Perkins Smith named MSU’s new university archivist

Jessica Perkins Smith (Photo by Logan Kirkland)

Contact: James Carskadon

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Jessica Perkins Smith is now the university archivist at Mississippi State University Libraries.

Perkins Smith preserves and makes accessible archival material related to the land-grant university. She came to MSU in 2016 as a manuscripts archivist and began her new role this summer.

“My job is to preserve the history of the university and also provide access to it,” Perkins Smith said. “It’s not enough for things to just come here and sit. We want to do outreach in terms of exhibits and programming on campus. I see it as my role to preserve the archives and also to tell the story of the university at different points in time.”

Prior to joining MSU Libraries, Perkins Smith was a project archivist at the Amistad Research Center in New Orleans, where she processed African-American STEM collections. She earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Millsaps College and a master’s of library and information science from Louisiana State University. Smith’s research interests include African American history, civil rights in Mississippi, athletic history and digitization.

Perkins Smith grew up a Mississippi State fan as several family members attended the university. The university archives contain digital and print editions of the Reveille yearbook, where Perkins Smith found pictures of her grandfather.

“I love anything in our archives related to athletics,” Perkins Smith said. “We have some great old pennants, such as Mississippi A&M pennants form the 1920s. I love our photograph collection because it really tells the story of the university. Prior archivists have done a really good job of maintaining that and preserving those photos.”

Other materials in the university archives include collections of papers from retired professors, departmental materials, building history, Reflector student newspaper archives, presidential records, official campus publications and items donated by university alumni.

Perkins Smith said she will continue to provide instruction and outreach to departments on campus, so students, faculty and staff are aware of the resources available to them.

For more on the university archives, visit MSU Libraries is online at

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