Southern past to write black Southerners out — not just out of the region’s history, but out of its civic and social fabric. Confederate nationalism — past, present and future — is white nationalism. It should surprise no one how easily the two intermingle in rhetoric, symbols and sentiment, not only in Charlottesville but anywhere protesters gather to lament an imperiled culture and a past that never was. Sorting one out from the other is no more possible than separating out the blood mixed and spilled so often across our shared past.

Anne E. Marshall On History, the Confederacy and Monuments

August 17, 2017

Professor Marshall is also quoted in Mother Jones. See   From the Lexington Herald Leader Op-Ed page, August 17, 2017   Late Saturday, prompted by events in Virginia, Mayor Jim Gray announced he would expedite the removal of two Confederate monuments from the lawn of the former Fayette County Courthouse. The likenesses of John Hunt Morgan and John C. Breckenridge have been public targets since the deadly shooting in Charleston, S.C., in 2015 underscored the connection between Confederate symbolism and racial violence. But violence in Charlottesville added a new sense of immediacy. As one who has studied the history of Confederate monuments in Kentucky, I was, as recently as a couple of years ago, advocating against this very thing. I was then committed to what historians and others call “contextualism.” Contextualism aims, through historical explanation, to displace the original intent of the statues, which was to honor the Confederate Lost Cause. As I argue at length in my book, “Creating a Confederate Kentucky,” whites erected Confederate monuments not only to remember the past, but to control the present. Initiated in an age where African-Americans sought to make social, economic and political gains, the monuments were a powerful reminder of who was in power. It was no coincidence that most appeared between 1890 and 1915, the heyday of lynching and the dawn of Jim Crow. Historians and others who adopt this approach understand how and why Confederate monuments are offensive but argue that physically removing them from public places constitutes an erasure and a white-washing of history. Instead, they advocate adding the voices of the oppressed to the historical landscape through signage, markers and other statues representing the stories and experiences of slavery and Jim Crow. My views changed, however, after seeing the failure of such a strategy in Louisville. In 2012, the University of Louisville christened Freedom Park, a model example of contextualization. Designed by both historians and community members, the park includes multiple interpretive panels, which present and honor the struggle for black freedom over the course of the city’s history. It was designed to counter the message of white power in the form of the hulking Confederate monument just across the street. In my mind, it should have worked. Presenting the history of oppression and resilience of African-Americans should have denuded the Confederate monument of its power as a symbol of the city’s history, and accordingly, its meaning in the present. But it did not. In a present in which racial injustice pervades the everyday life of so many, it turns out that no amount of historical context is particularly helpful. The public continued to protest and the city and the university responded by removing the statue last year. Contextualization in public spaces doesn’t work because monuments speak not only to who had power in the past, but who has it in the present. This is evident in the aggrieved voices who call for their removal. It is also clear from the voices of the white supremacists in Charlottesville who, in their cries of “You will not replace us,” rallied not so much for Robert E. Lee, as much as against the broader attack on white power and identity his removal represents. In times like these, removing Confederate monuments from public places is not an erasure of history, but rather a statement by the cities and towns which choose to move them that the values for which the Confederacy stood before and after the war no longer represent them. Some may see removing them as disrespectful of history or the people who lived it. But we should never honor or valorize people of history at the expense of the fellow humans we live amongst today. To prize the past over the present is to fetishize it and to create false idols of our ancestors. Removing Confederate statues from places of public honor will not solve the injustices of today, but it is at least a powerful step in acknowledging them. We can hope that real acts of reform will follow the symbolic, and that bare earth and empty pedestals left by removed statues will not leave a void, but rather space for real change. Anne E. Marshall, a Lexington native, is an associate professor at Mississippi State University. Read more here:

Jay Malone, Executive Director of the History of Science Society, speaks to Mississippi State History

July 19, 2017

Malone, Executive Director of the History of Science Society, discusses "Science in Old Mississippi: Bringing Science and Humanity to the People."   View it at

Jessica Wang, "Medical Therapeutics, Political Culture, and Global Imperialism: Rabies Remedies in 19th Century America" --CHASES Lecture

July 11, 2017   Jessica Wang, "Medical Therapeutics, Political Culture, and Global Imperialism: Rabies Remedies in 19th Century America" --CHASES Lecture Wang is Associate Professor, University of British Columbia. She is the author of American Science in an Age of AnxietyScientists, Anticommunism, and the Cold War. She has just completed a book length manuscript, "Mad Dogs and Other New Yorkers: Rabies, Medicine, and Society in an American Metropolis, 1840-1920."

CHASES Welcomed Katherine Jellison

June 26, 2017

Jellison, professor of history at Ohio University, previews her Presidential Address for the Agricultural History Society. Her talk is entitled "Get Your Farm in the Fight. Farm Masculinity in World War II." You can see it at    

Cheiron, the International Society for the History of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, met at Mississippi State June 22-25

June 21, 2017

The Conference Program Was as Follows:   Cheiron: International Society for the History of the Behavioral and Social Sciences49th Annual MeetingMississippi State University (Starkville, MS)June 22-25, 2017 Local Hosts:   Courtney Thompson, assisted by Alexandra Hui and Alan MarcusMississippi State University Program Chair:  Jacy L. Young Thursday June 22 1:00-2:30 Paper Session: Mental Health and Adjustment (Mitchell Memorial Library Auditorium)  Chair: Nancy DigdonJennifer BazarClaimed by the War: The Loss of New York’s Psychopathic Laboratory Alan C. TjeltveitInterpreting the Boulder Conference: The Development of Normative Visions of the Science–Practice Relationship in Clinical Psychology Jonathan MacDonaldReel Guidance: Midcentury Classroom Films and Adolescent Adjustment 2:30-3:30 Break and Poster Session (John Grisham Room)Posters:  Riviane Borghesi Bravo and Raquel Martins de AssisThe Formation of Personality and the Construction of Character: The Appropriation of Lazursky´s Work in Brazil David DevonisThe Evolution of the Concept of Tolerance in US Psychology, 1900-1950 and Beyond3:30-5:00 Paper Session: Philosophy and Faith (Mitchell Memorial Library Auditorium)Chair: Jennifer BazarNancy DigdonAmerican Mental Philosopher, Joseph Haven’s Natural Science of Psychology and Phenomena of Will Robert KugelmannPragmatism and Thomism:  The Personal and Professional Relationship between Adolf Meyer and Thomas Verner Moore Elissa Rodkey and Krista RodkeyFamily, Friends, and Faith-Communities: Intellectual Community and the Benefits of Unofficial Networks for Marginalized Scientists 5:30-9:00 Reception at Alan Marcus’  Friday June 23 7:30-8:30 Breakfast (John Grisham Room) 8:30-8:45 Welcome from Local Host, Courtney Thompson (Mitchell Memorial Library Auditorium) 8:45-10:15 Paper Session 1: Contemporary Issues in Social Science (Mitchell Memorial Library Auditorium)Chair: Elissa RodkeyStephanie PacheViolence as Health Issue: A Political History (United States, 1980-2010) Jill MorawskiOn Replication: Is the Current “Crisis” Repeating the Past? Jacy L. Young and Peter HegartySexual Harassment and the Sexual Politics of Experimental Social Psychology 10:15-10:30 BREAK (John Grisham Room) 10:30-12:00 CONCURRENT SESSIONSPaper Session 1: Heads, Brains, and Minds (Mitchell Memorial Library Auditorium)Chair: Barbara SternErica LillelehtButting Heads? Gendering the Theories and Practices of American Phrenology Tabea CornelLeft-Handed Complements: Forging Connections between Handedness, Speech Ability, and Brain Asymmetry around 1900 Shayna Fox LeePsychology’s Own Mindfulness: Ellen Langer, the Rise of Scientific Interest in Meditation, and the Social Politics of Researching ‘Active Noticing’ Paper Session 2: Social Science (Grisham Room)Chair: Cathy FayeLawrence T. NicholsLouisa Catherine Pinkham: Integrating Psychological Therapies with Sociological Practice Lauren KapsalakisA Community Test-Tube of American Civilization: Burt and Ethel Aginskys’ Social Science Field Laboratory (1939-1947) Leila ZenderlandProducing Transnational Social Science in a Segregated City: Studying “Race and Culture” at Fisk 12:00-12:30 Cheiron Book Prize (Mitchell Memorial Library Auditorium)  Chair: Jerry Sullivan  Susanna Blumenthal, Law and the Modern Mind: Consciousness and Responsibility in American Legal Culture 12:30-1:15 Lunch (Grisham Room) 1:15-2:30 Elizabeth Scarborough Lecture (Mitchell Memorial Library Auditorium)  Chair: Jacy L. Young  Katherine Crawford, Vanderbilt University  Towards an Ethics of Sexual Citizenship 2:30-2:45 BREAK (John Grisham Room) 2:45-4:30 Symposium: One Tree with Two Trunks: The Intertwining Histories of Criminology and Psychology (Mitchell Memorial Library Auditorium)Organizer: Phyllis WentworthChair: David Devonis Courtney ThompsonThe Profile Which Speaks: From the Anatomical to the Psychological in the History of Criminology David DevonisSources of Eclecticism in Prison Reform: Angie Lillian Kellogg’s Reviews of the Literature Regarding Crime, Punishment, and Prisons in the Psychological Bulletin, 1914-1920 Phyllis WentworthCriminology and Psychology in the mid-1960s: The Case of the Draper Project Discussant: David Devonis 4:30-4:45  BREAK (McCool 111 Anteway) 4:45-6:15 Paper Session: Philosophical, Theoretical, and Critical Perspectives (McCool 111) Chair: Shayna Fox LeeMichael R.W. Dawson, Cor Baerveldt, and Evan ShillabeerTraining Generalist Scientists: Joseph R. Royce, Ludwig von Bertalanffy, and Their Plan for the Core Seminar of a Theoretical Psychology Center Saulo de Freitas AraujoThe Relevance of the History of Psychology to Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology Chetan SinhaThe Politics of Indigenous Psychology in India: Critical Perspective 6:15-6:30 BREAK (Anteway of McCool 111) 6:30-7:30 Cheiron Film Night (McCool 111)Cathy Faye, Lizette Royer Barton, and Jodi KearnsThe IQ Zoo Saturday June 24 7:30-8:30 Breakfast (Anteway of McCool 111) 8:30-10:30 Paper Session: Sex, Gender, and Sexuality (McCool 111)Chair: Phyllis WentworthJosé María GondraO.H. Mowrer’s First Research Project: The Missouri “Sex Questionnaire” Rémy AmourouxWas the French Psychoanalyst Marie Bonaparte (1882-1962) a Freudian Orthodox? Rodrigo Lopes Miranda, Ana Maria Del Grossi Ferreira Mota, and Robson Batista Dias“Adjustment Problems” and “Mental Health” in the Arquivos Brasileiros de Psicotécnica (1949-1968): A Case Study on Homosexuality James WalkupAIDS, Psychotherapy, and Struggles Over the “Gay Mind” 10:30-10:45 BREAK (Anteway of McCool 111) 10:45-11:45 Business Meeting (McCool 111) 11:50  CHEIRON TRIPMississippi Delta Excursion with Lunch on the RoadIncluding stops at: Museum of the Mississippi Delta in Greenwood, the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, the Crossroads Art and Cultural Center, the Hopson Plantation and Commissary, and the Ground Zero Blues Club 6:45  Banquet Sunday June 25 8:00-9:00 Breakfast (Anteway of McCool 111) 9:00-10:30 Roundtable: The View from Mississippi: Diversity in Research and Activism in the Social Sciences (McCool 111)Organizer and Moderator: Courtney Thompson, Assistant Professor, HistoryRachel Allison, Assistant Professor, SociologyCarolyn Holmes, Assistant Professor, Political Science and Public AdministrationKimberly Kelly, Director, Gender Studies; Associate Professor, SociologyNicole Rader, Associate Dean, College of Arts & Sciences; Associate Professor, Sociology 10:30-10:45 BREAK (Anteway of McCool 111) 10:45-12:15 Paper Session: 19th and Early 20th Century Psychology (McCool 111)  Chair: Larry Stern William R. WoodwardWhat Lotze meant to American Psychology Hendrika Vande KempEarly Content Analysis of Dreams: Technological Challenges, and Lydiard Horton’s 1914 “Inventorial Record Form for the Analysis of Dreams” and a Decimal System of Classification Sam ParkovnickWilliam McDougall on Instincts

