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.”



Two Mississippi Museums to Host Passover Freedom Seder April 11

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) and the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life (ISJL) will hold the Mississippi Freedom Seder on Thursday, April 11, at 6 p.m. in the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium of the Two Mississippi Museums.

Inspired by the 1969 Freedom Seder in Washington DC, where hundreds of people of all backgrounds gathered to explore and celebrate freedom in the context of the Civil Rights Movement, this event invites participants to the Passover table for an evening of commemoration, stories, and community.  

“We are pleased to co-host the third Mississippi Freedom Seder with our community partners,” said Katie Blount, MDAH director.  “This year marks the 60th anniversary of Freedom Summer, so we remember the courage of visiting Freedom Summer volunteers in 1964, many of whom were Jewish, who joined with Mississippians to fight for racial equality.”   

“Our Mississippi Freedom Seder in 2023 brought our communities together for conversation and reflection,” said Michele Schipper, CEO of the ISJL. “We are excited to co-host this event again and tell these Mississippi stories.”

This participatory program will include a Passover meal. All are welcome and invited to join us in honoring this historic tradition.  

Rabbi Matt Dreffin from T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights will lead the program, which also includes music from Jayla Lomax and stories from Freedom Summer.

Passover is an eight-day Jewish holiday, referred to as the “festival of freedom.” Passover celebrates the liberation of the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt. The traditional meal, where the story of Passover is shared along with rituals, readings, songs, and food, is called a Seder. Seders celebrate freedom from bondage and freedom from oppression, providing a shared communal celebration of freedom and friendship for all.   

At the first Freedom Seder, held on April 4, 1969, more than 800 people gathered in a church in Washington, DC, to commemorate the first anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s death. Using the words of the traditional Passover Seder, calling for justice, peace, and liberation, the 1969 Freedom Seder strengthened Black and Jewish community relations and established a touchstone for contemporary Seders.  

The Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum are in downtown Jackson at 222 North Street. Free parking can be found alongside North Street or in the Two Mississippi Museum’s visitors’ garage on Jefferson Street.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for students, and are available for purchase here.  For more information, call 601-576-6800, email, or visit


Eddie S. Glaude Jr. Book Signing and Discussion at Two Mississippi Museums on April 4

March 08, 2024

On Thursday, April 4, at 6 p.m., bestselling author and Princeton University professor Eddie S. Glaude Jr. will discuss his latest book, We Are the Leaders We Have Been Looking For, at the Two Mississippi Museums in Jackson. This event is free, open to the public, with no registration or reservation required.  

In partnership with the Mississippi Book Festival, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) will host Glaude with Pamela D.C. Junior, former director of the Two Mississippi Museums and member of the Foundation for Mississippi History Board of Directors, as event moderator.  

“We look forward to celebrating Mississippian Eddie Glaude’s latest work with the community,” said Ellen Daniels, executive director of the Mississippi Book Festival. “Glaude is a testament to Mississippi and a critical voice in relaying the urgency and importance of individual agency in the efforts to sustain American democracy.” 

Copies of We Are the Leaders We Have Been Looking For will be available for purchase in the Mississippi Museum Store, and a book signing will be held at 5 p.m. in the lobby of the museums. A Q&A will immediately follow the 6 p.m. book discussion. 

“We are excited to welcome home distinguished author and professor Eddie Glaude to share his latest work with Mississippians during his book tour,” said Michael Morris, director of the Two Mississippi Museums. A Moss Point native, Glaude is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University.  

Glaude is the author of several books, including Democracy in Black and The New York Times bestseller Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own, winner of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Book Prize. He frequently appears in the media as an MSNBC contributor on programs like Morning Joe and Deadline: White House and as a columnist for TIME Magazine


Mississippi Makers Fest Returns to Two Mississippi Museums May 11

Mississippi blues and Grammy award-winning artist Christone “Kingfish” Ingram will headline the free 2024 Mississippi Makers Fest—a music, food, and arts festival sponsored by Nissan—at the Two Mississippi Museums from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 11. Additional musical performers include Hud & The Hurricane and American Blonde. 

