Skip to Content

Found 15,232 Resources


National Museum of American History

Nauvoo (Mississippi)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Jackson, Mississippi

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Mississippi Rifle

National Museum of American History
Physical Description

Model 1841 Mississippi rifle, .54 caliber.

General History

This gun derives its nickname of the "Mississippi rifle" from the Mississippi Riflemen led by Jefferson Davis. The Mexican-American War began in 1846. Davis looked favorably upon the war as the United States stood to acquire considerable land south of the Missouri Compromise line. It was an area in which Southern institutions could expand. Davis resigned his House seat in June and rejoined the army. On July 18, 1846 he was elected colonel of the First Regiment of Mississippi Riflemen. In September of the same year, he participated in the successful siege of Monterrey, Mexico. In June, the army offered him an appointment as brigadier general of a militia unit, but he declined. In traditional Southern style, he believed the appointment was unconstitutional. The United States Constitution, he argued, gives the power of appointing militia officers to the states, not to the federal government.

Biloxi, Mississippi

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Mississippi John Hurt

National Portrait Gallery
Charmian Reading's portrait of "Mississippi" John Hurt pictures the celebrated blues guitarist performing in 1966, in conjunction with the March Against Fear, a 220-mile march from Memphis to Jackson, Mississippi, to champion civil rights reform. Hurt spent most of his life in a small town not far from the marchers' route, and when he learned of their presence he came out to lend his support. Prior to appearing at the Newport Folk Festival in 1963, an occasion that led to widespread acclaim, Hurt lived in relative obscurity in Mississippi, playing occasionally for local audiences. Although he had recorded a selection of songs back in 1928, he worked principally as a farmer and a laborer, supporting his wife and fourteen children. His "rediscovery" in the 1960s led to new opportunities to record and to perform, and prompted a nationwide blues revival.

"Mississippi Rag"

National Museum of American History
This sheet music is for the composition “Mississippi Rag,” by W. H. Krell. It was published by The S. Brainard's Sons Co. of New York, New York and Chicago, Illinois in 1898.

Mississippi Joining

National Air and Space Museum
Watercolor and ink painting on paper titled 'Mississippi joining us,' dated Oct. 20. Part of a Theodore Hancock sketchbook.

The spring of 1962 was a busy time for the men and women of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. On February 20, John H. Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. For the first time since the launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957, the U.S. was positioned to match and exceed Soviet achievements in space. NASA was an agency with a mission -- to meet President John F. Kennedy's challenge of sending human beings to the moon and returning them safely to earth by the end of the decade. Within a year, three more Mercury astronauts would fly into orbit. Plans were falling into place for a follow-on series of two-man Gemini missions that would set the stage for the Apollo voyages to the moon.

In early March 1962, artist Bruce Stevenson brought his large portrait of Alan Shepard, the first American to fly in space, to NASA headquarters.(1) James E. Webb, the administrator of NASA, assumed that the artist was interested in painting a similar portrait of all seven of the Mercury astronauts. Instead, Webb voiced his preference for a group portrait that would emphasize "…the team effort and the togetherness that has characterized the first group of astronauts to be trained by this nation." More important, the episode convinced the administrator that "…we should consider in a deliberate way just what NASA should do in the field of fine arts to commemorate the …historic events" of the American space program.(2)

In addition to portraits, Webb wanted to encourage artists to capture the excitement and deeper meaning of space flight. He imagined "a nighttime scene showing the great amount of activity involved in the preparation of and countdown for launching," as well as paintings that portrayed activities in space. "The important thing," he concluded, "is to develop a policy on how we intend to treat this matter now and in the next several years and then to get down to the specifics of how we intend to implement this policy…." The first step, he suggested, was to consult with experts in the field, including the director of the National Gallery of Art, and the members of the Fine Arts Commission, the arbiters of architectural and artistic taste who passed judgment on the appearance of official buildings and monuments in the nation's capital.