CHASES Hosts Jeremy Vetter

June 7, 2017

Jeremy Vetter, Associate Professor of History, University of Arizona, talked at a CHASES symposium at Mississippi State University. Vetter presentation covered his new book, Field Science in the American West During the Railroad Era, and can be found at

Jim Giesen selected as the Outstanding Graduate Student Mentor

April 30, 2017

Honored formally at the 15th annual Graduate Student Association Awards Banquet, they are among more than 65 cited for various personal accomplishments during the 2016-17 school year at the recent campus event sponsored by the GSA and the Graduate School. MSU Vice President for Student Affairs Regina Young Hyatt was featured speaker. MSU Associate Professor of History James C. “Jim” Giesen received the Outstanding Graduate Student Mentor of the Year Award. A University of Georgia doctoral graduate, he also holds a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, and a bachelor’s degree from DePauw University. His research interests are the agricultural, rural and environmental histories of the U.S., with a particular focus on the South in the 20th century. Giesen was nominated for the award by several of his graduate students. A committee of faculty selected Giesen as extraordinary from a pool of many fine applicants.

SHUR Conference Big Success

April 25, 2017

See Below for the Program of the recent conference. Make plans now for next year.       April 28th and 29th, 2017Mississippi State UniversityDepartment of HistoryFRIDAY, April 28thREGISTRATION  4:00-4:30p.m.Colvard Student Union, Room 328FIRST ROUND OF PANELS  4:30-5:45 p.m. Mississippi as Case StudyComments by Dr. Alix HuiColvard Student Union, Room 330 1A Emma McRaney, Millsaps College“Embracing Corruption: Prolonging the Consequences of Prohibition” 1B Sarah Owen, Millsaps College“The White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the Meridian Jewish Community, 1961-1968” Southern TensionsComments by Dr. Judy RidnerColvard Student Union, Room 329 1C  Cole Abernathy, The Citadel“South Carolina and the Nullification Crisis: An Analysis on Southern Honor, States’ Rights, and the Road to the Civil War” 1D  Tyler Powell, Mississippi State University“The Lost Cause and the Closed Society: James Silver and His Fight against Mississippi's Romantic Remembrance of the Confederacy” 1E  Paige Goldschmidt, Auburn University“The Carpenter Solution: A Look at the Counter-Segregationist Narrative” KEYNOTE ADDRESS  6:00-7:00p.m.Dr. Myrna Santiago, Saint Mary’s College of CaliforniaMcCool Hall, Room 100CONFERENCE BANQUET 7:15-9:00p.m.Little Dooey BBQ SATURDAY, April 29thREGISTRATION 7:30-8:00a.m.McCool Hall AtriumCoffee and light breakfast foods provided SECOND ROUND OF PANELS  8:00-9:15a.m. America and its AffairsComments by Dr. Anne MarshallMcCool Hall, Room 126 2A Andrew Hamilton, University of Virginia’s College at Wise“Lyndon B. Johnson, Harry Byrd, and the War for a Great Society in Virginia” 2B Jeffrey Lauck, Gettysburg College“The Many Faces of the New Left: Students for a Democratic Society in the Vietnam War Era” 2C  James Zimmerman, Hamline University“The State of Education: Reforms that Took Minnesota to the Head of the Class” SECOND ROUND(cont’d)  8:00-9:15a.m. The Civil War: Its Culture and Politics Comments by Dr. Andy LangMcCool Hall, Room 130 2D Amanda MacDonald, Ryerson University“War of Words: How Newspapers Contributed to the Civil War” 2E Blake Johnson, University of St. Thomas“Failing God: Confederate Clergy’s Grapple with the Military” 2F Kristin Holloway, Millsaps College“Conciliating Contradictions: An Examination of Civil War Anomalies” THIRD ROUND OF PANELS 9:30-10:45a.m. America’s Place in the WorldComments by Dr. Matt LavineMcCool Hall, Room 126 3A Charles Roebuck, Mississippi State University, Meridian“A Lesson in Unintended and Unforeseen Consequences: The Kenan Corollary and Columbia” 3B Darren Pomida, Rice University“Bagong Lipunan and the American Century: Ferdinand Marcos and the Filipino-American ‘Special Relationship’” 3C Faith Chamness, Millsaps College“The Isolationist Myth: American Foreign Policy During the Rise of Hitler” World AffairsComments by Dr. Peter MesserMcCool Hall, Room 130 3D Nicholas Musgrave, Hastings College“The Frenchman from County Clare: An Anomaly of National Identity in the Revolutionary Era” 3E Ryan Vopni, Ryerson University“Tribute to the Emperor: A History of Sino-Vietnamese Relations and the Third Indochina War” 3F Peri Imler, Presbyterian College“The Significance of Theatrical Politics in Elizabethan England” FOURTH ROUND OF PANELS  11:00-12:15 Cultural MethodologiesComments by Dr. Muey SaeteurnMcCool Hall, Room 126 4A  Abdullah Barez, Ryerson University“The Parallels in Trauma” 4B Max Shuler, University of Virginia’s College at Wise“The Effects on Integration on the Negro Leagues”4C Catherine Casselman, Sewanee: University of the South“Isolated Histories in an Isolated Community: A Look at the way African-American Women of the Lower Ninth Ward Use Oral History” Constructing DifferencesComments by Dr. Jason WardMcCool Hall, Room 130 4D Charles Johnson, Auburn University“Patrolling the Borders of Whiteness: How the Texas Mexicans Became People of Color” 4E Candice Fountain, Grambling State University“Why Women Continuously Demonstrate for Equality” 4F Leslie William Washington Jr., Grambling State University“The Ebonics Controversy: Inferiority v. Superiority” LUNCH      12:15-1:30Catered sandwiches and saladsMcCool Hall AtriumTransportation available to Comfort Suites and back FIFTH ROUND OF PANELS   1:30-2:45 PolitickingComments by Dr. Davide OrsiniMcCool Hall 126 5A Jaazaniah Catterall, Michigan State University“Alternative Facts of History: A Failed Meeting, A Leap to Conclusions, and Why the Truth Matters” 5B Abigail Panitz, Rice University“‘Intelligence Work’: Watergate and the Implications of Presidential Power” 5C Laurel Teal, Hastings College“Dead Microphones: The Republican Party’s Break from History at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland” Social Movements and the EnvironmentComments by Dr. Jim GiesenMcCool Hall 130 6A  Kyler Genereaux, Utah State University“At Least They Have Their Health: How Sickness and Migration Changed the Environment in 1850-1920 Colorado” 6B  Rebecca Iozzi, University of Virginia’s College at Wise“Helen Matthews Lewis and Her Role in Appalachia’s Environmental Movement” 6C  Duncan Tarr, Michigan State University“Black Against the State: Detroit’s Revolutionary Union Movements, Incarceration, and Surplus Rebellion” SIXTH ROUND OF PANELS   3:00-4:15How to be Men and Women: Discourses on Gender and SexualityComments by Dr. Courtney ThompsonMcCool Hall 130 5 D  Max Farley, Rhodes College“‘A Martyr of ‘78’: White Southern Masculinity Through the life of Reverend Charles C. Parsons” 5E  Vic Overdorf, Butler University“Imprisoning Sexuality: The Abuses of the State in Homosexual Male Incarceration at Alcatraz Federal  Penitentiary (1934-1957)”

Mississippi State history graduate student Christina Gusella named the recipient of the Dr. János Radványi Memorial Scholarship.

April 20, 2017

MSU History Grad Student Receives Radványi Memorial ScholarshipMississippi State University Department of History graduate student Christina E. Gusella of Alexandria, VA, has been named this year’s recipient of the International Institute’s Dr. János Radványi Memorial Scholarship. Awarded by the International Institute’s Office of Study Abroad, the scholarship honors the legendary international security and strategic studies pioneer who died in 2016 at the age of 93 following an extended illness. The scholarship was established by many of Radványi’s friends around the world, as well as his daughter, Julianna Radványi-Szűcs of Budapest, Hungary, and his son, János Radványi, Jr. of Soquel, California. Gusella is receiving a $1,500 award and copy of Radványi’s book “Delusion and Reality: Gambits, Hoaxes and Diplomatic One-Upmanship in Vietnam.” Gusella is currently a master’s student in Mississippi State’s Department of History, where her research centers on Cold War propaganda and Soviet cultural diplomacy in the 1960s. She was selected for her dedication to building a broad understanding and appreciation for global political, cultural, economic, environmental and security issues through international education. As part of scholarship requirements, Gusella will maintain a travel blog throughout her ten-week study abroad experience in Moscow, Russia, scheduled for summer 2017. In addition to attending language and cultural exchange courses, Gusella says she is looking forward to conducting research at the State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF) and having the opportunity to visit famed historic sites. She plans to document her observations through writing and photography. She also anticipates writing her dissertation on some aspect of Russian history, which her trip will assist with greatly. Prior to receiving political asylum in the United States in 1968, Budapest native Radványi served as Hungary’s ambassador to the United States.After relocating to California to complete a doctorate in history at Stanford University, he joined the MSU history faculty in 1972. He founded the Center for International Security and Strategic Studies a decade later and, in 1996, the university named him the first chair holder for the International Security and Strategic Studies chair. His scholarly work focused on research, including extensive writing and the teaching of special seminars. Radványi devoted full attention to vital international problems with emphasis on the post-communist era’s complex security issues. He also was active in the new research field of environmental security. Gusella says she is deeply honored to be awarded the Radványi Memorial Scholarship.

Robert Frey earns Mueller Scholars Award of the National World War II Museum.

April 12, 2017

A department of history undergraduate, Robert Frey, has won a prestigious scholarship to go to Normandy with the National WWII Museum this summer. The Mueller Scholars Award is an endowment set up for Dr. Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, co-founder of the Museum and its current President & CEO.

