Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in History


Arch Dalrymple III Department of History

First Advisor

Ted Ownby

Second Advisor

Kirk Johnson

Third Advisor

Charles K. Ross

Relational Format



Despite the vast amount of research covering incarcerated men in the southern prison system from the beginning of the nineteenth century to present, the incarceration of women has gone almost unexamined. As the forgotten offender, historians, criminologist, and others interested in Mississippi carceral studies have failed to include a historical study that focuses on the incarceration of African American women in Mississippi. To date, there are two major historical works that explore Mississippi penology and its notorious Parchman Penitentiary. David Oshinsky’s, Worse Than Slavery and William Banks Taylor’s, Down on Parchman Farm, are the two pivotal historical works that examine the history of Parchman penitentiary, however, these works mainly focus on telling the story of incarcerated men. While sparingly including imprisoned women in their analysis, what goes overlooked are the women that spent years behind the walls of Parchman enduring the same hardships and exploitations as incarcerated men. To fully understand the penal system and the history of crime and punishment in Mississippi, it is imperative that the narrative is inclusive of all those individuals, especially African American women, who endured the states’ most notorious prisons, Parchman penitentiary.

Included in

History Commons



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