Elbert Hilliard

Elbert R. Hilliard, 87, Former Director of MDAH, Dies

Former director of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH), Elbert R. Hilliard, died on March 17.  He became the fifth director of MDAH in 1973, after starting with the agency in 1965. He retired in 2004 after thirty-nine years of public service. Hilliard was named director emeritus of MDAH and continued to support the work of the department. MDAH director Katie Blount said, “Under his leadership, MDAH grew to be a multifaceted historical agency with a national reputation for excellence. His work had a profound impact on the effort to preserve, interpret, and promote Mississippi history.” 

Hilliard worked with the Mississippi Legislature to make the State Antiquities Law one of the strongest preservation laws in the country. An avid historian and preservationist, he initiated a grant program to benefit historic properties around the state, including courthouses, schools, museums, and other sites. Under his leadership, MDAH established a records management program for state government records, and he personally traveled the state to promote a records management program for cities and counties. Hilliard oversaw the funding efforts for the construction of the state-of-the-art William F. Winter Archives and History Building that was dedicated in 2003.  

He served as the secretary-treasurer of the Mississippi Historical Society for forty-four years, from 1973 to 2017. He also served as editor-in-chief for the Journal of Mississippi History throughout his thirty-one years as department director. Brother Rogers, secretary-treasurer for the Society, said “Mr. Hilliard’s long record of public service is an example for every public official in the state. He dedicated his career to promoting the preservation and understanding of Mississippi history. He will be remembered not only for his achievements, but also for his personal rectitude, humility, and generosity.”




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