Three New Books by Recent PhD Students

March 14, 2017

• Jeffery B. Howell, Hazel Brannon Smith: The Female Crusading Scalawag (University Press of Mississippi, 2017) – out now   • Michael J. Goleman, Your Heritage Will Still Remain: Racial Identity and Mississippi's Lost Cause (University Press of Mississippi) May 1, 2017   • William Harrison Taylor, Unity in Christ and Country: American Presbyterians in the Revolutionary Era, 1758–1801 (University of Alabama Press, 2017) – available June 6

MSU history professor receives important Humboldt fellowship

March 10, 2017

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University Associate Professor of History Alexandra “Alix” Hui will spend three summers in Germany after receiving a Humbodt Research Fellowship for Experienced Scholars, one of the most prestigious academic awards in Germany. Given by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the awards are designed to foster international exchange and networking among scientists and scholars. Hui is among several faculty members in the MSU History Department researching the history of science and technology as part of the department’s History of Science and Technology Node of Excellence. “Professor Hui’s award points to the international prominence of Mississippi State’s History of Science and Technology Node of Excellence, both as a research and teaching enterprise,” William L. Giles Distinguished Professor and MSU History Department Head Alan Marcus said. “Hui and her colleagues are making quite a name for themselves in America and abroad.” Hui’s recent research examines how music impacts the way people perceive and experience the world around them. She focuses on the construction of perceptual and material sonic spaces. She also researches how governments and corporations have used music in public spaces to influence people, such as factories in the early 20th century using music to help employees work at a faster pace. As part of the fellowship, Hui will spend the summers of 2017, 2018 and 2019 working in Germany. Going abroad during the summer allows Hui to continue her teaching and research at MSU during the fall and spring semesters. “In addition to receiving this award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, it is a tremendous honor to receive the support of the host institutions,” Hui said. “Both the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin and the Rachel Carson Center for the Environment and Society in Munich are considered some of the most elite institutions in the world in their respective research fields.”  Before joining MSU’s history faculty in 2009, Hui received her doctorate and master’s degrees in history from the University of California at Los Angeles. She received her bachelor’s in physics, with a concentration on astronomy and astrophysics from Pomona College. For more on Hui and her research, see // More on the Humboldt Foundation can be found at

Alison Collis Greene Wins Prestigious Sydnor Award For Best Book in Southern History

October 30, 2016

Southern Historical Association announces Charles S. Sydnor Award Winner     The Southern Historical Association is pleased to announce that the 2016 winner of the Charles S. Sydnor Award is Alison Collis Greene, Assistant Professor of History at Mississippi State University in Mississippi State, MS for her 2015 Oxford University Press book,    No Depression in Heaven: The Great Depression, the New Deal, and the Transformation of  Religion in the Delta.    First awarded in 1956, the Sydnor Award recognizes the best book in  southern history published in that year. In recommending Greene’s book for the prize, the  prize committee praised Greene’s “stunning analysis of cultural, political, and religious transformation in the Depression-era South.  Black and white southerners in the Mississippi and Arkansas Delta, a stronghold of evangelical Protestantism, experienced wrenching poverty  and malnutrition well before the 1929 stock market crash, and Greene depicts their plight succinctly and poignantly. She explores the inability of the region's churches to meet their  needs, and the churches’ turn to the federal government for help. This shift in orientation and expectations marked a dramatic break for southern evangelicals, both black and white, one  that lasted after the New Deal. It also gave rise to an antigovernment backlash from religious and political leaders who recognized a real challenge to their authority and to the broader  system of racial dominance. At the same time, this conservative response contributed to the myth of family and community grit as the source of southerners’ survival during the  Depression. In remarkable prose and drawing on rich sources, Greene provides a model of cultural and social history that any twentieth- century historian, indeed every historian, should.”

Jason Ward Named Beverly B. and Gordon W. Gulmon Deans Eminent Scholar

October 26, 2016

At a ceremony on October 11, Jason Ward was named Beverly B. and Gordon W. Gulmon Deans Eminent Scholar. This designation is to recognize extensive merit in a faculty member within the A&S college. In his eight years as a faculty member at Mississippi State University, Dr. Ward has amassed an impressive publication record, established an important national reputation, and demonstrated a commitment to public scholarship. In addition to publishing two books, Hanging Bridge: Racial Violence and America's Civil Rights Century (Oxford, 2016) and Defending White Democracy: The Making of a Segregationist Movement and the Remaking of Racial Politics (UNC Press, 2011), Ward has published eight peer-reviewed articles and book chapters as well a scholarly introduction for a forthcoming book reissue. A thoughtful commentator on the connections between historical and contemporary challenges to racial justice, Ward has been featured on National Public Radio and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. His published commentary on race and violence, most notably his Los Angeles Times essay on the Charleston church shootings and various pieces on the Confederate battle flag controversy, underscores his commitment to public scholarship and racial justice. In addition to interviews and published commentary, Ward maintains an active presentation schedule that extends beyond scholarly conferences, nationally televised author panels and invited talks at colleges and universities across the country.

Mississippi State History Gives Back to the Community

October 20, 2016

Mississippi State History is committed to giving back to the community. While our efforts are many, two bear noting.   We support the Eighth of May celebration in Columbus, which marks the anniversary of the arrival of the Union army and the freeing of enslaved African American men and women. Held in the city’s old Black cemetery, students from the Mississippi School for Math and Science do research about the lives of slaves and new freemen buried in those plots, dress up in period garb, and portray these almost forgotten individuals. These interpretive narratives serve as a means of remembrance of Mississippi’s slave owning past, while the students themselves point to a much more optimistic future.   We also support an inner city school for bright, economically disadvantaged, students in New York City. The Excellence Boys Charter School, the all-boys K-8 charter school in Brooklyn, New York takes as its mission to prepare students to enter, succeed in, and graduate from outstanding high schools and colleges. We regularly pepper them with MSU regalia—pennants, pencils, t-shirts and, of course, cowbells. We also write students, telling them what we do at the university and how our university educations had made a fundamental changes in our lives.

Stephen Brain Selected as MSU Humanities Teacher of the Year

October 18, 2016

STARKVILLE, Miss.—An associate professor of history and two-time recipient of the prestigious Fulbright Fellowship is Mississippi State’s 2016 Humanities Teacher of the Year. The selection of Stephen Brain is being announced by the university’s College of Arts and Sciences, along with the Mississippi Humanities Council. As part of the honor, Brain will be recognized during the Mississippi Humanities Council’s awards ceremony in Jackson next February. Additionally, he will present the college’s annual humanities lecture next month. Titled “Biospheres of Influence: The Creation of Artificial Environments in the Soviet Union and the United States,” his address begins at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday [Nov. 29] in the Shackouls Honors College Forum Room. The event is free to all, as is a reception immediately following in the same fourth-floor Bryce Griffis Residence Hall location in the university’s Zacharias Village. Along with formally presenting a topic of his choosing to members of the campus and surrounding communities, Brain is receiving a $300 honorarium. A faculty member in the university’s Department of History since 2007, Brain has served as an assistant and associate professor. He has taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses over the years, including ones on Russian, Soviet Union and European history. “I am truly honored to be selected as the Humanities Teacher of the Year. Like my colleagues in the history department, teaching is very important to me, and it is very gratifying to be recognized for my efforts,” said Brain, who also serves as his department’s graduate program coordinator. “Historians at Mississippi State are expected to focus their attention on publishing articles and books and the creation of new knowledge, and awards such as these demonstrate that the College of Arts and Sciences also recognizes the importance of teaching in good scholarship,” Brain added. As a 2013-14 recipient of the prestigious Fulbright Fellowship, Brain traveled to Rostov-on-Don, Russia, where he and his family lived and worked 30 miles from the Ukraine border. In addition to teaching World Environmental History and Western Historiography courses, Brain conducted research on Russian agriculture and its relation to Russian history at Southern Federal University. Specifically, Brain’s research focus while abroad involved the environmental influence of collectivism. For more, visit In 2005-06, Brain was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to Moscow, Russia, where he worked in the State Archive of the Russian Federation, Russian State Economic Archive, Moscow Oblast Regional Archives, and the Archive of the Communist Party. A member of multiple professional organizations, Brain also is the author of “The Environmental History of the Soviet Union” in the textbook “A Companion to Global Environmental History” (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), as well as “Song of the Forest: Russian Forestry and Stalin’s Environmentalism” (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011), among other published works. After completing a bachelor of science in wildlife ecology in 1994, Brain went on to earn a master of arts in humanities from California State University in 2000. He earned his doctorate in history from the University of California-Berkeley in 2007. For more biographical information, visit For more on Brain’s humanities lecture, contact Gretchen Crawford, academic programs assistant for the College of Arts and Sciences, at 662-325-2645 or Learn more about MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences at; its Department of History at

Humanities at MSU rated in top 40 by the National Science Foundation

October 18, 2016

STARKVILLE, Miss.--A new report from the National Science Foundation again finds Mississippi State Humanities ranked among the nation’s top 40 research institutions. The recently released NSF Higher Education Research and Development Survey for Fiscal Year 2014 places the university at 37th overall among public and private institutions in the country, based on $2.1 million in total research and development expenditures. Research at Mississippi State is an important success story, said David Shaw, vice president for research and economic development. “Our faculty, staff and students engaged in world-class research are solving problems, developing new technologies, and creating opportunities that benefit our state and nation,” he said. The survey is the primary source of information about research and development expenditures at U.S. colleges and universities, according to the NSF.

MSU Alum and Noted Civil War Author, Mike Ballard, has Died

October 12, 2016

Michael B. Ballard was a native of Ackerman, MS. He earned his B.A. degree in history at Mississippi State University in 1975, his M.A. in history and archives at MSU in 1976, and his Ph.D. in history at MSU in 1983. He was an archivist in MSU's Mitchell Memorial Library from 1983 to 2011, serving successively as Associate University Archivist, University Archivist, and University Archivist and Coordinator of the Congressional Collection. He was also associate editor of the U. S. Grant publishing projects. In addition to his 11 books, Ballard has published some 25 articles and over 75 book reviews. His books A Long Shadow: Jefferson Davis and the Final Days of the Confederacy, Pemberton: A Biography, and Vicksburg: The Campaign That Opened the Mississippi were History Book Club selections. Pemberton was chosen as best non-fiction book by a Mississippi author in 1991 by the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters. Ballard's writings on the Civil War led to numerous speaking appearances before many Civil War round tables and symposiums, professional meetings of historical societies and associations, and civic groups. He had also served as a consultant to several university presses and in 1998 appeared as a guest historian on the Greystone Television production regarding the fate of Confederate gold; the program has aired on the History Channel and the A&E Network. In 2005, Ballard received the Dunbar Rowland Award from the Mississippi Historical Society in recognition of his scholarly publications and other contributions to the documentation of Mississippi history.

