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PY-263758-19

University of Mississippi Medical Center (Jackson, MS 39216-4505)
Amy Wiese Forbes (Project Director: May 2018 to May 2021)
Finding Community: Documenting Descendants of Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum Patients in History and Cultural Memory

Two community collection days to digitize materials and collect oral histories related to the Mississippi State Insane Asylum, which was located on the site of the University of Mississippi Medical College (UMMC) from 1855 to 1935.  After a University construction crew discovered coffins from the Asylum’s cemetery in 2012, many descendants contacted news sites and the university to request details and offer information.  The proposed events would seek to reach and unite the interested members of the descendant community and provide information about collective identity and history through family stories, historical context, and analysis.  History students from Jackson State University and Millsaps College would assist in collecting contextual information, and, with donor permission, digitized items would be made available via the UMMC library’s digital archive.

This project explores family and cultural memory of the Mississippi State Insane Asylum (1855 to 1935) descendant community by gathering, documenting and providing access to untold histories of family involvement with the Asylum and what that involvement has meant to descendants. It is significant to community members because it will preserve previously undocumented historical materials related to the Asylum, bring the Asylum descendant community together as co-authors of the Asylum’s history, collect evidence of the Asylum’s place in the community’s cultural memory, share information with the community about the Asylum’s history that is currently known, and educate the descendant community about the importance of preserving its past and how to do it. It includes 2 days of digitization, oral history, public exhibition of donated materials, preservation seminars, discussions of Asylum history, cultural memory and ethics, and descendant community input for future programs.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Cultural History

Program:
Common Heritage

Division:
Preservation and Access

Totals:
$11,993 (approved)
$7,782 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2019 – 6/30/2020