Ceramic by James “Son Ford” Thomas

Nan Prince, assistant director of collections, brings us another post in her ongoing series about interesting artifacts in the Museum Division collection.

Unfired clay head made by James "Son Ford" Thomas. Accession Number: 1984.46.6 (Museum Division collection)
Unfired clay head made by James “Son Ford” Thomas. Accession Number: 1984.46.6 (Museum Division collection)

This unfired clay head with a white cotton moustache, black cotton hair glued to the top, and corn kernel teeth, was made by James “Son Ford” Thomas, a prominent Delta blues musician who became critically acclaimed for his visual art, as well. Born in 1926 near Eden in Yazoo County, Mississippi, Thomas earned his nickname from the Ford tractors he would make out of clay as a child. Working with the very pliable clay found in the hills of Yazoo County, which he called “Gumbo clay,” Thomas made his first skull when he was young, scaring his grandfather with it when he displayed it in their home. The artist’s work has been shown in numerous art galleries and museums and was even on display in the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1981, at which time he visited the White House and met Nancy Reagan.

Unfired clay head made by James "Son Ford" Thomas. Accession Number: 1984.46.6 (Museum Division collection)
Unfired clay head made by James “Son Ford” Thomas. Accession Number: 1984.46.6 (Museum Division collection)
Digital Archives Government Records Paper Archives

Educable Children Records Now Online

This page shows 10 year old Elvis Presley. Series 21: Enumeration of Educable Children, Lee County, 1945, p 68 (MDAH)
Ten year old Elvis Presley is listed on this page of Series 21: Enumeration of Educable Children (Lee County, 1945, p 68, MDAH)

Genealogy researchers have another tool to locate ancestors in two recently digitized government records collections, Series 105, Educable Children Lists and Series 21, Enumeration of Educable Children. Educable children records have proven invaluable to researchers trying to locate elusive Mississippians, as some families missed by the state or federal census may be found in these records. They also include records from the 1950s which is useful to researchers because the most recent census available is the 1940 census.

The materials presented here include lists of educable (school age) children submitted by Mississippi counties to the state’s Secretary of State and Department of Education. The lists vary in content by year and may include such information as name, age, gender, race, election district or ward, name of parent or guardian, address, and reason for withdrawal from school. The records, which are not indexed, are grouped by county. Click here to learn more and browse the records.

Pictured above is the record of ten year old Elvis Presley in the Enumeration of Educable Children for Lee County in 1945. Elvis is listed with his father, V.E. (Vernon Elvis) Presley and was attending East Tupelo School.


Artifacts: WREC Radio Microphone

Nan Prince, Assistant Director of Collections in the MDAH Museum Division, wrote this post about interesting artifacts in the collection.

WREC Radio microphone. Accession Number: 1975.11.2 (Museum Division Collection)
WREC Radio microphone. Accession Number: 1975.11.2 (Museum Division Collection)

On September 22, 1922, KFNG Radio began broadcasting out of the home of S.D. Wooten in Coldwater, Mississipppi. Started by his son, Hoyt B. Wooten, using a handmade 10-watt transmitter, KFNG was the first commercial broadcasting station in Mississippi. In 1925, the Wooten family opened Wooten’s Radio Electric Company in the lobby of the newly constructed Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis, where they sold radio equipment during the week, and broadcast from Coldwater on the weekends. A year later they moved KFNG to the Memphis suburb of Whitehaven, Tennessee, and changed the call letters to WREC after the name of their store. WREC continued to grow and expand and became an important part of mid-south communications through radio and later television.

Artifacts from the Museum Division collection that are not on exhibit are available for viewing by appointment. Please contact Nan Prince, Assistant Director of Collections, by email to schedule an appointment.

Source: Sign-On: The First 50 Years of WREC Radio (Memphis, TN: WREC Radio, September 22, 1972).

Digital Archives Paper Archives Photographs

Winter Blog Roundup Part Two

Official MissPres 101 Places to See Before You Die Map
Official MissPres 101 Places to See Before You Die Map (Preservation in Mississippi blog)

Black History Month

The Columbus-Lowndes Public Library is featuring local African American history in Ferbruary on its “Local History Announcements” blog.

The National Archives has photographs related to the Tuskegee Airmen. Find out more in this blog post from NARAtions.

Read about the 1942 Negro League World Series and the match up of two great African American baseball players in this post from the National Museum of American History’s “O Say Can You See?” blog.

This post from the “Picture This” blog surveys civil rights era photographs in the Library of Congress collection.

The Smithsonian Collections Blog uses a photograph of composer Duke Ellington to discuss issues related archival practice and digitization.

Valentine’s Day

The National Museum of American History explores love stories in its collections in this post from the “O Say Can You See?” blog.

Explore historic Valentine’s Day cards on the “Picture This” blog of the Library of Congress.

Of Interest

Check out the “Official MissPres 101 Places to See Before You Die Map” on the Preservation in Mississippi blog.

What did Washington, D.C., look like in the 1860s? Find out in this post from the National Museum of American History’s “O Say Can You See?” blog.

Listen to audio clips from Monitor Records albums such as “Russian Cabaret” and “Vienna by Night” on the Smithsonian Collections Blog.

Artifacts Digital Archives Maps Photographs

Winter Blog Roundup

Blank 1940 United States Census form (Source: National Archives and Records Administration website)*

Genealogy Notes

Resources for getting a head start on your 1940 census research are available via the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library “Local History Announcements” blog. The 1940 census will be released on April 2, 2012 (the federal census remains closed for 72 years for privacy reasons).

Read some interesting facts about the 1940 census at NARAtions, the blog of the U.S. National Archives.

For researchers tracing families in North Carolina: the North Carolina State Archives recently digitized their WPA Cemetery Surveys. Read about it in this blog post and view the cemetery records here.

Martin Luther King Day

The Arts

The work of Mississippi artist Theora Hamblett is the subject of this blog post from the Mississippi Library Commission.

The Mississippi Museum of Art discusses its upcoming exhibition, Curious George Saves the Day: The Art of Margret and H. A. Rey, in this blog post.

Fans of the television series Downton Abbey will appreciate this exploration of that period’s popular music by the Library of Congress “In the Muse” blog.

Can a Stradivari violin be duplicated? Apparently so, using CT scans and advanced manufacturing equipment. Researchers used an instrument from the Library of Congress collection to make the replica.

Of Interest

This blog post describes an interesting function of the Library of Congress: selecting twenty-five films that merit permanent preservation for their “cultural, aesthetic, and historical value.” See this year’s list at

The United States Copyright Office is now blogging at They discuss issues surrounding the digitization of nearly seventy million pre-1978 copyright records.

The Library of Congress just digitized the 30,000th map for its online collection. Read more at

The National Archives wants you! …To help transcribe and tag documents in order to make them more accessible to the public. Check out the “Citizen Archivist” initiative at the NARAtions blog.

*Image from National Archives and Records Administration, “1940 Federal Population Census, Part 1: General Information, 1940 Census Forms,” (accessed February 17, 2012).