Cultural Crossroads, 1519–1798

Free People of Color in Colonial Natchez (1700-1798)

Theme and Time Period

The history of the Colonial Natchez District, Mississippi’s most successful early European settlement, is one frequently told through the eyes and accounts of White settlers. Yet, Natchez was built primarily through the backbreaking work of enslaved Africans. During Natchez’s first century, people from Europe and Africa, along with Native Americans, struggled with each other over land, labor, and wealth. However, not all Africans in Natchez were enslaved.

Shipbuilding Along the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Theme and Time Period

“Build me straight, O worthy Master!
Stanch and strong, a goodly vessel,
That shall laugh at all disaster
And with wave and whirlwind wrestle!”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Architecture in Mississippi: From Prehistoric to 1900

Theme and Time Period

The study of historic architectural styles provides us a unique way to learn how our ancestors lived and worked, how and what they built, and what they thought about themselves and their society as expressed in their buildings. Mississippi has a wide variety of architectural styles. Here is an overview of them.

Architecture in Mississippi Lesson Plan


Studying the architecture of the communities in our state can reveal new insights into our history and culture. Using examples of a log cabin and a more ornate Federal style house, students can easily draw conclusions about differences in ways of living. This lesson will encourage further investigation of a variety of architectural styles used throughout the state’s history and a consideration of how our buildings reflect who we are and the realities of our world from one time period to another.

The Geography of Mississippi

Theme and Time Period

Ask people to define “geography,” and most of them will initially say it is location — where a place is. The “where” is certainly central to geography, and with tools such as maps and global positioning technology, geography is the subject best equipped to address a question about location. However, a simple exercise will illustrate that geography is much more than just location.

Geography of Mississippi Lesson Plan


The geography of an area is what makes a location unique and distinguishes it from any other place. With its beaches, Spanish moss, magnolias, white-tailed deer, and the great Mississippi River, Mississippi is unique and rich in natural beauty. Along with this natural beauty, a distinct way of life that is rich in history and a culture deeply rooted in the diversity of its people can be found here in the Magnolia State. It is this human and physical geography that makes Mississippi distinguishable from the other forty-nine U.S. states.

Native Mississippi: Some New Perspectives

Theme and Time Period

Mound building

In recent years scientists have begun to reconsider some old assumptions about the earliest people in the New World. Perhaps the biggest revolution in archaeology has occurred because of research done in Louisiana. This research suggests that the earliest mounds and mound groups in the world were built in Louisiana and Mississippi during what is referred to as the Middle Archaic period (8000 to 4500 BP) by archaeologists. These dates predate the Great Wall of China, Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids.

Italians in Mississippi Lesson Plan


Much of the story of Mississippi’s people, both past and present, has focused on, as Willie Morris writes, her two great blood sources: Great Britain and West Africa. (Morris, My Mississippi , p. 36)   However, it is both short-sighted and historically incorrect to ignore the influences of other smaller ethnic groups in the state’s development.  The Italians comprise one such group.  In this lesson, students will study how and why the Italians came to Mississippi.  They will discover unique aspects of the Italian heritage and their contributions to the state’s culture.

Gideon Lincecum (1793-1874): Mississippi Pioneer and Man of Many Talents Lesson Plan


In every period of history there exist extraordinary citizens that make everlasting contributions to their society. Gideon Lincecum is one such individual. Through his writings we can gain much insight into the experiences of settlers during the early period of Mississippi’s statehood. His works are an invaluable source of reference for grasping an understanding of how social and cultural changes effected Mississippians of his era.


Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 1, 2, and 3.