Promise and Peril, 1903–1927

Marcus Shook: A Mississippi Hero

Theme and Time Period

For more than seventy-two years, the ten-man crew of a particular World War II United States Army Air Forces B-17 has held a special place in the hearts of the citizens of Lomianki, Poland. The airmen named their Flying Fortress “I’ll Be Seeing You” after the song that was made so popular during the war by the renowned singer Bing Crosby that it became an anthem for American and British servicemen who were stationed away from their loved ones. Sgt.

The Truth About the Boll Weevil

Theme and Time Period

During the early 1900s, the boll weevil threatened the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta and put the state’s cotton kingdom in peril. Surprisingly, planters believed that the best way to defend their cotton from the weevil was to protect their place on top of the racial and social ladder in the Delta. James Giesen’s research reveals the ways in which the beliefs of White landowners concerning race and labor shaped the approach of Delta planters to their agricultural environment and its pests.

The History of Mississippi University for Women

Theme and Time Period

Mississippi University for Women, originally the Mississippi Industrial Institute and College for the Education of White Girls, was the first taxpayer supported college for women in the United States.

Senator Pat Harrison: New Deal Wheelhorse (1933-1941) Suspicious of His Load

Theme and Time Period

In 1936, Time magazine suggested that “better than any living man, Senator Byron Patton Harrison of Mississippi represents in his spindle-legged, round-shouldered, freckle-faced person the modern history of the Democratic Party.” By then Harrison had been in politics since 1906 and now, thirty years later, he was chairman of the most powerful committee in the United States Senate. His political era had begun when the Democratic Party was in the doldrums, yet he had won national attention in the 1920s when Republicans held the presidency and control of Congress.

Senator Pat Harrison: New Deal Wheelhorse (1933-1941) Suspicious of His Load Lesson Plan


Senator Pat Harrison served his native state of Mississippi in both the U.S. House of Representatives (1911-1919) and the U.S. Senate (1919-1941). In a political career that spanned more than thirty years, Harrison represented his state and nation during difficult times. He served during World War I, during the 1930s Great Depression, and during the buildup to World War II. It was during these challenging times that Harrison served as chairman of the powerful Committee on Finance in the U.S. Senate.

James O. Eastland

Theme and Time Period

In 1949, political scientist V. O. Key suggested that “insofar as any geographical division remains within the politics of [Mississippi] it falls along the line that separates the delta and the hills.” By the time Key thus defined the state’s political line of demarcation, James O. Eastland had already been a significant player on both sides of it.

Aaron Henry: A Civil Rights Leader of the 20th Century

Theme and Time Period

Aaron Henry was born in 1922 in Coahoma County, Mississippi, the son of sharecroppers. From a young age, he worked in the cotton fields alongside his family on the Flowers Plantation outside of Clarksdale. He remembered those years vividly when he recalled, “As far back as I can remember, I have detested everything about growing cotton.” Regardless of his early hardships, education was a priority for the Henry family.

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

Clyde Kennard: A Little-Known Civil Rights Pioneer

Theme and Time Period

Clyde Kennard put his life on the line in the 1950s when he attempted to desegregate higher education in Mississippi. Kennard, a little-known civil rights pioneer, tried to become the first African American to attend Mississippi Southern College, now The University of Southern Mississippi, in Hattiesburg. In doing so, he ran afoul of the White political establishment and paid a heavy price. After his tragic death, his story was overshadowed by other developments in the civil rights movement.