News Releases

Mississippi Historical Society Meets, Awards Prizes

February 26, 2024

The Mississippi Historical Society held its annual meeting February 22-23 in Oxford to honor its 2024 award winners, including the best Mississippi History Book, the lifetime achievement award, teacher of the year, and awards of merit.

Charles Reagan Wilson, professor emeritus of history and Southern studies at the University of Mississippi, received the Lifetime Achievement Award. He was the Kelly Gene Cook Sr. chair of history and professor of Southern studies at the University of Mississippi, where he taught from 1981 to 2014. He worked extensively with graduate students and served as director of the Southern studies academic program from 1991 to 1998, and director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture from 1998 to 2007.

Grace Elizabeth Hale, commonwealth professor of American studies and history at the University of Virginia, received the Book of the Year Award for In the Pines: A Lynching, a Lie, a Reckoning. The book examines the role of Hale’s grandfather, a Mississippi sheriff, in the 1947 death of a black man accused of raping a white woman in the era of Jim Crow. It also tells a broader story of the history of the Piney Woods, Jefferson Davis County, and the town of Prentiss, and the Black and white citizens of the region.

William R. Sutton won the Journal of Mississippi History Article of the Year Award for “The Friars Point Coup and Aftermath: Historical Memory and Personal Character in the Era of Redemption,” which examines racial violence during Reconstruction in a small Mississippi town.

The Outstanding Local Historical Society Award was presented to both the Ashland Benton County Historical Preservation Commission and the Benton County Historical and Genealogical Society for their work to plan, organize, and implement the 150th anniversary celebration of the Benton County Courthouse.

The Teacher of the Year Award was presented to Caitlin Thomas of Lafayette Middle School.

Awards of Merit were presented to the B.L. Moor High School Alumni Education Association for preserving the history of a former African American school in Oktibbeha County; Bob Willis of Oklahoma for his sculpture of Hiram Rhodes Revels for Zion Chapel A.M.E. Church in Natchez; city of Long Beach for the restoration of the W.J. Quarles House, the home of one of the most prominent early settlers of Long Beach; Coulter Fussell, for preserving the early history of Water Valley; Coahoma Collective and StoryWorks for their work on a living history documentary play entitled “Beneath an Unknown Sky,” which highlights the importance of the Freedmen’s Bureau and Black leaders during Reconstruction; Paul Cartwright, Gene Horton, and Tricia Nelson for publication of the book, A Shared History: Copiah County 1823-2023, as part of the Copiah County Bicentennial Project; Friends of Valena C. Jones School for its oral history project interviewing former students and faculty of the school, preserving their memories of the Hancock County institution, and documenting their experiences during integration; Hancock County Historical Society for the production of the historical drama Mercy Train: Next Stop Bay St. Louis—an original one-act play about the history of Orphan Trains and the lives of five children from Bay St. Louis in the early 1900s; Historic Biloxi Schools Collection Oral History Project for collecting voices and histories of people who attended or worked in Biloxi Public Schools showing a history not found in textbooks; Jackson State University for the Gowdy Washington Addition Exhibition about one of the first African American communities in the city of Jackson; The LaPointe Krebs Foundation for the restoration of the state’s oldest documented standing building, the de la Pointe Krebs House in Pascagoula; Michael H. Logue for publishing Echoes from the Bluffs, a book about the Vicksburg Campaign; MoreStory Monuments Project for recognizing African American history at Mississippi University for Women; Rex Jones for creating two short films—Libation and Legislation: The Story of Mississippi’s Legislative Frat House and Steve Holland: Jesus Was a Democrat; and the University of Mississippi Slavery Research Group for projects and teaching about the history of slavery and enslaved people in Oxford and at the University of Mississippi.

Northeast Mississippi Community College instructor Will Bowlin completed his term as president of the society and welcomed the new president, Rebecca Tuuri, associate professor of history, University of Southern Mississippi. Roscoe Barnes III, cultural heritage tourism manager at Visit Natchez, was elected vice president. New board members are Tony Bounds, Tougaloo College; Kasey Daugherty, The Max; Heather Denné, Jackson State University; Kristi DiClemente, Mississippi University for Women; Linda Fondren, Catfish Row Museum; and Malika Polk-Lee, BB King Museum.

The Mississippi Historical Society, founded in 1858, encourages outstanding work in interpreting, teaching, and preserving Mississippi history. Membership is open to anyone; benefits include receiving the Journal of Mississippi History, the Mississippi History Newsletter, and discounts at the Mississippi Museum Store. For information on becoming a member visit



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