Natchez Tricentennial History Minute videos seen in 43 countries

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Minutemen were known to be ready at a moment’s notice, ready to spring into action in case of a threat.

Natchez National Park Service Historian Jeff Mansell and his intern Mike Perkins have dubbed themselves the modern day Minutemen, but in a different sense.

The two men are behind the daily “Natchez History Minute” videos posted on Facebook and YouTube at 6 a.m. each day. The videos have garnered more than 600,000 views in 43 countries since the program kicked off on Jan. 1.

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“For me, at my age, sitting here and writing a script at this computer, and giving it to someone to read, then we record it and post it, and knowing it’s being viewed around the world, I’m taken aback by it,” Mansel said.

Every day the Natchez National Park Service Facebook page gets new “likes” and views, sometimes in bulk.

“We get lots of people who share the videos and people go back and look at others that we’ve done,” Mansell said. “There was one woman who ‘liked’ about 30 of the videos, and you could tell she was watching them all because of how spaced out the notifications were for each ‘like.’”

“That was fun, because, you know, she was binge watching the ‘Natchez History Minute,’” Mansell said.

Mansell and Perkins are working to keep the “Natchez History Minute” on track now that Natchez is closer than ever to its 300th birthday.

As of today, the duo, with help from Natchezians, have produced 223 history minutes, documenting everything from local athletes to the Civil Rights Movement.

“We have tried to come up with something that happened every day,” Mansell said. “Some days, nothing happened (in Natchez’s history), but other days, everything happened.”

Mansell said he and Perkins spend an estimated total of about four hours on each “Minute” interviewing, recording, researching, writing scripts, editing and posting. They have videos completed through the middle of August and then intermittently through the end of the year, with hopes to have the project completed by November.

With 143 minutes left to be produced and released, Mansell and Perkins said they are working hard to get as much done this week as they possibly can, as Perkins will be returning home to Pasadena, Calif., at the end of the week.

Perkins, a graduate of Jackson State University, helped kick off the project last summer, gathering audio from locals as well as ideas for other minutes. He said he could not get enough of Natchez or the project, so he came back to help this summer before starting a job as a history teacher.

“Mr. Mansell gave me the idea of having my students do Pasadena Minutes,” Perkins said. “It’s a project that I want to continue to roll with.”

As he’s getting ready to pack up and head home, Perkins said his favorite part of his summers in Natchez was getting a personal view of history.

“My favorite part was getting to meet people who are their family members, and being accepted into their homes and getting more than you see on the Internet or what you can find on Google or Bing,” Perkins said. “You get to experience that oral tradition.”