Columbus, Mississippi is a city located in northeast MS, along the Tombigbee River. The current library building was erected in 1972 and is located on land given by the Columbus Municipal School District, where the original Stephen D. Lee High School once stood. The S.D. Lee house is still located next door and is a museum.
The Local History Department was created in the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library (CLPL) in 1992. Its mission is to document the history and culture of Columbus and Lowndes County. The Department has an amazing collection and is beautiful and quite pleasant to be in. Hopefully, the photos included will convey a measure of the quality and professionalism that is present in the facility.
The Local History Room is the first area within the Department. It contains print resources related to Columbus and Lowndes County. Many photographs and paintings are displayed throughout the room. There are numerous indexes to many of the resources.
The Margaret Latimer-Buckley Memorial Room contains a large collection of books from other southern states and selected genealogical resources from all over the United States and the world. The microfilm is housed in this area, with readers/printers and computer connections available outside the History Department entrance, in the main library.
The Billups-Garth Archives contains finding aids, a reading area, computers, maps, work areas, and a temperature-controlled vault. Shown in photos are: Stephen D. Lee High School mural of the city of Columbus, finding aid binders, the Archives vault, reading and work areas. Archivist, Mona K. Vance, Practicum Supervisor, is in photo at bottom right. (I believe she is among the most professional of archivists within the field of public history in the country.)
The former Robert Stewart Caldwell Junior High School had opened in 1963 as an all-white junior high school for Columbus, located at 820 North Browder (Morgan, 1996, August 18, Columbus Dispatch, pp. 1A, 5A). Caldwell High School existed between 1970 and 1992 (22 years). The slides were dated from 1975 and 1981 (6 years).
The original Stephen D. Lee High School was built on the site of today’s CLPL. The building stood from 1918 until 1959. A new school was built on Military Road in 1953. The old Stephen D. Lee building housed grades 7-8, until it burned in 1959. The old building was connected to the actual Stephen D. Lee house, seen at the far left of the photo. This photo was taken by myself, while in the Stephen D. Lee house, from a photo on display.
In order to understand the content of the Caldwell slides, research was done through yearbooks and vertical files located in the archives. It was necessary to understand the connection between Caldwell and Lee High Schools, to obtain accurate information about the Caldwell slides.
In the 1992-1993 school years, the two high schools ceased to be named Caldwell High School-Columbus West and Stephen D. Lee High School-Columbus East, and both became known as Columbus High School. (Note that the photo on the Lee yearbook is a portion of the mural that is now in the CLPL Archives.)
The two schools gradually took measures to become more unified, leading to new mascots and school colors. For example, the Caldwell High School mascot, the “Bobcat”, was painted over in 1992. The “General” murals at Stephen D. Lee were also painted over or removed. The photo at the right is a mural painted on a board that used to hang on the wall next to the Lee cafeteria. It is now hanging in the Archives at CLPL. (The desk in front of the mural was my workspace during the Practicum.)
This poem was under the photograph of the two hands touching, with a background of a church steeple. The author of the poem was not given. This was in the first yearbook for Caldwell, after desegregation had established Caldwell High.
While some of the slide photographs were on a work table in the Archives, a patron recognized some of the people and wrote the names for us.
After research, I determined that all of the slides were associated with the JR ROTC program at Caldwell High School, from the years 1973-1984.
We did not have the original Ledger, only copies on legal-sized paper. In the beginning, we did not know where the mercantile store was located or who gave the copies to the Archive.
Plymouth Bluff is recognized as the only place in MS that had a significant role in the Creek Indian War and the concurrent War of 1812 between the U.S. and England. Plymouth Bluff is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is included in the National Park Service’s Revolutionary War/War of 1812 Historic Preservation Study (Sherman, 2007, p. 41).
In the beginning, we did not know where the copies of the Ledger came from. When standing and inserting the 6 folders back into the box, I found an old catalog card in the bottom of the box, which had the donor’s name and the location of where the Ledger came from. The donor was W. E. Prout, and the location was Plymouth, Mississippi.
The handwriting at the bottom of this slide is an example of how double letters were written. In this case, what looks like an “f” near the end, is the way to write a double “s” in the word. Instead of Holdernefs, this is Holderness.