The free event will kick off the 2024 summer season with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History’s third annual Mississippi Makers Fest. More than 40 vendors and food trucks will gather to celebrate Mississippi’s creativity in its finest form. Visitors can look forward to handcrafted pottery, paintings, charcuterie boards, jewelry, and more from local vendors. Mini Makers also returns, full of make-and-take crafts and activities for children, including face painting. Mississippi Animal Rescue League will have furry friends ready to be adopted from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m and will be accepting donations 

“Nissan is a proud supporter of Mississippi Makers Fest, bringing friends and neighbors together to celebrate the immense creativity of the Magnolia state,” said Chandra Vassar, chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion officer for Nissan Americas and president of the Nissan Foundation. “Supporting artists and creators helps foster community, bolster innovation and encourage empathy, creating a world where everyone feels they belong. In collaboration with a partner that shares our values of courage, equity and inclusivity like the Two Mississippi Museums, we’re honored to give back to Mississippians who have given us so much over the 20 years we’ve been manufacturing in the state.” 

Other sponsors include Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi, the City of Jackson, Nancy and Ray Neilsen, StateStreet Group, Visit Mississippi, Capital City Beverages, the Foundation for Mississippi History, Cathead Distillery, Lucid Ink, Mississippi Tent and Party Rental, Visit Jackson, and radio stations Y101, 102.1 The Box, Blues 93.1, Your Hometown Country US96, Mix 98.7, and 93.5 The Legend. 

“The Two Mississippi Museums are grateful to have Nissan as the title sponsor of the 2024 Mississippi Makers Fest—making it possible to have such an inspirational and talented musical lineup for this year's event,” said Michael Morris, director of the Two Mississippi Museums. “We'll also offer free admission that day, creating a wonderful opportunity for visitors, especially young people, to explore the state's rich history in the museums.”

Mississippi Animal Rescue League (MARL) will hold on-site pet adoptions from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will be accepting monetary and pet supply donations. Pet supply donations can also be dropped off prior to the event in the lobby of the Two Mississippi Museums.

Blankets and one collapsible lawn chair per person are allowed. Only clear bags will be allowed through security—including purses, fanny packs, diaper bags, and all other bags.  

The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the Museum of Mississippi History are in downtown Jackson at 222 North Street.  

For more information on Mississippi Makers Fest, join the event at @MSMakersFest, visit, or email  



Mississippi Historical Society Meets, Awards Prizes

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


Mississippi Civil Rights Museum Places in 2024 USA Today Best History Museum Contest

The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum (MCRM) placed fourth in USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Travel Awards contest for Best History Museum in the United States. MCRM placed among 20 prestigious American museums, such as the Heinz History Center, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, the National Air and Space Museum, and the Cincinnati History Museum among others.    

USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Awards first nominated MCRM in the fall of 2023. The online contest ran January 15 through February 12, with contest rules allowing the public to vote online for one nominee per category, per day.     

“We are honored that the museum placed so high in the 2024 USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Travel Award Contest for Best History Museum,” said Michael Morris, director for the Two Mississippi Museums of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH). “We are grateful for this national recognition of excellence.”  

Visitors to MCRM are greeted with a timeline of African American history in Mississippi before moving to interactive exhibits that chronicle the events of Mississippi’s Civil Rights Movement, from World War II through 1975.

The museum embraces complex stories and tells them with unflinching academic rigor, engaging visitors with the deeply witnessed truths of historic records, artifacts, and archival photographs and footage.

Visitors learn the stories of Mississippians like Medgar Evers, James Meredith, Fannie Lou Hamer, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, and Vernon Dahmer and stories of those who traveled many miles to walk beside them in the journey toward equality.

The Two Mississippi Museums—the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum—opened in December 2017. The Mississippi Legislature funded construction of the $100 million complex along with generous support from private donors.  


