Natchez prominent in ‘Mississippi Encyclopedia’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Natchez area has more entries in the newly published 1,451 page Mississippi Encyclopedia than any other part of the state and you are invited to a special Mississippi Bicentennial event highlighting the many entries focused on Southwest Mississippi. Nearly 14 years in the making, this impressive monumental volume, newly published by the University Press of Mississippi, has more than 135 diverse references to the Natchez area, ranging from people to places to events.

On Thursday, Nov. 2, the encyclopedia will have its Natchez debut at the Carolyn Vance Smith Natchez Literary Research Center.  The center, housed in the Willie Mae Dunn Library at Copiah-Lincoln Community College, is home to a special collection of Natchez-related books and other materials.

The encyclopedia includes more than 16,000 entries by over 700 scholars, with information for anyone and everyone who wants to know more about Mississippi.  According to co-editor Ted Ownby of The University of Mississippi, “From scholar to journalist to traveler to teacher or to a kid doing a school project, everyone should find ways to use the book.  By holding it in their hands, they should find all sorts of things they hadn’t thought to look up.”

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“We think it’s revealing that the work starts with Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and ends with Zig Ziglar, and both of those entries seem likely to surprise a lot of readers,” Ownby said.

On Nov. 2, book sales and signings by the encyclopedia’s co-editors, Ownby and Charles Reagan Wilson, also of Ole Miss, will kick off the event at 5 p.m.  At 5:30 p.m., Ownby and Wilson will speak about their work on the nearly 9-pound volume and then happily take questions from the audience.

In addition to the encyclopedia presentation, the Carolyn Vance Smith Natchez Literary Research Center will celebrate a special dedication honoring Mrs. Carolyn Vance Smith for her tremendous contributions of time, wisdom, and resources to the center.  Mrs. Smith serves as a special advisor to the center.

Copies of The Mississippi Encyclopedia are $70 and will be available for purchase during the event. Pre-orders are also available. Proceeds from the sale benefit the Carolyn Vance Smith Natchez Literary Research Center and its efforts to preserve and collect all things related to Natchez’s rich literary history.  The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

If you would like more information or wish to preorder a copy of this amazing encyclopedia, please contact Beth Richard at 601.446.1107 or email
Beth Richard is the library director for the Copiah-Lincoln Community College Natchez campus.