Courtney Thompson Awarded the Audrey and William H. Helfand Fellowship in the History of Medicine and Public Health

October 4, 2016

The Audrey and William H. Helfand Fellowship in the History of Medicine and Public Health supports research using New York Academy library resources for scholarly study of the history of medicine and public health with an emphasis on visual culture. It is intended specifically for a scholar in residence at the Academy Library. The Academy's Library holds a particularly rich collection of images related to the history of medicine and public health dating from the early modern era into the twentieth century. A diverse collection, including illustrated books, prints, broadsides, pamphlets, and printed medical ephemera, documents changes in clinical medicine and research, the evolution of medical practice, the history of public health and public responses to these developments.  The collections form an extraordinary primary resource for scholars in history, popular culture, the sciences and social sciences, the history of printing and the graphic arts. The Helfand Fellow spends at least four weeks in New York City, working at The New York Academy of Medicine. Fellows present a seminar at the Academy and contribute a post for our blog.

19th Century U.S. African American History. Assistant Professor

August 22, 2016

The History Department of Mississippi State University invites applications for a tenure-track appointment in 19th Century U.S. African American History, beginning August 16, 2017. Teaching responsibilities are two courses per semester. Offerings include undergraduate and graduate courses in the areas of expertise, a turn in the United States survey course, and graduate seminars. Demonstrated ability to contribute to the department’s longstanding Ph.D. program and vibrant intellectual and professional life is especially favored. A Ph.D. in history by time of appointment is required. Evidence of successful teaching and publications in the subject area are preferred. Also preferred is the ability to broaden the department's offerings in African American or 19th Century US History. Salary is commensurate with qualifications. Application must be received by November 5, 2016 to guarantee full consideration. Please include e-mail address to facilitate contact. All applicants must complete the Personal Data Information form online at Send a cover letter, curriculum vitae, and three letters of recommendation to Professor Alan I Marcus, Professor and Head, P.O. Box H, Mississippi State, MS 39762. E-mail applications to are preferred. MSU is an equal opportunity employer, and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, ethnicity, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), national origin, disability status, age, sexual orientation, genetic information, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law. We always welcome nominations and applications from women, members of any minority group, and others who share our passion for building a diverse community that reflects the diversity in our student population. 

History Grad Students Excel in National Arena, Win Prestigious Awards

July 27, 2016

National fellowships recognizing work of MSU doctoral students July 27, 2016 Contact: Hannah Bateman STARKVIILE, Miss.—Mississippi State graduate students from Louisiana, Michigan and Tennessee are spending the summer conducting dissertation research with fellowships awarded by prominent national organizations. All pursuing history doctorates at the university, they include: —Owen J. Hyman of Talisheek, Louisiana. Receiving the Forest History Society’s inaugural Walter S. Rosenberry Fellowship in Forest and Conservation History, he is investigating how ideas about the landscape help shape Southern race and labor concepts. —Kelli B. Nelson of Johnson City, Tennessee. A fellow at the Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library in Newark, Delaware, she is investigating issues of death and dying to better understand the complexities of 19th century environmental thought. A major focus is the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, that is second only to Arlington National as the most-visited U.S. burial ground. —Nicholas A. “Nick” Timmerman of Flint, Michigan. A 2016-17 Library Resident Research Fellow at the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he is working to examine 19th and 20th century American perceptions of Native American mounds found throughout the South. His fellowship is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation of New York. In addition to their individual dissertation efforts, Nelson and Timmerman are involved in a collaborative digital project titled “A Shaky Truce: Civil Rights Struggles in Starkville, Mississippi, 1960-1980.” Earlier this year, the project was honored with the Mississippi Historical Society’s Oral History Award. In 2015, Nelson and Hyman were chosen for other significant honors. Specifically: —Nelson was a selection for a Mellon Fellowship awarded by the Virginia Historical Society. —Hyman received the Reed Fink Award for Southern Labor History given by the Southern Labor Archives at Georgia State University. He also received the Halloran Prize in History of Corporate Responsibility presented by the Business History Conference and Center for Ethical Business Cultures at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. “The success of our students in winning prestigious awards are testaments to their creativity and the educations they have gained at Mississippi State,” said history department head Alan Marcus. Also an MSU William L. Giles Distinguished Professor, Marcus said all three students are being prepared to “compete at the highest professional levels with historians throughout the world.” The history department is among 14 major academic units in MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences. For more on the department, visit; the college, at Information about the organizations awarding the fellowships is found at,, and MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at  

Sarah Lewin Manages Mississippi State History Facebook and Twitter Pages

June 28, 2016

Sarah Lewin came to Mississippi State History a year ago from Oglethorpe University to pursue her Ph.D. degree. She studies the history of science and is particularly interested in early modern and 19th century European science. Poison is one of her particular interests. A proponent of social media, she follows Emily Gunther, who inaugurated the department's Facebook and Twitter pages. Follow her at and Sarah welcomes new items of interest as well as comments. She hopes to make these pages truly interactive. You can email her at She will be update the various sites periodically this summer.

Marcus Named Fellow of the Agricultural History Society

June 27, 2016

At its annual meeting in New York City this year, the Agricultural History Society conferred upon Alan I Marcus the designation of Fellow of the Agricultural History Society for "his high standards of scholarship and service to the organization." The number of Fellows is strictly limited by the society's by-laws.

Matthew Lavine Wins American Chemical Society's History Award

June 2, 2016

Lavine won the award for his paper entitled "The Two Faces of Radium in Early American Nuclear Culture." It was printed in the Bulletin for the History of Chemistry, 2014, 39(1), pp. 53-63. Lavine will receive the award at the American Chemical Society's August meeting in Philadelphia.

MSU history major receives inaugural János Radványi Memorial Scholarship

May 27, 2016

STARKVILLE, Miss.— Mississippi State junior history major Kelley C. Mazzola of Starkville has been named the inaugural recipient of the Dr. János Radványi Memorial Scholarship. Awarded by the International Institute’s Office of Study Abroad, the scholarship honors the longtime member of the Mississippi State University history department and legendary international security and strategic studies pioneer who died in January at the age of 93 following an extended illness. The scholarship was established by Radványi’s daughter, Julianna Radványi-Szűcs of Budapest, Hungary, and son János Radványi Jr. of Soquel, California. Mazzola is receiving a $1,000 award and copy of Radványi’s book “Delusion and Reality: Gambits, Hoaxes and Diplomatic One-Upmanship in Vietnam.” She was selected for her dedication to building a broad understanding and appreciation for global political, cultural, economic, environmental and security issues through international education. As part of scholarship requirements, Mazzola will maintain a travel blog throughout her six-week study abroad experience in Berlin, Germany, scheduled for July and August. In addition to attending language and cultural exchange courses, Mazzola said she is looking forward to gaining insight on the development of German culture. She plans to document her observations through writing and photography. “History is never fixed or determined in how it occurs, but history molds and marks the landscape and culture that experienced those historical events,” she said. “Seeing and experiencing  culture first-hand, rather than only getting the information second-hand in a book, is a great way to understand how a culture came to be.” Mazzola said she was surprised and honored to be selected as the inaugural recipient of the Radványi Memorial Scholarship. “Being one of the first to honor Dr. Radványi’s legacy to Mississippi State and the career in diplomacy that he left behind is a lot to live up to, but an exciting challenge,” she said. “I did not have the good fortune to be acquainted with Dr. Radványi, but learning about his legacy left me feeling that he was a great man and a wonderful role model.”  Prior to receiving political asylum in the United States in 1968, Budapest native Radványi served as Hungary’s ambassador to the United States. After relocating to California to complete a doctorate in history at Stanford University, he joined the MSU history faculty in 1972. He founded the Center for International Security and Strategic Studies a decade later and, in 1996, the university named him the first chair holder for the International Security and Strategic Studies chair. His scholarly work focused on research, including extensive writing and the teaching of special seminars. Radványi devoted full attention to vital international problems with emphasis on the post-communist era’s complex security issues. He also was active in the new research field of environmental security.

MSU professor pens book on Shubuta Bridge lynchings

May 20, 2016

Contact: Zack Plair  MERIDIAN, Miss.—A Mississippi State associate professor of history has released a new book chronicling events in a small Mississippi town that is home to a tragic monument to racial struggle. Written by Jason Morgan Ward and published by Oxford University Press, “Hanging Bridge: Racial Violence and America’s Civil Rights Century” examines decades of racial tension in the Clarke County town of Shubuta, where a bridge that crosses the Chickasawhay River served as the site for lynchings. Morgan will sign copies of his book at 5-7 p.m. Thursday [May 26] in the Phil Hardin Foundation Library on MSU-Meridian’s College Park Campus. Ward, who joined MSU’s faculty in 2008, said the book focuses on three major events in Shubuta, two of which involved the steel-framed bridge. In 1918, a mob lynched four young blacks, including two men and two pregnant women. Twenty-four years later, in 1942, two black teenagers were lynched there. The book also recounts the height of Shubuta’s civil rights movement in 1966 and highlights the efforts of local civil rights activists. “This story is told over such a long period of time, so you see different characters, events and themes elevated,” Ward said. “There are lots of communities in Mississippi that have their own stories like this that haven’t been told. I would like for this to be a model for seeking out these stories and thinking about new structures for telling them.” Both Shubuta bridge lynchings occurred in an era of world war, when Ward said bubbling social conflicts and anxieties reached new heights. Membership to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People grew during both world wars, he said, and pressure on the government to make social changes increased on many fronts. Also, economic shifts brought by the wars allowed blacks opportunities for higher paying jobs, which Ward said challenged the prevailing class structure and helped people leave a system of debt and credit that had kept them in a cycle of poverty. Challenges to economic and class themes re-emerged in Shubuta in the late 1960s, Ward added, especially when the Head Start anti-poverty program offered jobs to African American women that paid three times more than common subservient labor. Time Magazine has published an excerpt from the book’s introduction, and Ward has talked about it in interviews for National Public Radio and Vice Magazine. He said what he thinks makes the story so unique is having the bridge, which is still standing, as a physical device tying it together. “Every town is famous for something,” he said. “You just don’t necessarily get to choose what that thing is.” This is Morgan’s second published book. His first, “Defending White Democracy: The Making of a Segregationist Movement and the Remaking of Racial Politics, 1936-65,” was released in 2011.

Nick Timmerman and Kelli Nelson Awarded Short Term Research Fellowships

May 9, 2016

Kelli Nelson and Nick Timmerman, Ph.D. students in our graduate program, each received a fellowship to an outstanding repository. Timmerman's fellowship is an Andrew Mellon award to do research at the American Philosophical Society for his dissertation on the Indian Mounds of Alabama. Nelson's award is to the Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library in Delaware. Nelson is studying practices surrounding death and dying in mid-19th century America.

