“Tales from the Crypt” students begin research

Sloan Sparks performing in Friendship Cemetery in 2009

The Mississippi School for Math and Science students have once again begun researching for the award-winning program “Tales from the Crypt”. 

Started in 1991 by Carl Butler, high school juniors are assigned the task of researching individuals buried in the Columbus graveyard, Friendship Cemetery.  With only a list of names, the students take full advantage of the primary and secondary sources available at The Local History Department at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library as well as the Lowndes County Court House and any online databases. 

The students examine records such as marriage records, local court records (probate, general docket, and circuit), census records, newspapers, city minute books, family histories, city directories, and many more.  They develop an understanding of how records relate to each other and how they have evolved over time. 

After conducting four months of research, the students compile their findings into roughly a 10-20 page paper on the genealogy and life of Columbus citizens from long-ago.  During this process, they learn how to cite sources, how to decipher between primary and secondary sources, and how history is determined by those who leave written records.

The project does not end with the research paper, but rather moves into the second phase where twelve students are chosen to create a vignette on their researched individual.  They perform the vignettes in Friendship Cemetery for multiple tours held during the annual Columbus Pilgrimage in March and April.  The tours are a major highlight of the Pilgrimage celebration with roughly 2,000 people attending an average of five performances per year. 

Last week, Archivist Mona Vance conducted tours of the Local History Department for this year’s 55 students and looks forward to another great year.  Vance said, “The students are eager to see what they can find here in the archives. Each year they are able to uncover more information that will be helpful for other researchers in the future.”

The “Tales from the Crypt” program is celebrating its 22nd year and is currently directed by MSMS history teacher Charles Yarborough.

For more information on the upcoming Spring Pilgrimage 2012 visit the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau at http://www.columbus-ms.info/.

Published in: on August 22, 2011 at 3:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

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