A Mississippi State University exhibit is showcasing local history of the Great Depression with materials on display through Aug. 9.
"Census Year 1930," an exhibit now at the university's Mitchell Memorial Library, provides a historic snapshot through artifacts displayed on the second- and third- floor atriums, said special collections librarian Mattie L. Sink.
Drawn from National Archives records, the exhibit coincides with a recent library purchase made possible through the support of Starkville resident E.O.Templeton.
Census data, gathered every 10 years since 1790, remains closed for 72 years to protect the privacy of the participants, Sink said. Data from the 1930 census was released only this year.
"The 1930 census shows Mississippi in the depths of the Depression," she notes. "However, families managed to endure and sustain life, as shown by their answers to the census-takers' questions."
She said 1930 ushered in a decade of economic disruption and eventual improvement, natural disasters and escalating world tensions leading to World War II.
"To alleviate the general gloominess, it also was an age of glamour, entertainment and modernization," she said.
Reflecting the glamour of the age, the second-floor exhibit includes 1930s costumes from the Historic Costume and Textiles Collection housed in the university's School of Human Sciences. The third-floor exhibit features entries from the 1930 census, as well as photographs, letters, books, memorabilia and other materials from the library collection.
"Mississippi State's is the only state library so far to make public all 195 reels of the census data and Soundex--a system of indexing names in the late 19th and early 20th century censuses," she said.
In addition to Sink, exhibit materials were prepared by Lynne Mueller of Special Collections and by Wanda Cheek and Catherine Boyd of the School of Human Sciences.