Marcus Chosen as Giles Distinguished Professor

May 3, 2016

One of the highest awards the University can bestow upon a faculty member is that of William L. Giles Distinguished Professor. It is not a faculty rank but an honorary distinction. This recognition is based on distinguished scholarship as evidenced by a record of outstanding research, teaching, and service and is conferred only on a faculty member at Mississippi State University who has attained national or international status. For the ceremony, see For other Giles Distinguished Professors

SHUR Conference--A Rousing Success

May 2, 2016

Despite the inclement weather, the SHUR Conference went off without a hitch. Good papers and intellectual exchange characterized the event.   SHUR CONFERENCE April 29th and 30th, 2016 Mississippi State University Department of History FRIDAY, April 29th REGISTRATION                                           4:00-5:00 Colvard Student Union, Room 227             FIRST ROUND OF PANELS                       5:00-6:15 p.m.   Social Connections, at Home and Abroad Comments by Dr. Alix Hui Colvard Student Union, Room 231 1A        Rachael Damms, Mississippi University for Women “Secrets Do Make Friends: Uncovering the History of MUW’s Social Clubs” 1B        Kayla Robison, Mississippi University for Women             “Counterculture in Mississippi during the 1960s and 1970s”   1C        Ryan Lawrence, Mississippi State “Mutual Misunderstandings: A Study on Ida Honoré Grant’s Austrian Experience” KEYNOTE ADDRESS                                  6:30-7:30 Dr. Patrick Rael, Bowdoin College Mitchell Memorial Library Auditorium   CONFERENCE BANQUET                       7:45-9:30 Little Dooey BBQ SATURDAY, April 30th REGISTRATION                                           7:30-8:30 McCool Hall Atrium Coffee and light breakfast foods provided   SECOND ROUND OF PANELS                 8:30-9:50   Religious Faiths in Political Contexts Comments by Dr. Alison Greene McCool Hall, Room 126 2A        Gerret Treas, Murray State University “Quakers and Gnostics: Inward Light of Intuitive Knowing”   2B        Fidelia Renne, Wheaton College “Peace In Translation: A Historical Reflection on the Acculturation of Mennonite Peace Theology Amidst Nicaraguan Political Conflict (1977-1990)”   2C        Lydia Biggs, Murray State University “Transnational Influences of Early Jesuit Scholars and Explorers in the New World from 1560-1700”     SECOND ROUND  (cont’d)                         8:30-9:50   Knowledge from—and about—the land Comments by Dr. Mark Hersey McCool Hall, Room 130 2D       Tim T. Wang, Rice University             “Preserving the Spirit of National Parks: The U.S. Army in Yellowstone”   2E        Tajdeep Brar, Ryerson University “Lead Poisoning and the Fall of Rome: An Exploration of the Theory and the Impact of Lead Exposure on Aristocratic Roman Children”   2F        Roger Liang, Rice University             “PSAC, the Environment, and Denialism”   COFFEE BREAK                                          9:50-10:30 McCool Hall Atrium   THIRD ROUND OF PANELS                     10:30-11:50   Conflict Theses Comments by Dr. Richard Damms McCool Hall, Room 126 3A        Robert Frey, Mississippi State University “Georgia, Jackson, and the Bank War: Public Reaction in Georgia to Andrew Jackson’s Attack on the Second National Bank”   3B        R. Conrad Freeman, University of Idaho “The Dust Covered Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses S. Grant and His Victories that Preserved Our Nation 1862 to 1865”   3C        Alyssa Leet, Murray State University             “Gunsei, Minshi”   The Construction and Deconstruction of African-American Identities Comments by Dr. Marsha Barrett McCool Hall, Room 130 3D       John Christian Kuehnert, Covenant University “Domination and Oppression: a Brief Analysis of Language as a Form of Subordination in Civil War Runaway Slave Ads”   3E        Charles W. Johnson, Auburn University “Are Mose and Minerva Less Distinctive than Lakisha and Jamal? The Use and Abuse of Distinctively Black Names in Slavery and in Freedom”   3F        Caroline Gray, Mississippi College “The Bulldogs: Poor Whites and White Supremacy in Hinds County, 1865 – 1877”     LUNCH                                                         12:00-1:30 Catered sandwiches McCool Hall Atrium Transportation available to Comfort Suites and back   FOURTH ROUND OF PANELS                 1:30-2:50   The “Place” of Women in Twentieth Century American Culture Comments by Dr. Matthew Lavine McCool Hall, Room 126 4A        Briana McManus, University of Maryland-College Park             “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”   4B        Sydney Phillips, University of California-Davis "Romance Comic Books and Magazines: The Cold War, Anti-Feminism, and Teaching Women Their Place"   4C        Erin Blackledge, University of Southern Mississippi             “Edith Cavell and the Great War Propaganda: Impacts on American Feminism”   Racial Politics from Reconstruction to the Present Comments by Dr. Andrew Lang McCool Hall, Room 130 4D       Ashia Caraway, Grambling State University “Double Negatives: How Black female intellectuals have come to defy respectability politics yet still have to conform to mainstream standards”   4E        Olivier Péloquin, Université de Montréal             “Adelbert Ames and Reconstruction’s Last Stand in Mississippi”   4F        Kayla J. McClellan, Grambling State University “Activist First: Robinson's Claim to Fame Readjusted” FIFTH ROUND OF PANELS                      3:00-4:00   American Social History Comments by Dr. Judith Ridner McCool Hall 126 5A        David Rothmund, Elmhurst College “The Dichotomy between Gender, Race, and Law in Antebellum America”   5B        William H. Smith III, Kutztown University             “Perspectives of Reconstruction: 1900 To the Present Day”   5C        Nicholas Fleder, Rice Universtiy             “The Great Escapade: Yosemite and the Knots of the American Leisure Movement”

Mississippi State Makes its Presence Known at the Seattle Environmental History Meeting

April 16, 2016

The Department of History’s Center for the History of Agriculture, Science, and the Environment of the South (CHASES) was quite visible at the recent annual meeting of the American Society for Environmental History, the world’s oldest and largest organization of environmental historians. It sponsored the graduate student reception where nearly a hundred graduate students from across the country and around the world mingled and talked shop. Mississippi State was also well represented in the meeting’s intellectual pursuits. Two faculty members and five graduate students presented their research at the meeting on topics ranging from connections between Indian mounds and the southern landscape to the debate about underground wilderness in Mammoth Cave, from the relationship between ethnicity and soil conservation in Revolutionary Russia to late-20th century geological change in California.

Phi Alpha Theta Announces Prize Winners

April 6, 2016

Phi Alpha Theta held its annual banquet April 5 at the Historic Hotel Chester. Nearly 100 people attended. Ben Wise gave a rousing speech in which he considered the union in conversation of religion and SEC football. Much discussion ensued.  Some 25 people were inducted into the Gamma Nu chapter, sheltered at Mississippi State History. Established in 1950, the banquet was graced by Dr. Martha Swain, who as an undergraduate had signed the initial chapter charter.   Award winners included: Martha Swain Outstanding Scholar Award, given annually to the underraduate best exhibiting academic leadership and substance—Ryan LawrenceM. Shannon Mallard Award, for the best undergraduate paper presented in a history course—Zachary WarrenGeorge Robson Prize, for the best graduate paper presented in a history course—Emily GuntherWilliam E. Parrish Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award—Larsen PlylerWilliam E. Parrish Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award—Alexandra Hui Bettersworth-Moore Winner is Kelley Mazzola Whitaker-DeSantis Awardee is Kristin Veasley  

Stephen Brain Chosen Arts & Sciences Humanities Teacher of the Year

April 4, 2016

Brain was presented his award by Interim Dean, Rick Travis

Julia Osman receives National Endowment for the Humanities Grant for “Disciplining War and the Civilian Imagination in France, 1600-1789.”

April 3, 2016

Osman received her Summer Stipend award as part of the NEH’s “Standing Together: Humanities and the Experience of War” initiative. This program employs the humanities to help understand the complex and fluctuating relations between soldiers and the people for whom they fight. The project argues that attempts to distance citizens from war ironically can make warfare more likely and appealing. Osman starts from the premise that war and military violence were part and parcel of everyday life in the seventeenth century but had become something only imagined in the eighteenth. Soldiers were physically separated from the populace, their military exploits and conquests known and ‘experienced’ only through reading juicy, sensationalized literature. Osman concludes that this romantic, sanitized distancing of war from daily existence may well have paved the way for war’s rising popularity in the later eighteenth century. Mass citizens armies and ‘total wars’ would characterize the French Revolution and beyond.

“A Shaky Truce: Starkville Civil Rights Struggles, 1960-1980” Receives MSU Diversity Award

April 2, 2016

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Nearly a dozen Mississippi State students, faculty and staff members are being recognized for individual and group actions during the school year that served to enhance university diversity. The 2016 group formally was recognized at a recent MSU President’s Commission on the Status of Minorities ceremony. In announcing the winners, commission chair Lakiesha Williams praised all for “stepping outside of their norm and exhibiting a great passion for exploring and promoting diversity. “Each year, we’ve seen an increase in our nomination packets; we had the most ever,” Williams said. “Our winners have displayed diversity in a wide range of ways, from research collaboration and community events to establishing STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] programs and starting organizations to empower underrepresented females and minorities.” Honorees include: —“A Shaky Truce: Starkville Civil Rights Struggles, 1960-1980” Project, Team Award. An ongoing effort between faculty and students in the history department and MSU Libraries, the web-based project highlights Starkville’s civil rights movement through the use of digitized archival documents and oral history interviews. Faculty leaders for the project include associate professor Judith Ridner of the history department and assistant professors Hillary A. H. Richardson and Nickoal Eichmann of MSU Libraries. “Shaky Truce” student collaborators included senior Christine M. Dunn, a secondary education/English education major from Niceville, Florida; history doctoral students Michael T. Murphy of Crystal River, Florida, Kelli B. Nelson of Johnson City, Tennessee, and Nicholas A. “Nick” Timmerman of Flint, Michigan; and Daáiyah R. Heard of Columbus, a 2015 history master’s degree graduate. Murphy also is an MSU history master’s graduate. In his remarks at the ceremony, President Mark E. Keenum praised the commission for promoting an “inclusive campus family” both internally and externally. “Many people know that we are an accepting, opening, welcoming, nurturing institution,” he said. “When it comes to our student body, we have the most diverse campus among any of the other universities, by far, within our Southeastern Conference,” the chief executive and MSU alumnus continued. He also noted that the university remains among the most diverse historically white land-grant institutions in the U.S. Beyond sizeable African-American and international student populations, MSU is home to a diverse teaching faculty. “Diversity is what empowers an institution and the people within it, and we are working hard to help uplift our university through diversity,” Keenum emphasized.

