Billups-Garth Archives Open this Saturday

The Billups-Garth Archives will be open this Saturday February 2, 2013 from 10:00am to 4:00pm.

Stop by and see us!

Published in: on January 31, 2013 at 3:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tom Mayfield shares stories from Columbus’ past

Tom Mayfield

Tom Mayfield

Tom Mayfield spoke yesterday about various events and stories from Columbus’ rich past to an audience of almost 40 locals at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library.

The stories, including the history of the Gilmer Hotel, the Dodson brothers from the 1936 Stephen D. Lee High School national championship football team, and the Gene Tate murder, are all from his newest book Whispers from Columbus Past: Stories from the Past that you Should Know.

Local historian Carolyn Burns Kaye also shared the history

Carolyn Burns Kaye

Carolyn Burns Kaye

of Major Thomas Garton Blewett (1798-1871) of the Stephen D. Lee House.  Kaye wrote a section on Blewett in Mayfield’s book.

Mayfield’s other books include The Life and Times of Tom Locke, The Sykes Homes of Columbus and Aberdeen, and Voices from the Prairie: Stories of Life on the Prairie.  

If you would like to order a copy of any of Mayfield’s books contact the Campbell Publishing Company at 336-703-9426 or email janiecmayfield@aol.com.

Published in: on January 29, 2013 at 9:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Library receives grant from National Endowment for the Humanities on Muslim history and culture

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced last week that the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library was one of 842 libraries nationwide and one of only three chosen in the state of Mississippi to be awarded the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf, a collection of books, films, and other resources that will introduce the American public to the complex history and culture of Muslims in the United States and around the world.

Developed by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association based on the advice of scholars, librarians, and other public programming experts, the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf is intended to address both the need and desire of the American public for trustworthy and accessible resources about Muslim beliefs and practices and the cultural heritage associated with Islamic civilizations. Each participating library will receive 25 books, 3 films, and access for one year to Oxford Islamic Studies Online.

The resources included in the bookshelf touch on various aspects of Islamic and Middle Eastern culture such as art, poetry, literature, history, and faith. Examples of the books included are: Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi, The House of Wisdom: How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge and Gave Us the Renaissance by Jim Al-Khalili, The Arabian Nights edited by Mushin Mahdi, and The Children of Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, Islam by F.E. Peters.

Library Interim Director Erin Stringer said, “Receiving the Muslim Journey’s bookshelf is just one more way in which the library strives to provide our community with access to a variety of enriching and engaging resources.”

The Columbus-Lowndes Public Library will also host a series of events and presentations in conjunction with the Muslim Journey’s Bookshelf resources.  More information on these events will be released soon.

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the NEH supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the NEH and its grant programs is available at http://www.neh.gov.

For more information about the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf and associated upcoming programs at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library please contact Mona K. Vance at 662-329-5304 or by email at mvance@lowndes.lib.ms.us.

Published in: on January 26, 2013 at 4:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Book Talk on “Whispers from Columbus Past” by author Tom Mayfield

whispers from columbus past book coverGenealogist and author Thomas Locke Mayfield will give a book talk on his newest book “Whispers from Columbus Past: Stories from the Past that You Should Know” on Monday, January 28 at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library from 2:00-3:00pm.

“Whispers from Columbus Past” includes stories about local people and events such as the murder of Gene Erwin Tate in 1960, the Gilmer Hotel, the Stephen D. Lee High School football team winning the 1936 national championship, and the murder of John Allison Hardy in 1952.

Co-author and local historian Carolyn Burns Kaye will also speak about her contribution and research on Major Thomas Garton Blewett (1798-1871) of the Stephen D. Lee House and Museum.  Kaye wrote about Blewett’s life and impact on the city of Columbus in “Whispers from Columbus Past”.

Mayfield’s other books include “The Life and Times of Tom Locke,” “The Sykes Homes of Columbus and Aberdeen,” and “Voices from the Prairie: Stories of Life on the Prairie”.  Select chapters from all of Mayfield’s books have been published in The Packet newspaper.

