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University Libraries Completes NHPRC Grant Project to Preserve Records Documenting History of South Mississippi's Timber Industry

A National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) Detailed Processing Project Grant of $113,198 to the University of Southern Mississippi in 2011-2013 funded archival processing activities for materials highlighting the timber industry of South Mississippi. Three large collections are now available for researchers: “Tung Oil Research and Development,” “Thigpen (S. G., Sr.) Papers” and “Tatum Family Business Records” (totaling approximately 515 cubic feet of materials).

The Tatum Family Business Records include the holdings of the Tatum family, prominent land holders, business and community leaders of the Forrest County, Mississippi area. Beginning in 1893 with the first sawmill, the Tatum Lumber Company came to employ hundreds of local residents and spanned approximately 63,000 acres of timber land and railways. W. S. F. Tatum, the patriarch of the family, led Hattiesburg as mayor from 1922-1924 and 1928-1936. During his terms as mayor roads were paved; extensive additions were made to the municipal water and sewer system; a public library, a municipal airport and the Saenger Theater were built; and the movement was started to bring natural gas to Hattiesburg. During the 1960s, land in Lamar County owned by the family and known as the Tatum Salt Dome was used by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission to conduct underground nuclear detonations known as “Project Dribble.” The scope of the Tatum Family Business Records includes a view of Forrest and Lamar County, Mississippi, areas as the land turned from a timber industry waypoint into a vital, industrial city. The collection is comprised of approximately 443 cu. feet of materials from 1881-1991. A complete 494-page finding aid (and related catalog record) is online, along with 196 selected digital images.

S. G. Thigpen, Sr., of Picayune, Mississippi, was an area entrepreneur, historian, and writer who operated from his hardware store from 1919 until his death in 1981. The collection contains financial records, personal papers, essays, photographs, scrapbooks, sound recordings and newspaper articles of Thigpen’s life and the Pearl River County, Mississippi, area. The collection is comprised of approximately 38 cubic feet of materials from 1899-1996. A complete 75-page finding aid (and related catalog record) is online, along with 255 selected digital images.

Tung Oil Research and Development
was an effort of many organizations utilizing Mississippi and Argentinian tung oil crops in a variety of methods, most notably in paints and varnishes, from the 1930s to the 1970s. The collection contains a variety of materials from laboratory notes, business records, photographs, and various correspondences from around southern Mississippi. The collection is comprised of approximately 34 cubic feet of materials from 1930-1974. A complete 137-page finding aid (and related catalog record) is online, anlong with 23 selected digital images.

For more information, visit the McCain Library & Archives at The University of Southern Mississippi or contact Steve Haller, curator of historical manuscripts and archives, at 601.266.4345 or Stephen.Haller@usm.edu.
 
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