Take a look at Natchez History Minute videos

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 7, 2016

By late Thursday night, my 15 minutes of fame was over, well at least 1 minute and 19 seconds of it.

Years ago, I heard an attorney who was receiving an award tell the crowd something pretty apt.

The man said he planned to keep his acceptance speech short because, as he said, “Attorneys are better seen than heard,” meaning no one really wanted to hear an attorney talk, but simply know his presence was there.

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The same can be said about newspaper reporters, editors and publishers. They’re often better read than heard.

Most newspaper folks work in printed media because we rarely possess radio voices or TV looks.

So last year when Jeff Mansell with the Natchez National Historical Park asked me if I would agree to read one of his Natchez History Minutes, I paused a moment, gulped a bit.

Me, on TV?

“This is not a good idea,” I thought. But knowing a bit about Jeff’s plans and his sincere, humble request for the involvement of people in the community, I agreed to help.

The process was painless.

Two nice young college students who were working as summer interns for the National Park Service came by the office and recorded me as I read a few paragraphs about an interesting man named Andrew Marschalk, who was dubbed the father of Mississippi journalism for his early efforts in printing and publishing newspapers in the Mississippi territory.

Marschalk was born Feb. 4, 1767.

That’s why Mansell decided to run the piece on Marschalk on Thursday, the anniversary of his birth.

Marschalk published the earliest known newspaper in Mississippi, publishing the Mississippi Herald on July 26, 1802.

The Natchez History Minute on Marschalk is just one of 366 such pieces Mansell and the National Park Service plan to produce and publish during Natchez’s tricentennial celebration, during the year 2016.

It’s a massively complicated undertaking. It sounds simple, just a minute of video each day.

But people who have ever produced significant volumes of video can tell you, it’s far more complicated.

Mansell deserves our community’s thanks for his heroic efforts in breaking down Natchez’s history into small, interesting nuggets.

From writing the scripts, which make all of us volunteers seem more intelligent than we are, to planning and producing the video, Mansell and the NPS is doing an amazing effort with the history minutes.

If you haven’t taken a look at these, I’d encourage you to do so. You can find them on The Democrat’s site each day, the National Park Service’s YouTube channel or its Facebook page.

Personally, I find it fun to start listening — without reading any of the accompanying information about the piece — and see if I can recognize the Natchez person who is narrating the video.

Some of Natchez’s history already revealed to me in the history minutes is amazing. I cannot wait to see what else unfolds as the year winds on.

Last week had another history moment for me that was a little more modern than Andrew Marschalk’s life.

Ronny Novak and his wife Dottie found an old, Natchez Democrat canvas carrier bag, probably from the 1950s or 1960s. He was kind enough to share the bag with us and we plan to keep it and display it in our office soon.

If you ever run across old Democrat photos or other memorabilia, please let me know, even if it’s only to let us see it and photograph the item.

The Democrat has lost much of its own historical artifacts through the years.

But like Natchez’s own history, we keep making it one day at a time.


Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.