Once the way the author of the ledger’s style of writing was familiar, it was easier to read the names. Sometime during the Ledger’s history, the author changed, and so did the style of writing.
It is difficult to stay on task instead of following leads in the additional resources. I plan to do further research on my own in the future. (I had to keep reminding myself to prepare a finding aid, so people could have a resource to start research for themselves.)
I was so fortunate to discover such a gem in archives and local history. Even better, were the people that I was able to know and work with. They shared their time, friendship, and knowledge. I appreciate them allowing me to experience their world.
Donna S. Ballard Archives and Special Collections Student Mona K. Vance Archivist & On-Site Practicum Supervisor Dr. Teresa S. WelshAssociate Professor, The University of Southern MS - SLIS
COLLECTION SUMMARY Title: Caldwell High School Slides Collection Number: MS 451 Inclusive Dates: 1973-1984 Creator(s): Unknown The Slides were scanned to JPEG HISTORICAL NOTE: Photograph files. Caldwell High School originated during the 1970-1971 school year, in Columbus, Mississippi, as a result of desegregation (Morgan, 1992, July 3, Columbus Dispatch).
The former Stephen D. Lee High School began in 1918 at the present Columbus-Lowndes Public Library site. A new Stephen D. Lee High School was built on Military Road in 1953.
The Caldwell High School (Columbus West) mascot, the Bobcat, was painted over in 1992, and changed to the Falcons. The Stephen D. Lee High School (Columbus East) mascot, the General, [which looked like the former controversial Ole Miss Rebel mascot] was changed to the Falcons in 1992. Both high school colors became purple and gold, and their mascot was the Falcons (Morgan, 1992, July 3 Columbus Dispatch).
Caldwell H. S. Stephen D. Lee H.S. (West Columbus H. S.) (East Columbus H. S.) Caldwell’s “Bobcat” and Lee’s Lee’s “General” mural was taken down“General” were painted over in 1992. and moved to the CLPL Archives.
“Yesterday we said it July 1, 1996 wouldn’t happen. Caldwell Today, it’s here. West Columbus High School Brothers are we all—the &black and white—together. Stephen D. LeeWe strive for the future, our East Columbus High School future, a better future. Combined into one newly- Here we are, facing each constructed building,other, opposing each other, working with each other. known as: The future… Columbus High School What does it hold?” Grades 9-12 (1971 Excalibur, p. 4)
Numbered slides and placed in archival sleeves Scanned slides and saved as JPEG files Began Excel file and described each slide/photograph Excel file was developed as an Index to the slides Printed photographs from slides Placed photographs into archival sleeves Made copies of JR ROTC photos in Caldwell yearbooks Sorted photographs by date stamped on slides Compared photographs to yearbook copies Asked public for help in identifying photographs Searched for other contacts for help with ID of photos
COLLECTION SUMMARY Title: Smith & Wright Mercantile Store Ledger 1841-1845 Collection Number: 2008-117 Inclusive Dates: 1841-1845 Creator(s): Unknown HISTORICAL NOTE The Smith & Wright Ledger was used in a mercantile store in Plymouth, Mississippi. This former town was located at the mouth of Tibee Creek and the Tombigbee River, a few miles northwest of Columbus, MS.
• The west bank of • The town ofthe Tombigbee Plymouth wasRiver was opened incorporated into settlement due 1836.to the Indian LandCession. • Plymouth later became extinct,• Plymouth largely because ofbecame important unhealthyin cotton storage conditions of theand as a shipping low-lying landcenter, since therewas a shallow (Brieger, 1980, p.fording place • Plymouth was an Indian trading post and 317).nearby. where John Pitchlynn lived. He was given as a child, to the Indians when his father died, while on his way to Natchez from South Carolina. As a result, Pitchlynn had much influence with the Indians.
The collection consisted of 457 + pages that were copied from the Smith & Wright Mercantile Ledger, with inclusive dates of 1841-1845. Legal-sized pages were stored within 6 folders, placed in an archival box. Most all of the pages were previously numbered. Those without numbers were added in brackets. Each page was examined for names. Each name was entered into an Excel file as Last Name, First Name, Initials, and Prefix, with the associated page numbers.
