Tricentennial plans ongoing; Natchez Minute telling 300 years of history

Published 12:13 am Monday, February 23, 2015

NATCHEZ — Organizers of the Natchez Tricentennial celebration are hoping residents will spend at least 366 minutes reflecting on the city’s past in 2016.

The Natchez Tricentennial Commission has partnered with the National Park Service to create the Natchez Minute, a daily recording detailing something from history that happened on that date in Natchez.

The recordings — along with a print version and an on-screen image to accompany them — will be made available on centrally located kiosks around the city, Tricentennial Commission Director Jennifer Ogden Combs said.

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“It is quite literally a look at something that happened on every single day of our history over the last 300 years,” Combs said.

“We will be inviting 366 people of different ages and different groups and inviting them to help us make those recordings — it is a way to involve the whole community.”

Acting Chief of Interpretation and Resource Management at Natchez National Historical Park Jeff Mansell is heading up the research for the Natchez Minute project, and said the effort is “a Hurculean task.”

Mansell said he and several members of the community are working to identify events for every date of the year. Some months are full, he said, while August, December and January still have some holes in them.

“We hope to start writing the actual minutes and recording them sometime this summer, but right now we are just trying to nail down an event for every day of the year,” he said.

“We have over 280 dates where there is something in there. That doesn’t mean we are going to use those events but it does mean we have something. The more research we do, the more probability that we will find something that may be more substantive than what we have written down.

“We are going to take what we feel is the most important event of that day to report.”

Some events are obviously of more historical weight than others, Mansell said, but others will require a look at the broader project.

“If there are a couple of events that happened on the same date, and one may be tied to the Civil War and we have enough about the Civil War, we may choose something to better round out the content if it has something to do with the late 19th century or the coming of the boll weevil,” he said. “It will be looking at the whole year and trying to do a balance of representation of 300 years of Natchez history.”

Mansell said once the recording starts this summer, the more people with connections to 20th century events to record a history minute, the better.

“We are trying to make this as all encompassing as possible,” he said “For example, if on a given date the various schools won state championships in different sports, we would love to have someone who was on that team to record that minute — anything that happened in the 20th century, things that were more current, we welcome all suggestions.”

Mansell said he has also received and welcomes suggestions from the community for different events to include on different dates.

Mansell can be reached at 601-445-5347.