'A Shaky Truce" - Civil Rights Struggles in Starkville, Mississippi, 1960-1980" Wins Mississippi Historical Society Oral History Award

February 23, 2016

Civil Rights forum highlights struggle, progress October 30, 2015 Contact: Zack Plair STARKVILLE, Miss.—In a crowded ballroom in Starkville’s Hilton Garden Inn, Oktibbeha County native Chris Taylor spoke candidly about his experiences growing up African American in the segregated South. Serving on a panel gathered to discuss that very issue, Taylor looked into a room of faces – some white, some black, some of other races or ethnicities – all listening intently. There was no “white” or “colored” side of the room. Everyone sat together. It wasn’t always like that in Starkville, said Taylor, the president of the Oktibbeha County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Seeing it, he added, showed just how far things had come. “We have come a long way as a society, and we (African Americans) are now in a position where we are not afraid,” Taylor said. “There was a time you couldn’t say things like this to a crowd like this.” A two-hour community forum Thursday night [Oct. 29] highlighted the struggles of African Americans during Starkville’s civil rights movement, starting from its slow-moving grassroots beginnings in the early 1960s through the public school desegregation process in the early 70s. Others serving on the panel included Shirley Hanshaw, associate English professor at Mississippi State University; Michael Vinson Williams, dean of social sciences at Tougaloo College; and Stephanie Rolph, an assistant professor of history at Millsaps College.  Funded by the Mississippi Humanities Council, the forum, “A Shaky Truce: Civil Rights Struggles in Starkville, MS, 1960-1980,” was a collaboration between the university’s history department and MSU Libraries.  The forum also debuted a digital history website ( on Starkville’s civil rights movement, with interviews compiled by a team led by associate professor of history Judy Ridner, and assistant professors Hillary Richardson and Nickoal Eichmann with MSU’s Mitchell Memorial Library. While the website now includes 16 interviews giving firsthand accounts of Starkville’s civil rights movement, Ridner showed brief clips of some of the interviews Thursday to sum up the story of the team’s research findings. While Starkville’s movement didn’t become as physically violent as other more notable movements of the era in Mississippi, Ridner said it didn’t “go smoothly.” In fact, interviews pointed to local blacks being slow to organize because of fear of reprisal from whites. Once the NAACP started a Starkville chapter in 1969, marches, protests and a boycott of downtown businesses followed. The flashpoint of Starkville’s public school desegregation in 1971 brought the struggle to a head, Ridner observed, with black unrest and white resistance to change reaching their height. Still, as project participant Nancy Bardwell noted during a part of her interview shown during Thursday’s event, life went on. Now a library associate with MSU, Bardwell was among the African American students who desegregated Starkville High School in 1971, and she remembered feeling awkward. “There was still a divide in the classroom,” she said. “It was obvious we didn’t want to be there, and (the whites) didn’t want us there. But that was just the way it was, and we made the best of it.” In another interview, Starkville resident Minnie McCarter noted that, over time, the integrated classes “made it work,” and many students formed friendships that crossed racial lines. Those in attendance on Thursday could sign up to tell their own stories to be published on the project’s website, one that Ridner said she hopes will continually evolve. “We’ve found that this region of Mississippi is understudied in terms of the civil rights movement, and that has created an African American community who feels completely neglected as far as telling their stories,” Ridner said. “We want this to be a vehicle for them to tell their stories so that we can create a dialog in the community about this time period and what it means.”


February 21, 2016

MAKING MEMORY:REMEMBERING AND COMMEMORATING THE PASTAn Undergraduate Research SymposiumThe History Department at Mississippi State University invites undergraduate scholars to submit papers for the tenth annual Symposium for History Undergraduate Research (SHUR). The symposium will provide students with the opportunity to present their research in the format of an academic history conference and have their work discussed by Mississippi State history professors. The event is scheduled for April 27-28, 2018, on the Mississippi State University campus in Starkville.Papers are welcome on any historical topic, but especially those that reflect the Mississippi State University History Department’s in the history of science and technology; agricultural, rural, and environmental history; military and diplomatic history; the Civil War; gender history; African American history and civil rights; and the American South. We also welcome papers on the subjects of historical memory, memorialization, and commemoration, in acknowledgement of the tenth anniversary of SHUR. The paper should be based on original research in primary sources. Interested students should submit a proposal or abstract of not more than 400 words to Dr. Andrew Lang and Dr. Courtney Thompson at by March 1, 2018. Students whose papers have been accepted will be notified by March 15, 2018. The History Department will offset the costs of one night’s lodging for presenters and provide a BBQ banquet dinner on the Symposium’s opening night.SHUR is online at, and on Facebook at

Jason Ward on the Cause that was Never Lost and the Mississippi State Flag

November 24, 2015

The Cause Was Never Lost by Jason Morgan Ward in the American Historian On September 12, 1920, armed white men abducted a black prisoner from the Clarke County jail in Quitman, Mississippi. The captive, Will Echols, had been transferred from a neighboring county "for safekeeping" after the Mississippi Supreme Court stayed his execution. Convicted of murdering a white night watchman at a local lumber plant, Echols narrowly avoided the gallows when another black convict confessed to the crime. Less than forty-eight hours later, Echols's bullet-riddled corpse hung from a pole alongside a rural highway. Before pumping dozens of rounds into their victim, the mob reportedly shouted, "To Hell with the Supreme Court," and forced Echols to kiss a Confederate battle flag. Although they are separated by nearly a century, Echols's killers are kindred spirits of Dylann Roof, the twenty-one-year-old mass murderer fond of posing with banners of various white supremacist  regimes—particularly the Confederate States of America. Roof's June 2015 shooting spree at Charleston's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church did not spark the race war he desired, but the tragedy did ignite renewed debate over the links between white supremacy, violence, and one of the most divisive symbols in modern American history—the Confederate battle flag. Indeed, the massacre gave new momentum to campaigns to remove the flag from government grounds and strike the image from state-sanctioned and state-issued items such as license plates. More surprising, those demands resulted in prompt action in South Carolina and several other states. The Charleston massacre brought together an unprecedented chorus of voices, from "Black Lives Matter" activists to Republican legislators, who demanded that we finally put the flag and its bloody legacy behind us. Less surprising, the campaign drew the ire of the apologists and defenders who maintain that the flag remains a symbol of heritage and not hate. If the uncertain future of the battle flag divides these camps, the flag's defenders and detractors have demonstrated remarkable consensus on at least one aspect of the flag's history. From activists and celebrities who have joined the call for the flag's removal to neo-Confederates and those currying their political favor, commentators have consistently emphasized a mid-twentieth-century metamorphosis engineered by diehard segregationists, Klansmen, and neo-Nazis. These extremists, so the story goes, transformed a historic symbol of the Civil War into an emblem of racist defiance. Historians, of course, bear some responsibility for this popular notion, and the chasm between Civil War and civil rights in the flag's story reminds us that symbol and meaning is never static. Yet in that yawning gap, we can find ample evidence that the flag remained what it had always been since its creation—a banner for a white supremacist regime that could not exist without constant violence. For the flag's defenders, the narrative of a latter-day mutation serves to distinguish supposedly nonracist expressions from "extremist" distortions and to put as much distance as possible between themselves and the battle flag's historical origins as a banner for an unabashedly white supremacist crusade. Those who seek to remove the flag may differ in their regard for the Confederacy—and would certainly contend that the emblem could never be separated from the racial regime it represented—but they too seem content to gloss over the eighty-plus years separating the surrender at Appomattox from the segregationists of the post–World War II era. This narrative gap emphasizes the pivotal role of civil rights–era white supremacists in popularizing the battle flag as a symbol of racist defiance, but it gives these latter-day Confederates too much credit for creativity. Furthermore, a fast-forward through decades of disfranchisement, segregation, and rampant racial violence obscures those Jim Crow–era whites who rallied round the flag or those black southerners, like Echols, who had it shoved in their face to remind them of their place.   As a historian who moved from studying the segregationist movement to recovering stories of Jim Crow–era racial violence, I am reminded often that the distance between the Civil War and civil rights is shorter than many realize or care to admit. The decades separating the two "Sixties" of our nation's history reveal that there was never a point at which the flag's meaning and usage could be separated from the white supremacist rebellion that lost the war but won the peace. The Confederate dream of black subjugation by any means necessary lived on in the bloody overthrow of Reconstruction, the rise of Jim Crow, and white backlash to the civil rights revolution. White supremacists, like those who abducted and murdered Echols, needed neither a political strategist nor a marketing consultant to rebrand the battle flag. They knew the flag's true meaning, as it turns out, all along. The in-between years matter most urgently in Mississippi, where the battle flag still flies high despite calls, across racial and party lines, to bring it down. Whereas Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama officially adopted the Confederate emblem in the 1950s or 1960s—either by flying it on state grounds or, in the Peach State's case, incorporating it into the state flag—Mississippi's legislature adopted its current flag in the 1890s. As the flag debate elsewhere returned consistently to legislators' anti-civil rights motives, some Mississippi officials continue to invoke their flag's date of adoption—1894—as a tacit, even self-explanatory, defense of their forefathers' motives. Unlike the reactionary latecomers elsewhere who adopted the Confederate emblem only when faced with a civil rights threat, Mississippians presumably embraced the battle flag in decades before that storm arrived. While historians have noted the murky details surrounding theadoption of the 1894 flag, no serious scholar would argue that the 1890swere an era of racial tranquility. Whatever the legislators' immediate provocation, the decade marked the apex of white supremacy campaigns across the South. Mississippi led the way with an 1890 constitutional convention that adopted a web of disfranchisement schemes designed, in the words of future governor and U.S. senator James K. Vardaman, "to eliminate the nigger from politics." A few weeks later, southern senators on Capitol Hill provided a preview of civil rights–era filibusters when they held the floor for thirty-three days to kill a Republican-backed "force bill," which would have authorized federal officials to oversee elections and protect black voters. Instead, mobs in Mississippi and elsewhere forced African Americans into a newly prescribed place. In her pioneering lynching expose A Red Record (1895), Ida B. Wells reported a growing wave of mob violence across the South across a three-year period (1892–1894) and provided ample evidence that her native Mississippi had vaulted once again to the vanguard. By the time state legislators adopted the new flag in 1894, they had elevated Vardaman—arguably the most vicious white supremacist in the state's political history—to Speaker of the House. To expect a state flag birthed in this political climate to inspire anything other than hostility and defiance is asking much indeed. Yet Mississippi legislators had not remade the Confederate emblem so much as they had embraced its spirit. Indeed, while the campaign to erect Confederate monuments became the primary vehicle for the flag's popularization in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, white southerners understood the direct link between the Lost Cause of the Confederacy and Jim Crow. In Clarke County, just a few years before local mobs lynched half a dozen black victims in the span of twenty-four months, a local newspaper editor and memorial association secretary commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of Confederate surrender at Appomattox with an account of the postwar struggle against "a dangerous, ignorant foe... the negro." He recounted "amusing incidents" of whippings, beatings, and shootings—many of them on Election Day—that taught blacks their place in a new order. "Every blow the white man struck the negro," he concluded, "later rebounded as a blessing to him." That mix of antistatist defiance and racist brutality collided in the lynching of Will Echols. Few of his killers lived long enough to wave a battle flag at a segregationist rally in the 1950s or to thrust one in the face of a civil rights protester in the 1960s, but somehow someone knew that it was worth bringing to a lynching in 1920. They lived, after all, in a state where white vigilantes had already driven out the state's earliest NAACP branch leaders. They lived in the wake of the Ku Klux Klan's rebirth, inspired in part by a blockbuster film, Birth of a Nation, that seared Lost Cause mythology into the public consciousness. Thomas Dixon, the North Carolina novelist whose Reconstruction-era tales of dashing Klansmen and marauding Negroes inspired the film, taught Americans that the price of white supremacy was constant violence. When North Carolina state troopers apprehended Dylann Roof in the author's hometown—on Thomas Dixon Boulevard, no less—that bloody legacy came full circle. For racial terrorists across generations, lessons in violence were lessons in politics. For Dixon, the central theme of southern history remained an imperative to resist external threats to the racial status quo. In telling the Supreme Court—in Mississippi and presumably beyond—to go to hell, that mob in Clarke County demanded the prerogative to keep that threat at bay. Reaching back to the Civil War and Reconstruction, that fear expressed itself repeatedly in the form of a flag. Thirteen years before the Dixiecrats festooned their rallies with Confederate emblems, an aging Thomas Dixon joined a smattering of anti-New Deal hardliners at a quixotic "Grass Roots Convention." Convinced that communists had infiltrated the government, Dixon worked day and night on a new novel in which a black Marxist "Nat Turner Legion" would overrun the South. From the dais, Dixon warned a half-empty auditorium that Franklin Roosevelt would force another Reconstruction on the South. Behind him, a giant battle flag draped the stage. No one saw Will Echols's body after the authorities retrieved it. Local officials demonstrated similar haste after a quadruple lynching that took place just a few miles away. They buried the victims, two young men and two pregnant women, on the outskirts of a white cemetery in unmarked graves. Just across the wrought iron fence, a monument to "Our Confederate Dead" still casts its shadows on the headstones of at least a few lynch mob members and the occasional Sons of Confederate Veterans battle flag marker. That scene speaks volumes about what locals have chosen to remember and forget, but it also reminds us that the battle flag remains the symbol of our unfinished reckoning with race and violence for good reason. JASON MORGAN WARD is an associate professor of history at Mississippi State University​, where the Confederate flag emblem still flies on campus.  

