Barnett will be missed in community

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, June 25, 2014

With the exception, perhaps of physicians and clergy, most of us work our entire lives in jobs that perhaps bring home a paycheck and maybe make a small difference in someone’s life now and again.

But occasionally, we stumble across someone who is so dedicated and so wrapped up in his work that he becomes synonymous with it. Jim Barnett is one of those rare few.

When Barnett retires next week, he will have spent more than three decades working for the Mississippi Department of Archives, serving as both the director of the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians and the head of MDAH’s historic property division.

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This extremely intelligent, dedicated man has literally and figuratively written the book on the Natchez Indians and, in doing so, helped generations of Natchez area residents and visitors to Natchez learn about a people who helped shape early Mississippi history.

The best part is Barnett’s knack for explaining history in non-scholarly, layman’s terms. That is not, however, to take anything away from the man’s knowledge. He’s certainly a scholar, but one who possesses the ability to communicate his knowledge to a myriad of audiences.

Barnett will be greatly missed in his official role, but he’s already begun volunteering to use his know-how to help others. His latest project is to create a map of the Watkins Street Cemetery, free of charge.

Rarely does a man’s work make such a profound impact upon a community’s knowledge and appreciation of its own history. We pause today to say “thank you” to Barnett for his decades of dedication to history and to Natchez.