The book talk will be held in the Meeting Room of the Chebie G. Bateman building of the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library.  Mayfield will also be available to sign copies of his various books. 

The event is free and open to the public.

Mayfield’s next book “The History of the Sykes of Columbus and Aberdeen” will be released in mid June.  Five years in the making, it will explore the history of the Sykes family and include photographs from both the Columbus and Aberdeen areas.

If you would like to order a copy of any of Mayfield’s books contact the Campbell Publishing Company at 336-703-9426 or email janiecmayfield@aol.com.

For more information about this event, contact Mona K. Vance at 662-329-5304 or at mvance@lowndes.lib.ms.us.

Published in: on January 23, 2013 at 4:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Gee’s Bend, Alabama Exhibit now on Display

Lucie Pettway weaving corn husks.

Lucie Pettway weaving corn husks.

The exhibit “Looking Back at Gee’s Bend: The Photographs of John Reese, 1980” is currently on display at the Chebie G. Bateman building of the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library.

On loan from the Birmingham Public Library, the exhibit explores Gee’s Bend, a unique African American community situated deep within a bend of the Alabama River in Wilcox County, Alabama. With the existence of only one road in or out of the area and limited transportation, life in Gee’s Bend remained much the same and relatively free of outside influences for decades.

North Carolinian Joseph Gee originally settled the area.  Gee and the planters who succeeded him brought slaves into the area to work their cotton fields. Following the Civil War and emancipation, many former slaves remained in Gee’s Bend (the Bend), choosing to work as tenant farmers.  During the Great Depression many white landowners were forced into bankruptcy and therefore the federal government purchased large tracts of their lands in the Bend.  This land was then divided into forty-acre units, with a house and a two-story barn built on each unit.  The government then sold these farms to African American residents at affordable prices.

In an effort to capture this distinctive community, the Birmingham Public

Barn built during the Farm Security Administration Project, 1937

Barn built during the Farm Security Administration Project, 1937

Library began documenting the area in 1978.  This endeavor resulted in the creation of 450 photographs taken by photographer John Resse from 1980-81 of the life and people of the Bend.  Reese captured portraits of residents, pictures of houses, barns, churches, baptisms, the school, landscapes, farmers, and quilters.  Select images from this collection are included in the “Looking Back at Gee’s Bend” exhibit.

The exhibit is on display now until Tuesday, February 26th of Black History Month.

For more information please contact Mona K. Vance at 662-329-5304 or by email at mvance@lowndes.lib.ms.us.

Published in: on January 21, 2013 at 4:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Billups-Garth Archives Hours

The Billups-Garth Archives hours for the next few days will be the following:

Saturday, January 19
Open 10:00am-4:00pm

Monday, January 21
Closed all day for Martin Luther King Holiday

Tuesday, January 22
Closed 9:00am-12:30pm

We apologize for any inconvenience.

Published in: on January 18, 2013 at 4:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Billups-Garth Archives Hours

The Billups-Garth Archives will be closed the following dates and times:

Monday, January 14, 2013
All day

Tuesday, January 15, 2013
9:00am-12:30pm

We apologize for any inconvenience.

Published in: on January 14, 2013 at 3:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Billups-Garth Archives closed Monday morning

The Billups-Garth Archives will be closed Monday, January 7, 2013 from 9:00am-1:00pm.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

Published in: on January 6, 2013 at 6:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Billups-Garth Archives Open

The Billups-Garth Archives will be open Saturday January 5, 2013 from 10:00am-4:00pm.

Published in: on January 4, 2013 at 6:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Kaye, noted architect/preservationist, dead at 72

The Commercial Dispatch
By: Carmen K. Sisson
January 3, 2013

Sam Kaye

Sam Kaye

Sam Kaye, noted as one of the state’s leading historic preservationists, died Tuesday, leaving a legacy that his friends and colleagues say will endure the test of time.  

