County history alive and well at PRCC museum
Published 7:00 am Friday, February 6, 2015
On the campus of Pearl River Community College in Poplarville, there is a museum dedicated to preserving the rich history of a school more than 100 years old. PRCC is the oldest publicly funded community college in Mississippi, and one of the oldest in the United States.
It is also one of the only two-year institutions to have a museum on campus. More than a century of history is on display in the south wing of Hancock Hall where the museum is located, and it is the subject of this week’s “Dart”.
Pearl River Community College began as an agricultural high school, holding its first classes in September 1909. By 1921, the campus was offering college courses for freshmen. Within the next few years, sophomore classes were added as well.
The first thing a museum visitor sees upon walking into the main hall of exhibits is an assortment of photographs from this era. Some of the first buildings to be built on campus are depicted in these images, as well as some of the earliest collegiate classes that were taught to adults and students in Pearl River County in the 1920s and 30s.
Museum Director Ronn Hague said he first got the idea to start the museum from his mother when he was working as the college’s Webmaster in 2000.
Hague said he became frustrated while trying to compile an archive of the college’s rich history because the information was scarce and disorganized. His mother suggested starting a museum with the information he was able to gather. After discussing the idea with the college, it became a reality in 2001.
In the past 14 years, the museum has gathered a number of artifacts and put together impressive exhibits.
There is a corner in the back of the museum that has been arranged as a replica of what a student’s dormitory may have looked like in the 1920s. The vintage Wildcat blanket, tarnished books and deck of playing cards give the display an authentic feel.
Across from that there is a trophy case featuring a number of the school’s athletic accomplishments, including the National Championship the PRCC football team won in 2004.
A military display highlights the college’s Reserve Officer Training Corps unit. Founded in 1936, it was the first ROTC program belonging to a junior college in the United States.
Also in the museum is a vintage scoreboard, which was part of the PRCC gymnasium from 1949 to 2003. It sits next to yearbooks and football posters that are decades old.
Just as interesting as the exhibits on display are the stories visitors hear from Hague. Anyone with an interest in Pearl River County history should make a visit to the museum.
When asked about the value of such a collection, Hague did not hesitate to answer.
“You can see it on the face of every student or adult visitor who walks through that door and learns something,” he said.
For more information, visit the museum’s website at http://www.prcc.edu/community/museum.