USM, Hattiesburg hosting Mississippi Historical Society Meeting March 10-11

Published 8:46 am Friday, January 14, 2022

The Mississippi Historical Society (MHS) will take in the hospitality of Hattiesburg and The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) when the city and school host the organization’s annual spring meeting March 10-11.

The meeting’s programming will feature sessions on religion, women’s leadership, the role of journalism in activism, civil rights, innovative digital history and archival projects, and preserving and commemorating local African American history. Local tours include the African American Military History Museum, the Mississippi Armed Forces Museum at Camp Shelby, the Freedom Summer Trail, and historic sites in downtown Hattiesburg.

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“We hope a number of local people from USM and the Hattiesburg area who enjoy Mississippi history will attend,” said Brother Rogers, MHS secretary-treasurer.

The conference will begin Thursday, March 10 at noon in the Trent Lott Center, with Dr. Patricia Boyett, a USM history Ph.D. alumna and director of the Women’s Resource Center at Loyola University in New Orleans, delivering the conference’s opening address. Dr. Boyett will be followed by two scholarly panels, one of which will feature USM History program Professor Dr. Susannah Ural and USM history graduate student James Jarrell discussing their important work through USM’s new Digital Humanities Center to make Mississippi archival holdings available globally, among other important projects.

The first day’s programming will conclude with a keynote address at the MHS banquet featuring Dr. Christian Pinnen, another USM history Ph.D. alumnus, who will be presented the MHS’s award for best book on Mississippi history for Complexion of Empire in Natchez, Race and Slavery in the Mississippi Borderlands. Friday’s conference will continue at Hattiesburg’s historic Eureka School, located at 410 E. Sixth St. in downtown Hattiesburg, and include an awards luncheon and programming that will feature tours of sites focused on local African American history, among other points of interest throughout the city.

USM Associate Professor of History Dr. Rebecca Tuuri, an MHS board member and local arrangements and program chair of this year’s annual meeting, says she’s excited to welcome not only USM students, faculty, staff, and alumni to the event’s programming, but also local teachers and history buffs.

“We have a tremendous lineup that will highlight notable alumni, faculty, and students from Southern Miss as well as community members,” Dr. Tuuri said. “We will have not only traditional academic panels that explore religion, race, gender, and activism in the state but also significant digital history projects from across Mississippi. Finally, we spotlight the powerful work of local individuals and organizations to preserve Hattiesburg’s African American history.”

The MHS is a volunteer organization that works closely with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to promote understanding of the state’s history. Its publications include the Journal of Mississippi History and the Mississippi History Now website, The society supports Mississippi History Day, a state contest for individual and group history projects in grades 6-12. Anyone can join at

The USM history program has a longstanding association with the Mississippi Historical Society. USM President Emeritus Dr. Aubrey K. Lucas is a former president of the society. Melissa Jones, a current USM history graduate student and director of paralegal studies at Mississippi College, serves on the board with Dr. Tuuri. Dr. Ural is a recent past president of the society, and their History program colleague Dr. Deanne Stephens is a former board member.

“Our faculty and alumni have served as MHS presidents and board members, and as authors for the society’s journal,” Dr. Ural said. “It’s wonderful to see that historical relationship continue as Southern Miss hosts the MHS annual meeting this spring.”

MHS Board Member and USM alumnus Ryan Schilling, an instructor of history at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and a Hattiesburg resident, says he’s thrilled to have the organization’s annual meeting in the Hub City this year.

“Our annual meeting offers incredible learning opportunities, filled with lively panel discussions on topics about our state’s rich and often complex past,” Schilling continued. “With this year’s event providing wonderful tour options highlighting our city’s significant contributions to Mississippi history, I encourage members of Hattiesburg’s college communities and local residents alike to participate.”

Early registration for the conference is $50 for MHS members and $85 for non-members. Registration after Friday, Feb. 25 is $75 for MHS members and $110 for non-members. Students can attend for free, though MHS requests they register early. More information about the annual meeting and complete details of its schedule of programming can be found at