Webb's memo of March 16, 1962 was the birth certificate of the NASA art program. Shelby Thompson, the director of the agency's Office of Educational Programs and Services, assigned James Dean, a young artist working as a special assistant in his office, to the project. On June 19, 1962 Thompson met with the Fine Arts Commission, requesting advice as to how "…NASA should develop a basis for use of paintings and sculptures to depict significant historical events and other activities in our program."(3)

David E. Finley, the chairman and former director of the National Gallery of Art, applauded the idea, and suggested that the agency should study the experience of the U.S. Air Force, which had amassed some 800 paintings since establishing an art program in 1954. He also introduced Thompson to Hereward Lester Cooke, curator of paintings at the National Gallery of Art.

An imposing bear of a man standing over six feet tall, Lester Cooke was a graduate of Yale and Oxford, with a Princeton PhD. The son of a physics professor and a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Forces, he was both fascinated by science and felt a personal connection to flight. On a professional level, Cooke had directed American participation in international art competitions and produced articles and illustrations for the National Geographic Magazine. He jumped at the chance to advise NASA on its art program.

While initially cautious with regard to the time the project might require of one of his chief curators, John Walker, director of the National Gallery, quickly became one of the most vocal supporters of the NASA art initiative. Certain that "the present space exploration effort by the United States will probably rank among the more important events in the history of mankind," Walker believed that "every possible method of documentation …be used." Artists should be expected "…not only to record the physical appearance of the strange new world which space technology is creating, but to edit, select and probe for the inner meaning and emotional impact of events which may change the destiny of our race." He urged quick action so that "the full flavor of the achievement …not be lost," and hoped that "the past held captive" in any paintings resulting from the effort "will prove to future generations that America produced not only scientists and engineers capable of shaping the destiny of our age, but also artists worthy to keep them company."(4)

Gordon Cooper, the last Mercury astronaut to fly, was scheduled to ride an Atlas rocket into orbit on May 15, 1963. That event would provide the ideal occasion for a test run of the plan Cooke and Dean evolved to launch the art program. In mid-February, Cooke provided Thompson with a list of the artists who should be invited to travel to Cape Canaveral to record their impressions of the event. Andrew Wyeth, whom the curator identified as "the top artist in the U.S. today," headed the list. When the time came, however, Andrew Wyeth did not go to the Cape for the Cooper launch, but his son Jamie would participate in the program during the Gemini and Apollo years.

The list of invited artists also included Peter Hurd, Andrew Wyeth's brother-in-law, who had served as a wartime artist with the Army Air Force; George Weymouth, whom Wyeth regarded as "the best of his pupils"; and John McCoy, another Wyeth associate. Cooke regarded the next man on the list, Robert McCall, who had been running the Air Force art program, as "America's top aero-space illustrator. Paul Calle and Robert Shore had both painted for the Air Force program. Mitchell Jamieson, who had run a unit of the Navy art program during WW II, rounded out the program. Alfred Blaustein was the only artist to turn down the invitation.

The procedures that would remain in place for more than a decade were given a trial run in the spring of 1963. The artists received an $800 commission, which had to cover any expenses incurred while visiting a NASA facility where they could paint whatever interested them. In return, they would present their finished pieces, and all of their sketches, to the space agency. The experiment was a success, and what might have been a one-time effort to dispatch artists to witness and record the Gordon Cooper flight provided the basis for an on-going, if small-scale, program. By the end of 1970, Jim Dean and Lester Cooke had dispatched 38 artists to Mercury, Gemini and Apollo launches and to other NASA facilities.

The art program became everything that Jim Webb had hoped it would be. NASA artists produced stunning works of art that documented the agency's step-by-step progress on the way to the moon. The early fruits of the program were presented in a lavishly illustrated book, Eyewitness to Space (New York: Abrams, 1971). Works from the collection illustrated NASA publications and were the basis for educational film strips aimed at school children. In 1965 and again in 1969 the National Gallery of Art mounted two major exhibitions of work from the NASA collection. The USIA sent a selection of NASA paintings overseas, while the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service created two exhibitions of NASA art that toured the nation.

