'Mississippi Women' book signing today at Link Centre

TUPELO – Women in Mississippi’s past come alive in a new book that celebrates their achievements, struggles and place in the state’s history.
The second volume of “Mississippi Women: Their Histories, Their Lives” is being released, and a reception is today at the Link Centre to celebrate. Both volumes are products of the Mississippi Women’s History Project.
The first volume of “Mississippi Women” was a collection of biographies, capturing Mississippi’s well-known ladies such as Fannie Lou Hamer and Eudora Welty, as well as lesser-known women who also made important contributions, such as feminist Minnie Brewer and microbiologist Elizabeth Lee Hazen.
The second volume, said editor Elizabeth Payne, is more thematic.
Essay topics include free black women in antebellum Natchez, women in the Civil Rights movement in Claiborne County, white women’s clubs and the effect home electrification had on women in Northeast Mississippi.
While the books are rich in scholarship, they are not written only for historians or scholars.
“One of the major purposes is to educate people in the state about the various roles that women have played throughout the state’s history, and give them a sense of appreciation and pride,” said Nancy Grayson, editor-in-chief at the books’ publisher, University of Georgia Press. “It’s heartening that we’re able to profile such a diversity of courageous, enterprising, and influential women who have made contributions in so many fields.”
The “Mississippi Women” books have spawned similar books in other states, such as Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia. Grayson hopes to continue the books in all Southern states.
Payne said the woman on the second volume’s cover is very telling about Mississippi women.
The image, courtesy of the Smithsonian, is of a Mississippi Choctaw woman looking directly into the camera. Native Americans often looked away from the camera because they believed it could capture their souls.
“I thought it said a lot about Mississippi women,” Payne said. “She wouldn’t let herself be captured.”
Contact Sheena Barnett at (662) 678-1580 or sheena.barnett@djournal.com.

“Mississippi Women: Their Histories, Their Lives – Volume 2″
Who: Editors Elizabeth Payne and Martha Swain
When: 4-6 p.m. today
Where: Link Centre
Info: (662) 690-4011

Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal