The Seafood Industry in Biloxi: Its Early History, 1848-1930 Lesson Plan

Karla Smith


In the 19th century, a large seafood industry developed on the Mississippi Gulf Coast due in large part to new canning methods, production of commercial ice, financial investors, and the development of the railroad in the region. By the early 1900s, the coastal city of Biloxi became known as the “Seafood Capital of the World.” Workers migrated to the city for seasonal work in the factories, settled in the area, and added to the cultural landscape. Remnants of this once flourishing industry can still be seen today in the few seafood factories that remain, the local cuisine served in popular restaurants, the Blessing of the Fleet, and the Biloxi Seafood Festival.


Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 1 – 4.


Grades 7 through 12.


  • Mississippi History Now article, “Seafood Industry in Biloxi: Its Early History, 1848-1930”
  • Unlined paper
  • Rulers
  • Markers/colored pencils
  • Poster board
  • Whiteboard and marker


Students will:

  1. construct a timeline that shows the development of the Biloxi seafood industry.
  2. write a newspaper advertisement that seeks seafood factory workers for a cannery.
  3. create a poster that illustrates the heritage and importance of the Biloxi seafood industry.


The teacher will ask the students how many of them enjoy seafood. The teacher can ask for student volunteers to share what type of seafood dishes they enjoy. The teacher will then ask the students what Mississippi city was once known as the “Seafood Capital of the World.” The teacher will tell the students that the city of Biloxi received this distinction in the early 1900s and that today’s lesson will focus upon this once flourishing coastal industry.


  1. Instruct the students to construct a timeline that lists ten major events in the development of the Biloxi seafood industry that are outlined in the Mississippi History Now article. Students may choose a partner to work with on this class assignment. There may be a need to review the process of creating a timeline with the students.
  2. After the students have completed the timelines, ask for volunteers to share major events they have listed on their timelines. The teacher can draw a timeline on the board and allow student volunteers to come to the board to list their events.
  3. The teacher will lead a discussion of the timeline events that lead up to the decline of the Biloxi seafood market after World War I. The teacher will emphasize that citizens created the Seafood Festival to emphasize the significance of the seafood industry in Biloxi.
  4. The teacher will allow the students to continue working with a partner for this portion of the lesson. The students will be instructed to design a newspaper advertisement for seafood factory workers that might have been placed in a newspaper around the turn of the century. The student advertisements can be displayed along with the student timelines on a classroom bulletin board.


Place the students into groups of three. Instruct the students to design a poster that advertises the Biloxi Seafood Festival. Tell the students that the poster should convey the heritage and importance of the seafood industry to the city of Biloxi. Poster board or unlined paper may be used to create the poster. Allow the students to display their posters in the classroom or hallway.


  1. Class participation
  2. Timelines
  3. Newspaper advertisements
  4. Posters


  1. Plan a seafood festival.
  2. Create a seafood cookbook.
  3. Compare and contrast the seafood industry of today with the industry of the 19th century.
  4. Research the Blessing of the Fleet ceremony.
  5. Take a field trip to ride on one of the Biloxi schooners.
  6. Research cultural groups that migrated to the area to work in the seafood industry.