Flags From Mississippi: Emblems Through Time Exhibit Opens March 9

Flags From Mississippi: Emblems Through Time opens March 9 at the Two Mississippi Museums in the FedEx Exhibition Hall. Rarely shown state, national, and military flags from the collection of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) will be on display through November 8. Admission to this exhibit is free. 

“The Two Mississippi Museums are excited to share this free, special flag exhibition curated by MDAH staff,” said Michael Morris, director of the Two Mississippi Museums. “We invite the public to explore and examine how flags illustrate the various ways inhabitants of Mississippi have chosen to symbolize threads of culture and belief throughout time.” 

The exhibit features 20 flags made from a variety of fabrics, such as wool and silk. Some were sewn by hand. Highlights include an original Magnolia flag, adopted in 1861 as the first official flag of Mississippi, that has been saved by conservators after it became severely fragmented. 

The show also includes military flags and battle flags captured during the Civil War. Visitors will see the First National Flag of the Confederacy, commonly known as the Stars and Bars, which was seized by Samuel Loring Percival Ayers of the USS Pensacola at Vicksburg on July 4, 1863. Another highlight is a reproduction of the 5th Heavy Artillery Regimental flag of the United States Colored Troops, an African American regiment formed in Vicksburg that fought in the Battle of Milliken’s Bend. 

A flag officially adopted by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians in 1994 displays symbols expressing resilience, progress achieved in the face of adversity, and Choctaw political ties spanning the last 500 years with Mississippi, the United States, Spain, and France. 

Flags From Mississippi: Emblems Through Time exhibit programming includes free gallery talks on March 14, June 14, and August 22, and a lecture at the History Is Lunch program on August 21.  

For more information, go to or call 601-576-6850. 


Joy-Ann Reid to Speak at Medgar Wiley Evers Lecture Series

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) is pleased to announce Joy-Ann Reid as the 2024 Medgar Wiley Evers Lecture Series speaker. The program will be held on Tuesday, February 13, at 6 p.m. in the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium of the Two Mississippi Museums.

The event is free and open to the public. Registration is not required. Weapons and large bags are prohibited. Attendees will undergo a quick security screening.

Reid, a New York Times bestselling author, political commentator, and host of MSNBC’s The ReidOut, will discuss her latest book Medgar and Myrlie: Medgar Evers and the Love Story That Awakened America with event moderator Ebony Lumumba, chair of the English department at Jackson State University. A book signing will be hosted by Lemuria Books before the program at 5 p.m. in the auditorium. 

Medgar and Myrlie: Medgar Evers and the Love Story That Awakened America traces the lives and legacy of civil rights icons Medgar and Myrlie Evers, situating Medgar Evers's assassination as a catalyzing moment in American history. 

“MDAH is excited to welcome journalist and author Joy-Ann Reid to Mississippi to deliver the 2024 Medgar Wiley Evers Lecture,” said Katie Blount, director of MDAH. “This will be the first lecture in the series to focus on the historic accomplishments of Medgar and Myrlie Evers.” 

The Medgar Wiley Evers Lecture Series was established in 2003 to honor the legacy of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, one year after Myrlie Evers made an extraordinary gift to the people of Mississippi when she presented the Medgar and Myrlie Evers papers to MDAH.  

One of the most significant collections in the department’s care, the Evers Collection has been an invaluable resource as MDAH has worked to develop exhibits for the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.  

Previous Evers lecturers include Lonnie Bunch, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Eddie Glaude Jr., Manning Marable, Robert P. Moses, and Isabel Wilkerson. The series is supported by W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute.   



Spence Flatgard Re-elected President to MDAH Board of Trustees, MDAH Board Member Updates

Spence Flatgard of Ridgeland was re-elected as president of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) Board of Trustees during its regular meeting in Jackson on January 19, 2024.

The board also elected Nancy Carpenter of Columbus as vice president and Mark Keenum of Starkville to a second six-year term.  

Lucius “Luke” Lampton of Magnolia, who was completing an unexpired term, has been elected to his first full six-year term.

Members of the MDAH board serve six-year terms and must be confirmed by the state senate. Other members are Carter Burns of Natchez, TJ Taylor of Madison, Reginald Buckley of Jackson, and Betsey Hamilton of New Albany.