The writing was sometimes small and required the frequent use of a magnifying glass. The style of the writing in the 19th century was different than today’s. A helpful book for interpreting the writing was: Sperry, Kip. Reading Early American Handwriting. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Pub., 1998. Print. Alphabets, letter forms, term definitions, and abbreviations commonly used in early American documents were useful in the interpretation of the writing.
After entering all readable names and corresponding page numbers into an Excel file, the names were sorted into alphabetical order. The same names were combined, along with the associated page numbers and entered into Excel. An important lesson learned was to save the original Excel file separately from the one you were working on. When mistakes were made, the original file could be consulted for accuracy in corrections. The Ledger was frequently checked against the Excel file for accuracy in names and page numbers.
Once the names and page numbers were combined, the Excel file was printed. The new printing was used to write cross-references on, and transfer to an Excel file. For example: Aiken & Brown [see also Brown, Aiken &] It was important to keep separate Excel files for each major change in processing, so that previous work could be referred to for accuracy when mistakes were made. The most common mistake was Excel file cells not being deleted across all of the columns, which would lead to incorrect page numbers associated with names. Other indexes were observed for consistent ways to index names.
Aiken 3 Aiken & Brown [see also Brown, Aiken &] 24 Brown, Aiken & [see also Aiken & Brown] 24 Albert & Church [see also Church, Albert &] 2 Church, Albert & [see also Albert & Church] 2 Albert & Kirkland [see also Kirkland, Albert &] 330 Kirkland, Albert & [see also Albert & Kirkland] 330____________________________________________________ When these additions were typed into the current Excel working copy and completed, then the file could be sorted alphabetically, re-printed, and checked for accuracy.
Abbreviations and Notes relating to the Ledger were produced as documents. Designations found written beside names were produced as a separate document. Examples of designations in the Ledger: ACCOUNT, AGENT, CHURCH, COMPANY, DOCTOR, LOCATION, MILITARY TITLE, MISCELLANEOUS, REVEREND, SCHOOL & SECURITY_______________________________________________________ Several names with military titles, and names in general, were found to be related to STEAMBOATS on the Tombigbee River.
Brieger, James F . "Plymouth." Hometown Prout, W. E. A Historical Documentation of Mississippi. 2nd ed. Mississippi, 1980. 317. Plymouth, Mississippi. Columbus, MS: Print. Mississippi State College for Women, 1973. Elliott, Jack D., and Mary Ann Wells. Cotton Print. Gin Port: A Frontier Settlement on the Upper Rodabough, John, and Helen M. Crawford. Tombigbee. Jackson, MS: Quail Ridge for the Steamboats on the Upper Tombigbee. Mississippi Historical Society, 2003. Print. Hamilton, MS: Tombigbee, 1985. Print. Kaye, Samuel H., Rufus Ward, and Carolyn B. Sherman, Harry L., and Plymouth Bluff Neault. By the Flow of the Inland River: The Center and Museum. "A Very Remarkable Settlement of Columbus, Mississippi to 1825. Bluff": Bernard Romans, 1771. Columbus, MS: Columbus, MS: [Snapping Turtle], 1992. Print. Mississippi University for Women, 2007. Print. Lipscomb, W. L., and Georgia P. Young. A Sperry, Kip. Reading Early American History of Columbus, Mississippi, during the Handwriting. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical 19th Century. Birmingham, AL: Press of Pub., 1998. Print. Dispatch Printing, 1909. Print. Ward, Rufus. "Appendix 4. A Directory of the Neville, Bert. Directory of River Packets in the Steamboats on the Upper Tombigbee." Mobile-Alabama-Warrior-Tombigbee Trades The Tombigbee River Steamboats: Rollodores, 1818-1932. Selma: Coffee Printing, 1962. Print. Dead Heads, and Side-wheelers. Charleston, SC: History, 2010. 147-96. Print.
Mona K. Vance, CLPL Archivist Bettye Brown, CLPL Local History Assistant Alice Shands, CLPL Director
firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com donnaballard.blogspot.comIf you would like to see more details about the Caldwell HighSchool Slides and the Smith & Wright Mercantile StoreLedger, see: donnaballard.blogspot.com. I also plan to adddetails and photos about my visit to the S.D. Lee home,located next to the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library. 5/10/12