The University of Southern Mississippi -- McCain Library and Archives
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Collection Title: Higdon (May) Papers
Collection Number: M117
Dates: 1889 - 1927
Volume: .25 cu. ft.
Restrictions: Available for research use by the serious student and scholar.
Ella May Higdon grew up in Caseyville, Mississippi, a town that was originally in Copiah County, but is now in Lincoln County. Little information is available concerning her family, but it is known that she had an aunt named Hattie and uncle named Dennis.
While May Higdon was attending the Blue Mountain Female College, she studied under Mr. Albert Hamilton Ellett, the Director of the Training School and the author of four books: The Poems of Professor A. H. Ellett, Ellett’s Outline of U.S. History, Outline of Mississippi History, and The Federal Union and Mississippi; a Civil Government for use in the Grammar Grades of the Public Schools.
May Higdon’s first job after college was to teach the winter semester at the Gilchrist School in Jasper County, Mississippi, where her students ranged from the ages of six to sixteen. She moved on to Homochitto School in Amite County for the summer session of 1904. She continued to work at a different school every year (Chamberlain, Topisaw, and Nola) until she reached the Newell Shed School in 1907. Her students at this school ranged between the ages of five and eighteen.
While Higdon was working at the Newell Shed School, she was lucky enough to earn her Lifetime Teachers Certificate in 1908. This certificate was signed by Joe Cook, E. Brown, and Y.W. Huddleston. Joe Cook later became the first President of the Mississippi Normal College (now the University of Southern Mississippi).
Higdon continued teaching at Newell Shed School until 1909, when she became the principal at Macedonia School for a year. She moved to another principal position in the Centerville, Mission Hill School in 1910. In 1911 she began teaching fourth grade at Wesson High School, where her students ranged in age from eight to fifteen. Records indicate that she taught there until 1913. In 1926 she became the assistant principal at the Riceville Consolidated School in Harrison County, and stayed there for a year.
Contents of the Collection
This collection contains a Bible, a notebook, two letters of recommendation, a social letter, a teacher’s certificate, a church program, and two newspapers relating to the life and work of Miss May Higdon, who taught in Mississippi's public schools for many years. The collection consists of four folders.
The second folder contains a notebook. It has several pages of hand written mathematical word problems, and the names and ages of May Higdon's students at the schools in which she taught (Gilchrist, Homochitto, Chamberlain, Topisaw, Nola, Newell, Macedonia, Mission Hill, Wesson, and Riceville Consolidated). She also has written in the names of the Principals and Assistant Principals for four of her schools (Macedonia, Mission Hill, Wesson and Riceville Consolidated), and a list of the faculty at Wesson. Towards the end of the notebook are three personal notes that begin with “Remember well…”
Folder number three contains a variety of personal materials. The first item is a letter of recommendation from A. H. Ellett of Blue Mountain, Mississippi, May 21, 1903. It is addressed to "School Authorities", informing them of May Higdon's skills and personality. The second item is also a letter of recommendation written by C. W. Grafton, Wesson, Mississippi, July 21, 1909. The letter informs its recipient of May Higdon's good religious background, skills and personality. The next letter, dated January 29, 1908, is to May Higdon from her Aunt Hattie, and it discusses flowering plants, the illness of Miss Higdon's mother, and Uncle Dennis' 61st birthday. The fourth item is May Higdon’s lifetime teacher’s certificate, dated September 4, 1908. The final item is a program for the 100th Anniversary of the Organization of East Fork Church in Amite County, Mississippi, dated September 10, 1910.
There are two newspapers in this collection. The Golden Age is a newspaper printed in Atlanta, Georgia and dated January 30, 1908. The New Standard is a Blue Mountain, Mississippi newspaper, dated May 14, 1903. The paper features articles by the students and faculty of Blue Mountain College, including a lengthy article titled, "An Address", written by May Higdon’s former teacher, A. H. Ellett.