MDAH is the second-oldest state department of archives and history in the United States. The department collects, preserves, and provides access to the archival resources of the state, administers various museums and historic sites, and oversees statewide programs for historic preservation, state and local government records management, and publications.

For more information, call 601-576-6850 or email


MDAH Awards $3.4M in Community Heritage Preservation Grants

The Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) approved $3.4 million in grants through the Community Heritage Preservation Grant (CHPG) program to seventeen preservation and restoration projects in Mississippi at its regular meeting on January 19. 

The CHPG program is authorized and funded by the Mississippi Legislature and has provided more than $61 million to preservation projects across the state since its inception in 2001. Schools, courthouses, and other Mississippi Landmark properties in Certified Local Government communities are eligible for the program to help pay the costs incurred in preserving, restoring, rehabilitating, repairing, or interpreting such historic properties identified by certified local governments or owned by the state of Mississippi.  

“The Legislature has saved hundreds of significant Mississippi properties through this program,” said MDAH director Katie Blount. “The Department of Archives and History is grateful for the Legislature's support and pleased to be able to help preserve these local treasures.” 

The grant awards are as follows: 

  • Angelety House, Natchez, Adams County — ­$142,161 

Exterior, doors, windows, roof and  gutter repairs  

  • Carroll County Courthouse, Carrollton, Carroll County — $243,291 

Interior and exterior restoration; windows, doors, and cupola repairs  

  • Masonic Building and Courthouse, Okolona, Chickasaw County — $171,977 

Door and window restoration  

  • Okolona Elementary School, Okolona, Chickasaw County — $170,775 

Window restoration, interior and lighting repairs 

  • Harriette Person Memorial Library, Port Gibson, Claiborne County — $274,931 

Roof and decking repairs   

  • GM&O Railroad Depot, Quitman, Clarke County — $65,010 

Door and window restoration, interior and  exterior repairs   

  • Hattiesburg City Hall, Hattiesburg, Forrest County — $99,200 

Interior repairs, HVAC, and security upgrades   

  • Hinds County Courthouse, Jackson, Hinds County — $410,715 

Roof repairs  

  • Jefferson Davis County Courthouse, Prentiss, Jefferson Davis County — $182,118 

Roof repairs   

  • Spain House, Tupelo, Lee County — $110,936 

Interior restoration and repainting  

  • Greenwood Fire Station #1, Greenwood, Leflore County — $237,450 

Masonry repointing, HVAC, and electrical upgrades   

  • Tennessee Williams House, Columbus, Lowndes County — $158,423 

Front porch repairs and repainting  

  • Old Salem School, Macon, Noxubee County — $159,538 

Structural stabilization, masonry repointing, and general repairs 

  • Quitman County Courthouse, Marks, Quitman County — $188,008 

Exterior repairs and window restoration 

  • Sharkey County Courthouse, Rolling Fork, Sharkey County — $368,000 

Courtroom restoration  

  • Drew Rosenwald School, Drew, Sunflower County — $253,760 

Roof, masonry, door and window repairs, and electrical upgrades  

  • Senatobia High School, Senatobia, Tate County — $260,000

Window restoration, classroom, east, and west hallway repairs  

Grant awards are paid on a reimbursable basis upon the successful completion of the entire project or at the time of the completion of pre-established phases of the project. Prior to application, all buildings must have been designated Mississippi Landmarks. A cash match of at least 20 percent is required. Only county governments, municipal governments, school districts, universities, community colleges, state agencies, and nonprofit organizations that have obtained Section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the United States Internal Revenue Service may submit applications. 

To become a Certified Local Government (CLG), a community must adopt a preservation ordinance establishing a preservation commission in accordance with federal and state guidelines. Once the commission has been established, application for CLG status may be made to the National Park Service through the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. MDAH works closely with local government officials and citizens to help them create and manage a workable local historic preservation program.  

To learn more about the CHPG program, contact 601-576-6850 or email



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