Sunday, January 30, 2011

USM Special Collections

     Last week my LIS class visited McCain Library's special achieves. Upon arriving, the host librarian had already chosen various pieces to show the class. The pieces ranged from numerous versions of "Little Red Riding Hood" from the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection to Civil Rights era artifacts to cultural documents from the Mississippia Collection. 

     My favorite pieces shown were from the collection of documents pertaining to former Mississippi senator and governor Theodore Bilbo. The librarian shared with the class that special collections hosts over 2,500 boxes of documents pertaining to Gov. Bilbo and his affairs. Though I most certainly do not agree with the principles, or lack there of, that Gov. Bilbo stood for, he was without doubt, an interesting character. The host librarian read various documents donated by Gov. Bilbo's children back in the 1960s. The pieces ranged from official government documents about everything from war to Italians to personal "hate mail" he received as well as their bold replies from Gov. Bilbo himself. One example of a "hate letter" was sent from a Northern couple. Apparently Gov. Bilbo appeared in an article for Time magazine sometime earlier that and the Northern couple had a few disparaging words for Gov. Bilbo. Attached with the letter was the photo that appeared alongside of the article. It pictured Gov. Bilbo standing near a donkey in front of what appeared to be a barn. The couple wittily asked which of the two pictured was the "jackass." I just thought that was hysterical. 

   I throughly enjoyed visiting the special collections here at USM. I will most definitely revisit to read more on Bilbo's antics when I need a good laugh.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

USM’s Centennial Exhibit

The University of Southern Mississippi had the pleasure of celebrating its centennial birthday in March of 2010. Upon such a joyful celebration, the university set up an exhibit in the R.C. Cook Library to display various donations given to the university to celebrate 100 years. 

Within the exhibit USM’s rich history is recorded and proudly displayed. At the entrance, an aerial view of campus hangs on the wall. This design was created by Chattanooga architect, R.H. Hunt, in 1910. On July 25, 1911 the design for the construction of College Hall, Hattiesburg Hall, Forrest County Hall, the Honor House, and the Ogletree House was approved.

A few steps away from the campus’s blueprint is a display of a red band coat worn by a Pride band member during the 1960s and 1970s. Though red is not traditionally one of USM’s school colors, red coats wore worn to honor then president, William D. McCain, and his Scottish heritage. Also at that time, The Pride was accompanied by a bagpipe ensemble to additionally honor McCain’s Scottish ancestry.

Perhaps the most recognizable building on campus is what students and faculty refer to as “The Dome.” However, the legitimate name of “The Dome” is the Aubrey K. Lucas Administration Building, named after USM’s sixth president.  Yet another staple in USM’s history is the establishment of the Dixie Darlings. The Dixie Darlings were established in 1952 as an accompaniment to The Pride of Mississippi. Even in the 1950s the Darlings sported the famous white boots and gloves along with a black velvet top and shorts adorned with gold embellishments, much like the uniform worn by present day Darlings.

Though the Dixie Darlings are a symbol of USM, perhaps an even bigger symbol is Eagle athletics. USM’s first football team can be traced back to 1912 consisting of thirteen men total. The first football team played their premiere football game at Kamper Park against a local Boy Scout troop although later games were played against various opponents such as Mississippi College, Southwestern Louisiana, and long-time rival, Ole Miss. Since its premiere in 1912, USM athletics have gone through various mascot changes, about six total. Some past mascots include the Tigers, Normalties, Yellow Jackets, Confederates, Southerners, and finally the Golden Eagles.

Though Southern Miss experienced various changes with what symbol should represent the university, one symbol has stood the test of time. Black and gold have acted as USM’s colors since its opening. Inspiration for the colors came from a student, Florence Burrow Pope, who after seeing Black Eyed Susan flowers became inspired to propose black and gold as a contender for the school’s colors.  After a student-wide vote, black and gold became the official colors of the University of Southern Mississippi. However, black and gold act as more than just representative colors. Black and gold are the colors of every Eagle’s heart, both past and present.