Cotton Kingdom, 1833–1865

Sarah Anne Ellis Dorsey: A Woman of Uncommon Mind

Theme and Time Period

Without question, Sarah Anne Ellis Dorsey was one of the most intellectually gifted women of Mississippi.  With considerable aplomb, she dealt as best she could with the emotional tensions arising from her lifelong compulsion to balance the conventional female role of the plantation South with a more rigorous life of the mind.  Her heart and soul refused to submit to all the repressive demands that held women in a virtual prison, called hearth and home.  But finding a proper balance between these polarities in the 19th century was scarcely easy.  

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

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

Theme and Time Period

In its 19th century beginning, the seafood industry in Biloxi, Mississippi, supplied only local markets with its succulent shrimp and plump oysters, and coast residents had always enjoyed the bounty of the harvest. Located on the water’s edge of the Gulf of Mexico, the city erected the Biloxi Lighthouse in 1848 to guide fishermen safely home. Locally caught and processed seafood could not be shipped to any market of great distance since there was no way to prevent spoilage.

Making Ice in Mississippi

Theme and Time Period

Man-made ice is a common everyday item, one that Americans take for granted. It is produced as small cubes in refrigerators at homes and businesses, and fills ice chests at parks and beaches for use whenever we need or want it.

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.

Surviving the Worst: The Wreck of the Sultana at the End of the American Civil War

Theme and Time Period

It was late April 1865 and more than 2,000 tired, sick, and injured men, wearing dirty and tattered clothes, filed down the bluff from Vicksburg to a steamboat waiting at the docks on the Mississippi River.

The city of Vicksburg was ravaged by the American Civil War, and so were the men who were about to board the steamboat Sultana. Almost all were Union soldiers who had survived the battlefields only to be captured by Confederate troops and sent to prison camps in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi.

Surviving the Worst: The Wreck of the Sultana at the End of the American Civil War Lesson Plan


On April 27, 1865, the steamboat Sultana exploded and sank some seven miles north of Memphis, Tennessee. The steamboat was carrying former Union prisoners of war that had boarded at Vicksburg, Mississippi, plus civilian passengers and the ship’s crew. About 1,700 of the approximately 2,400 passengers died in this disaster.