Alexandra Hui Earns Dean's Eminent Scholar Designation

October 10, 2015

From the Letter of Nomination-- Hui’s research has always been at the intersection of culture and science. She has specialized in what is now sometimes called history of the senses, which means the history of the five senses. Her book was about the German national identity as manifested around a debate about what made Germans such a musical people. Why were leading composers German? Why were the best concert halls in Germany? Why were the best musicians German? Why did so many Germans enjoy symphonic and operatic music? To a large number of investigators, the reason was clear. The ears of persons of German descent were fundamentally different than other ‘races.’ Germans by inheritance had structures in their ears than provided a certain clarity of sound and that resulted in the musical heights of the new nation state. Richard Wagner, Ernst Mach and Herman Helmholtz were but three of the participants in their extraordinary discussion. Her next grand project—the one she is doing now—is about passive sound and humanity. Starting with Edison (if not before) and continuing through the various psychologists up through the Hawthorne Experiment, Hui traces the uses of background sound as a tool for the manipulation of humans. This study includes the creation of industrial psychology, the structure of public spaces, the authority of science, attempts to make mechanical bird calls, and most notably the establishment and reign of Muzak, a company that has recently disbanded not because its products did not work but because its name had become synonymous with shallowness and artificiality. In short, Hui will explore the history of a phenomenon with an incredible number of tentacles in an extraordinary number of venues. Hui now examining the intersection of natural and artificial sound and using such things as duck calls and the people who make them as a way of beginning to parse out the various connections and contradictions. She does not fear to go where no historian has gone before. Instead, she follows her well honed instincts and manages to make dramatic contribution after dramatic contribution to the profession.

"A Shaky Truce" - Civil Rights Struggles in Starkville, Mississippi, 1960-1980 Receives Mississippi Humanities Council Grant

September 6, 2015

The project can be found at   MSU History and Library Personnel involved in the project include: Lindsay Drane, Graduate StudentChristine Dunn, Undergraduate StudentNickoal Eichmann, History Research LibrarianEmily Gunther, Graduate StudentDee Heard, Graduate StudentSimon Marcy, Graduate Student Michael Murphy, Graduate StudentKelli Nelson, Graduate StudentHillary Richardson, Humanities LibrarianJudith Ridner, PhD., Associate Professor of HistoryNick Timmerman, Graduate StudentJustin Whitney, Graduate Student  

Owen J. Hyman Receives the Forest History Society's First Walter S. Rosenberry Fellowship, the Center for Ethical Business Culture's Halloran Prize in the History of Corporate Responsibility and the Southern Labor Archives' Reed Fink Award.

July 25, 2015

• The Southern Labor Archives' Reed Fink Award was in Southern Labor History.   • The Walter S. Rosenberry Fellowship is to complete his dissertation entitled "Naturalized Race, Industrialized Forests: An Environmental History of Jim Crow in the Forest Industries of Louisiana and Mississippi, 1880-1960."   • The Halloran Prize was awarded for his paper, titled "Why a West Coast Paper Company Went South”: Corporate Expansion and Civil Rights in the Deep South," by the Business History Conference and the European Business History Association. An abstract follows:   In November 1958, California paper manufacturer Crown Zellerbach released a report to its shareholders detailing why the firm “went South.” The company had just merged with the Gaylord Paper Company, making it the second largest paper manufacturer in the United States with access to thirteen paper mills, 31 paper conversion plants, over 2,200,000 acres of managed forests, and a half billion dollars in annual sales. With its expansion into the South, Crown committed itself to a major capital improvement program to update its newly acquired but outdated southern mills. In order to guarantee immediate returns on its investments and protect investor confidence, the company moved to limit work stoppages by acquiescing to the segregationist expectations of its southern workforce. These policies persisted in Crown Zellerbach's southern mills even after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Under pressure from white union members, Crown worked to avoid compliance with the act's equal employment provisions despite the company's image as a racially-progressive employer. In turn, it faced an extraordinary effort by a coalition of Louisiana and California activists, including some of Crown's own shareholders, to enforce civil rights law by intervening in its government contracts. The group proved able to construct a community of interested parties, from pulpwood workers to shareholders to customers, that cut across regional, racial, and class differences to force Crown to apply common standards in all of its facilities.

Karen Senaga Awarded Dissertion Fellowship By South Dakota State University

July 25, 2015

Senaga's fellowship is to complete her dissertation, titled "Tasteless, Cheap, and Southern? The Rise and Decline of the Farm-Raised Catfish Industry."  The fellowship includes opportunities to teach courses in her field of expertise.      

MSU Alum Publish. Timothy Vanderburg, Terry Alford, David Gleeson and Cadra McDaniel each has a new book. Jung Lee wins two international prizes.

July 13, 2015

/*-->*/ Jung Lee is the recipient of the Zhu Kezhen Junior Award, the highest honor of the International Society for the History of East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine for original scholarship in the history of science, technology, and medicine in East Asia, and the Abbot Payson Usher Prize, presented for the best scholarly work published during the preceding three years under the auspices of the Society for the History of Technology. Terry Alford, Fortune's Fool: The Life of John Wilkes Booth Oxford University Press. Timothy Vanderburg, Cannon Mills and Kannapolis. Persistent Paternalism in a Textile Town University of Tennessee Press. David Gleeson, The Green and the Gray. The Irish in the Confederate States of America. Cadra McDaniel, American-Soviet Cultural Diplomacy. The Bolshoi Ballet’s American Premiere Rowman & Littlefield.      

Jason Morgan Ward's op-ed piece on Dylann Roof and the White Fear of a Black Takeover

June 19, 2015

I noticed the flags first. In the most widely circulated image of Dylann Roof, who is charged with murdering nine African Americans at Charleston, S.C.'s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the white 21-year-old sports a jacket emblazoned with flag patches from two failed white supremacist states — Rhodesia and apartheid-era South Africa. In another shot, Roof appears to be showing off a flag-festooned license plate that pays homage to another failed white supremacist regime — the Confederate States of America.

Marsha Barrett in Politico--How the Republican Party Moved to the Right

May 27, 2015

Marsha Barrett has just published a provocative article on the Republican Party's rightward thrust in the 1960s. You can read about it in Politico at

Inaugural EPIC World Events Forum

May 20, 2015

On May 20, the history department hosted the inaugural EPIC World Events Forum, an informal setting where graduate students and professors discuss current events and place them in their historical context. The topic for today’s forum was the recent article in the London Review of Books by Seymour Hersh about the Osama bin Laden raid. The conversation centered on process of constructing narratives and the tools that historians use to evaluate an essay’s veracity. The forum will meet again in the fall semester.   The forum already has a social media presence, and issued the following tweet: "Today’s EPIC Forum Question: Is Seymour Hersh’s piece about OBL more than 50% reliable? Forum Vote: 5-2, no.”  