Kaye, 72, an architect by profession, built his life around history, working tirelessly to preserve Mississippi’s historic buildings, saving them from demolition and restoring them to new viability while carefully maintaining their historic and architectural integrity.  

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History has called him “one of Mississippi’s finest preservation architects,” and the Mississippi Heritage Trust in May 2012 awarded him the Al and Libby Hollingsworth Award for Lifetime Achievement — the state’s highest award for outstanding service to historic preservation. 

At the time, former Gov. William Winter said he knew of no other architect who has done more to develop a public appreciation for preservation.  

Kaye’s position as an expert was so well-known that in November 1978, when Ken P’Pool was charged with opening a field office in Columbus for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, he immediately made an appointment to drive up from Jackson to meet Kaye.  

P’Pool, now director of the MDAH Historic Preservation Division, said Kaye’s knowledge of Columbus history was unparalleled. Along with being involved in the preservation and restoration of many downtown buildings, he also uncovered a few hidden jewels.  

Endlessly curious, Kaye began investigating the origins of Bridge Street, now known as Fourth Avenue South. People told him there had once been plans to build a bridge across the Tombigbee, but the plans had never materialized. Kaye proved everyone wrong, discovering that freed slave Horace King of Tuscaloosa had constructed a bridge that was later demolished by a flood.  

“Sam always had a very deep appreciation for history, particularly for Columbus history,” P’Pool said Wednesday. “He grew up in Columbus and was always fascinated by how all of the events had come together. He had an innate fascination with history and could see the really amazing stories that played out in Columbus.” 

Kaye was equally talented at mining the rich nuggets of history in other Mississippi towns, sometimes surprising even lifelong residents. As one of the founders of the Mississippi Main Street Association, and a board member with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, he served as the state’s architect and advisor for numerous preservation projects.  

No matter where you go in Mississippi, if you see a beautifully restored building, chances are Kaye had a hand in it, said longtime friend and Columbus historian Rufus Ward.  

Kaye’s depth of knowledge never ceased to amaze even those who knew him best. Ward said Kaye could look at a piece of moulding on a window and tell when the structure was built.  

He was meticulous with details, but friends say he had an easygoing nature as well. He was generous with both his time and his expertise, often taking younger preservationists under his wing, said Bob Wilson, executive director of Mississippi Main Street.  

“He was my mentor as well as a terrific friend,” Wilson said. “He was very well-respected nationwide. Sam has individually and professionally touched all 51 of our Main Street communities.” 

Jokingly, Wilson and his colleagues often called Kaye “the map man,” because no matter what city they were working in, Kaye knew the current maps, Civil War maps and other information they could use to market the unique characteristics of each town.  

“Sam just knew that backwards and forwards,” Wilson said. “He was just super. Anytime we went to a national conference, he was really a rock star in that group. Everybody knew Sam and admired him and was impressed with his knowledge and professionalism.” 

P’Pool said because historic preservation is such a specialized niche in architecture, it requires a combination of professional ability and personal interest. It is easier to design a building from the ground up than to try to preserve the integrity of a structure already in place.  

But he had an irrepressible mixture of love and enthusiasm for his work, and in Kaye’s 35 years on the review board for the National Register of Historic Places, P’Pool said he and others called on him frequently for advice. He never refused.  

“He did so much gratis work,” P’Pool said. “He was a very generous and affable person, always fun to be around.” 

Jan Miller, central district director for Mississippi Main Street, said she thought of Kaye like a father.  

“Sam will be greatly missed,” Miller said. “He was a fine person and a very good friend.” 

Memorial Funeral Home is handling the arrangements. Visitation will be held Saturday, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Columbus, from 9 a.m. until funeral services begin at 11 a.m. Burial will immediately follow at Friendship Cemetery.

Published in: on January 3, 2013 at 6:26 pm  Comments (1)  
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