The Queer Mississippi Histories Project consists of interviews with lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, and/or queer people who were born, raised, or spent significant time in Mississippi. The project began in the spring semester of 2018 in Dr. Jessica Wilkerson’s (history and southern studies) Seminar, “Oral History of Southern Social Movements,” Southern Studies 560. Graduate and undergraduate students in that class conducted interviews with people in Oxford and on the campus of the University of Mississippi, focusing largely on recent changes in the social climate for LGBTQ people and LGBTQ activism in and around Oxford.
The project then expanded when Wilkerson and Dr. Amy McDowell (sociology) applied for and received an Isom Fellowship for the summer of 2019 and summer 2020. They worked with graduate students Hooper Schultz and Maddie Shappley to add interviews with people connected to queer communities in Tupelo, Mississippi. Simultaneously, McDowell donated the record collection of DJ Charles “Prince” Smith, who had worked at several gay bars in and around Tupelo. Students in Wilkerson’s fall 2019 oral history seminar again collected interviews for the Queer Mississippi project, further adding to the collection. Most, but not all, interviews collected between 2018 and 2020 were with individuals residing in and around Oxford or Tupelo, Mississippi and reflect the experiences of LGBTQ individuals—young and old, from the state and transplants, working-class and middle-class. In 2020, McDowell became the project director and worked with graduate student Danielle Buckingham to expand the collection during a global pandemic. Between 2020 and 2021, Buckingham conducted interviews with LGBTQ Mississippians over zoom, and in the interim, started her own oral history project on Southern Black Queer Millennials, which will become part of the Queer Mississippi collection.
NAVIGATING THE ARCHIVE: With the exception of one folder in the archive that focuses on LGBTQ+ history at the University of Mississippi, the Queer Mississippi collection is listed in chronological order. To browse the collection, click on the folder year (e.g., 2018) to see a list of interviews and related materials collected within that time frame. Each interview folder contains an interview abstract and audio recording of the interview, among other items such as photographs and/or field notes. If you would like access to the written transcripts, we are happy to provide those in a timely manner. Please contact email@example.com with those requests.
This project is also affiliated with the Invisible Histories Project-Mississippi to document and preserve LGBTQ history in Mississippi.