Student Curated Exhibits Featured in Special Collections

News item published on: 2015-09-01 11:14:32

Special Collections at Southern Miss has created a new exhibit program that allows students to curate mini-exhibits featuring materials from the collections. Students learn how to select items to display, install the materials, write label and exhibit text, and how to publicize the exhibit. This semester features three exhibits by graduate students from the Department of History.

Black Minstrel Shows and American Popular Culture, curated by history PhD student Lynn A. Cowles, examines the incorporation of black stereotypes into American popular culture. Minstrel shows, known for blackface depictions of African Americans, created a set of specific characters that reflected the beliefs of whites, rather than the realities of African American life during the 19th and early 20th centuries. These stereotypes transitioned from minstrel shows, which lost popularity after the end of the World War I, into other forms of entertainment, including radio shows, movies, and children’s books.

NOW in the 80s, curated by history master’s student, Anna Rikki Nelson, focuses on the activities of Mississippi’s National Organization for Women during the early 1980s. NOW’s activities during this time included advocating for the passing of the Equal Rights Amendment, opposing challenges to abortion rights, fundraising for support candidates who supported NOW causes, and opposing Ronald Reagan’s economic plans.

In The Soldier’s Home Away From Home, Eve Wade, a third year history PhD student, curates an exhibit dedicated to remembering two of the city’s USOs. Using documents from the Daisy Harris Wade Papers, the Cargill-Powers Photograph’s, and The Tatum Family Collection, the importance of services provided to servicemen stationed at Camp Shelby during World War II are illuminated.

Later this month, Special Collections will be accepting applications from undergraduate and graduate students to curate an exhibit for the spring semester. These exhibits will be on display on the third floor of McCain Library & Archives until December 15. If you have any questions about the program or the exhibits on display, contact Jennifer Brannock at  or 601.266.4347.