They Came, They Saw, They Presented--SHUR CONFERENCE MAY 1-2 at MSU

May 7, 2015

May 1, 2015 - May 2, 2015 This year's Symposium for History Undergraduate Research (SHUR) has come and gone from Mississippi State University. Students from across the nation had the opportunity to present and discuss their work in the format of an academic history conference. The theme of the symposium this year was “Reconnecting the Dots: Fresh Perspectives on History.” Drs. Julia Osman and Matt Lavine were conference organizers. The History Department offset the costs of one night’s lodging for presenters and provided a BBQ banquet on Friday night. Many of the participants went for a tour of Noxubee Refuge at the conclusion of the conference. The Program was as follows: SYMPOSIUM FOR HISTORY UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH The More Things Change: Continuity and Disruption in History   History Department Mississippi State University May 1-2, 2015   FRIDAY, MAY 1   REGISTRATION, 4:30-5:00          Colvard Student Union 330          FIRST ROUND OF PANELS, 5:00-6:15 p.m.   Panel 1A: Ordinary Women in Extraordinary Times             Colvard Student Union, room 328 Sierriana Terry, North Carolina Central University Sisters Of The Holy Family: Afro-Creole Nuns Educating Young Girls in Antebellum New Orleans Nathan Siegel, Swarthmore College Basque Women and Boardinghouse Work: How Immigrants and Their Children Constructed Livelihoods in Idaho Kristen Johnson, Midwestern State University Henrietta’s Fate: Rural Community Decline and Local Persistence on the Northwest Texas Plains Comment: Dr. Shalyn Claggett     Panel 2A: European Politics in the Modern Age             Colvard Student Union, room 329  Richard Bordelon, Fordham University “Yes, of course there are problems…”: Margaret Thatcher’s Objection to German Reunification and its Effects Steven Vickers, Auburn University A Different Shade of Green: the Rise of the Green Party in Ireland, 1981-1992 Comment:  Dr. William Anthony Hay           PLENARY ADDRESS  6:30-7:30          Mitchell Memorial Library Auditorium   Dr. Tabetha Ewing Finding the Archive of Extradition: on Runaway Wives, Fugitive Slaves, Spies, Counterfeiters, & Dissident Writers in the Age of Kings   CONFERENCE BANQUET  7:45-9:00 Little Dooey BBQ complimentary to participants, $20 for guests     SATURDAY, MAY 2   REGISTRATION AND COFFEE, 7:30-8:00          McCool Hall Atrium, First Floor   SECOND ROUND OF PANELS, 8:00-9:15   Panel 1B:  20th Century War and Propaganda             McCool Hall, room 126 Nathan Maulorico, Drury University How Propaganda Filmmaking from the Great War Era Influences the Modern World Andrew Ring, University of Saint Thomas Eliminating the Last Capitalist Class: An Analysis of Kulak Stereotypes in Soviet Animated Propaganda Rachael Damms, Mississippi University for Women A Gendered Analysis of the Imagery and Metaphor in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove Comment: Dr. Stephen Brain                   Panel 2B:  Building Communities and the Environment             McCool Hall, room 128 Emily Moses, University of Montevallo “Spark in The Magic City” Danny Russell, Arkansas State University Seeds of Success: Weiner, Arkansas and the Birth of the Northeast Arkansas Rice Industry Heidi Coon, Boise State University Man Made Paradise: The Boise Water Project Comment: Dr. Mark Hersey   Panel 3B: Gender and Politics in the 1960s             McCool Hall, room 130 Brett Leigh Bennett, University of Georgia The Forgotten Radical: Southern Women and the New Left Student Protests of the 1960s Tierra Melvin, Grambling State University “I will fight until I can’t fight anymore. I don’t mind the challenge”: Shirley Chisholm and Battling Inequality in America Rachel Christine Fulk, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis “I don’t think I’m bad, although I do things she would probably frown upon”: Tensions between a mother and daughter in the transformative society of the 1960s Comment:  Dr. Marsha Barrett   THIRD ROUND OF PANELS, 9:30-10:30   Panel 1C: Many People, One State: Texas in the 19th Century             McCool Hall, room 126  Christopher Freeman, Midwestern State University Two Worlds, One Big Pasture:  Quanah Parker and Burk Burnett – the Social, Economic, and Cultural Implications of Anglo/Indian Associations in the Oklahoma and Texas Borderlands Conisha Hackett, Tougaloo College “To Protect and Serve”: An Examination of Mississippi Murders during the Culture of Lynching from 1930 to 1956 Comment: Dr. Peter Messer   Panel 2C: Liberty and Lipstick: American Women Escaping their Boundaries             McCool Hall, room 128 Benedict Gerard Chatelain, Western Michigan University Rebellion through Religion:  Henriette Delille and the Sisters of the Holy Family University Kelsey Lamkin, Middle Tennessee State University The Desperate Drive for Perfection: Changing Beauty Ideals of the 1920s Comment:  Dr. Julia Osman   COFFEE BREAK, 10:30-11:00   FOURTH ROUND OF PANELS, 11:00-12:30   Panel 1D: History through the Ages: from Thucydides to the Digital Humanities             McCool Hall, room 126 Carl Garris, University of South Carolina Medieval Identity Theft: Using X-ray Polarization to Read an Erased Ownership Inscription in a Thirteenth-Century English Bible Sami Slenker, Colorado State University An Evolving Lens: How the Digitalization of Cartography Redefines Central American History Eryn Pritchett, Murray State University What is History?  An Investigation into the use of Rhetoric in Thucydides Comment:  Dr. Judith Ridner       Panel 2D: Atrocity and Reconciliation in War             McCool Hall, room 128  Kevin McPartland, University of Alabama "Heart-Rending Spectacle": Executions and Morale in the Confederate Armies Nathan Parsons, University of St. Thomas Fatal Progressivism: How The Movement’s Conflicting Views Justified American Atrocities in the Philippines Brianna E. Kirk, Gettysburg College Jeff Davis, A Sour Apple Tree, and Treason: Fear in the Post-Civil War North Comment: Dr. Richard Damms   LUNCH, 12:30-1:30 Box lunches, McCool Hall          Complimentary for participants; $10 for guests Transportation available to Comfort Suites and back   FIFTH ROUND OF PANELS, 1:30-2:45   Panel 1E: Behind the Scenes: Training, Nursing, and Researching in American Wars             McCool Hall, room 126 Laura Galbraith, Joseph Hadwal, Midwestern State University Wichita Falls At War: Call Field Pilot Training During The Great War Krista Mehrl, University of St. Thomas American Women and Their Significance in Vietnam: “Not Just a Nurse” Lauren Elizabeth Cole, University of Georgia The Tests at Bikini Atoll: A History of Complex Legal Repercussions Comment:  Dr. Matthew Lavine   Panel 2E: 19th Century American Wars             McCool Hall, room 128 Phillips, Daniel, Hastings College They Also Bled: Native and African-Americans in the Kansas Territory, 1840-1860 William Barron, Murray State University 1812: The Forgotten War Comment: Dr. Andy Lang and Dr. Kathryn Barbier     SIXTH ROUND OF PANELS, 3:00-4:15   Panel 1F: African American struggles and triumphs in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries             McCool Hall, room 126 Zachary Hoffman, Ashland University Not a Killer, Solider, or Subject: Frederick Douglass and American Citizenship Emily Smith, Mississippi State University Mississippi School Integration: Choices and Consequences Walton Chaney, Mississippi State University Civil Rights in Mississippi, Espionage and Neshoba County. Comment: Dr. Jason Ward   Panel 2F: Not always what they seem: Redefining Slavery and the Military             McCool Hall, room 128 Scott Cardwell, University of Idaho                        Myths and Misconceptions in the United States Military: Redefining the Traditional Roles of African-American, Women and Homosexuals Andrew Prignano, Elmhurst College Capitalistic Slavery Comment: Dr. Julia Osman    

Ellen Spears, "'Beyond All Decency': Race, Pollution, and Justice in an All-American Town" now on Vimeo

May 6, 2015

The video can be found at   Ellen Griffith Spears teaches in the interdisciplinary New College and the Department of American Studies at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Her research focuses on environmental and civil rights history of the U.S. South in a global context, with an emphasis on social studies of science, technology, and public health activism. Her book, Baptized in PCBs: Race, Pollution, and Justice in an All-American Town (University of North Carolina Press, 2014), chronicles battles over industrial pollution and military toxics—including secretly stockpiled Cold War era chemical weapons—in Anniston, Alabama. The book was awarded the 2014 Arthur J. Viseltear Prize in public health history from the Medical Care Section of the American Public Health Association.

Nick Timmerman wins two fellowships at the University of Michigan's Bentley Historical Library. Appointed CHASES assistant.

May 6, 2015

Nick Timmerman has been awarded both the Mark C. Stevens Fellowship and the Bordi/Gillette Research Fellowship from the Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan. Timmerman has also been designated the Center for the History of Agriculture, Science and the Environmnet in the South (CHASES) assistant for the 2015-2016 academic year. Among other tasks, Timmerman will be in charge of arranging the CHASES Experiment Stations during the 2015-2016 academic year.

Gracjan Kraszewski Receives Grant from Cushwa Center for American Catholicism

May 5, 2015

Gracjan  Kraszewski receives travel grant from The Cushwa Center for American Catholicism to conduct research at the Notre Dame archives.

Emily Gunther Manages MSU History's Facebook and Twitter Pages

February 27, 2015

Emily Gunther came to Mississippi State History this year from Virginia Tech to pursue her Masters degree. She studies 19th century America and rural southern women. A proponent of social media, she inaugurated the department's Facebook and Twitter pages. Follow her at and Emily welcomes new items of interest as well as comments. She hopes to make these pages truly interactive. You can email her at She will be update the various sites periodically this summer.  

International Security/Internal Safety (IS/IS) becomes EPIC-Empire, Power, Identity, and Conflict

February 12, 2015

/*-->*/ MSU History has rebranded one of its three Nodes of Excellence. What had been known as IS/IS will now become EPIC. True, world events had made the old acronym troubling. But the real genesis for the rebranding came from the recognition that IS/IS no longer adequately reflected all of what we did. EPIC-Empire, Power, Identity, and Conflict—acknowledges an expansion of faculty and student endeavors. International Security and Internal Safety and all what they connote remain at the heart of EPIC but the reconfiguration permits us to embrace additional possibilities. Identity allows us to enrich our analyses and to bring scrutiny into newer, potentially more fruitful arenas. MSU History has emerged from the transformation bigger and better.

Sally McMurry CHASE's Lecture Now available

January 26, 2015

Sally McMurry's Center for the History of Agriculture, Science and the Environment lecture, originally presented on January 16, 2015 at Mississippi State University is now available online. Titled Agricultural History on the Ground, McMurry's presentation discusses preservation of agricultural landscapes. It can be found here.

History Announces Super Graduate Assistantships for 2015-16 Academic Year

January 6, 2015

/*-->*/ Starting in Fall 2015, several entering graduate students will receive Super Graduate Assistantships. Reserved for our very best new students, recipients will serve as teaching assistants with a stipend of at least $19,000 for the academic year. These Super Assistantships are recognition from the Graduate School of MSU History’s excellent program and the desire to attract ever better students. Each of these awards covers almost all tuition and fees in addition to the $19,000 stipend. Ph.D students will be favored for these awards but Masters students are also eligible for consideration.

Mississippi State History Adopts a NYC School for Promising At Risk Students

November 17, 2014

10/28/2014 Dear Dr. Marcus and the Mississippi State History Department,  Thank you so much for the wonderful cowbells, folders, and all of the bags you so generously gave to the boys of Mississippi State here at Excellence NY. The items you gave have been used to incentivize learning in our classroom and have helped to create a culture in which Mississippi State pride is key. Your kindness has brightened the days of 30 first grade boys who love learning and Mississippi State. Thank you again for the generosity you have bestowed on us here in Brooklyn and Hail State!   Sincerely, Rachel Zeilinger and Julie Ebling

Stephen Brain Named Dean's Eminent Scholar

November 12, 2014

At the College of Arts & Sciences convocation earlier this semester, Professor Stephen C. Brain was designated Dean's Eminent Scholar. Brain is the latest to receive this honor. Predecessors include history professors Peter C. Messer, Mary Kathryn Barbier, William Anthony Hay and James C. Giesen.

Matthew Lavine wins the Stanley Jackson Prize.

November 11, 2014

The Jackson prize is given to the best article published in the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences During the Preceeding three years. The award citation read in part:   The committee was impressed with the paper’s conception of the “taming of x-ray technology,” charting a path as clinical x-rays moved from being a miraculous, enticing novelty to become nearly invisibly woven into routine care. The patient’s perceptions of clinical x-rays as a fantastically potent but unpredictable technique faded, yielding ground to an emerging perception of radiation as a “subtle, cumulative and insidious threat.”  The paper draws skillfully from trends in the history of technology and cultural history to explore the changing perception of what has become a constituent technology of modern medical care.

Christopher Snyder Receives Award From Oxford University

November 10, 2014

Christopher Snyder, Dean of the Honors College and Professor of History, has been named an Affiliated Faculty Member in the Globalising and Localising the Great War Programme at the University of Oxford (  He will be conducting research at Oxford in May and June 2015 for his next book, Gatsby's Oxford: Americans in the City of Dreaming Spires.  He will be concentrating on the experiences of Mississippi State's first Rhodes Scholar, Major William M. Rogers, both in combat and during the time he spent before and after the war at Oxford. 

Kelli Nelson & Kayla Hester win awards

August 26, 2014

Kelli Nelson selected as CHASES Fellow. Kayla Hester awarded IS/IS fellowship

MSU History's Spring Break at the Delta Highlighted

August 26, 2014

Click here for details.

Alexandra Hui wins the Early Career Award

August 26, 2014

Alexandra Hui wins the Early Career Award presented by the Society for the History of Psychology, a division of the American Pyschological Association.

Jim Giesen Awarded the 2013 Simkins Prize

August 26, 2014

Jim Giesen Awarded the 2013 Simkins Prize by the Southern Historical Association for the Best First Book in Southern History.

MSU historians lead Civil Rights Tour

August 26, 2014

 Click here to learn more.  

Anne Marshall honored as Kentucky Colonel

August 25, 2014

Anne Marshall honored as Kentucky colonel for her 'Creating a Confederate Kentucky: The Lost Cause and Civil War Memory in a Border State.' Click here.