"Since we …began," Dean noted in a reflection on the tenth anniversary of the program, the art initiative had resulted in a long string of positive "press interviews and reports, congressional inquiries, columns in the Congressional Record, [and] White House reports." The NASA effort, he continued, had directly inspired other government art programs. "The Department of the Interior (at least two programs), the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Army and even the Veterans Administration have, or are starting, art programs." While he could not take all of the credit, Dean insisted that "our success has encouraged other agencies to get involved and they have succeeded, too."(5)

For all of that, he noted, it was still necessary to "defend" the role of art in the space agency. Dean, with the assistance of Lester Cooke, had been a one-man show, handling the complex logistics of the program, receiving and cataloguing works of art, hanging them himself in museums or on office walls, and struggling to find adequate storage space. In January 1976, a NASA supervisor went so far as to comment that: "Mr. Dean is far too valuable in other areas to spend his time on the relatively menial …jobs he is often burdened with in connection with the art program."(6) Dean placed a much higher value on the art collection, and immediately recommended that NASA officials either devote additional resources to the program, or get out of the art business and turn the existing collection over the National Air and Space Museum, "where it can be properly cared for."(7)

In January 1974 a new building for the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) was taking shape right across the street from NASA headquarters. Discussions regarding areas of cooperation were already underway between NASA officials and museum director Michael Collins, who had flown to the moon as a member of the Apollo 11 crew. Before the end of the year, the space agency had transferred its art collection to the NASM. Mike Collins succeeded in luring Jim Dean to the museum, as well.

The museum already maintained a small art collection, including portraits of aerospace heroes, an assortment of 18th and 19th century prints illustrating the early history of the balloon, an eclectic assortment of works portraying aspects of the history of aviation and a few recent prizes, including several Norman Rockwell paintings of NASA activity. With the acquisition of the NASA art, the museum was in possession of one of the world's great collections of art exploring aerospace themes. Jim Dean would continue to build the NASM collection as the museum's first curator of art. Following his retirement in 1980, other curators would follow in his footsteps, continuing to strengthen the role of art at the NASM. Over three decades after its arrival, however, the NASA art accession of 2,091 works still constitutes almost half of the NASM art collection.

(1) Stevenson's portrait is now in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum (1981-627)

(2) James E. Webb to Hiden Cox, March 16, 1962, memorandum in the NASA art historical collection, Aeronautics Division, National air and Space Museum. Webb's preference for a group portrait of the astronauts was apparently not heeded. In the end, Stevenson painted an individual portrait of John Glenn, which is also in the NASM collection (1963-398).

(3) Shelby Thompson, memorandum for the record, July 6, 1962, NASA art historical collection, NASA, Aeronautics Division.

(4) John Walker draft of a talk, March 5, 1965, copy in NASA Art historical collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(5) James Dean, memorandum for the record, August 6, 1973, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(6) Director of Planning and Media Development to Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(7) James Dean to the Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, copy in NASA Art history Collection, Aeronautics Division, NASM.

Tom D. Crouch

Senior Curator, Aeronautics

National Air and Space Museum

Smithsonian Institution

July 26, 2007

Mississippi Bluffs (no. 161)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Trans-Mississippi Exposition, Smithsonian Exhibit

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Original negative number is 12870, but that negative has been lost. For more information see: All the World's A Fair by Robert Rydell. There are several other images of this exhibit in this folder.

At the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition in Omaha, a close up view of a case containing minerals and shells, part of the Smithsonian exhibit. The Smithsonian coordinated all of the U.S. Government exhibits and prepared a display on its activities and collections for the exposition.

Trans-Mississippi Expo, Smithsonian Exhibit

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
For more information see: All the World's A Fair by Robert Rydell. There are several other images of this exhibit in this folder.

A view of one of the Smithsonian exhibits at the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition, Omaha. The Smithsonian coordinated all of the U.S. Government exhibits and prepared a display on its activities and collections for the exposition.

Trans-Mississippi Expo, Grand Court

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
For more information see: All the World's A Fair by Robert Rydell.

At the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition, Omaha, Nebraska, visitors admire the view across the reflecting pool of the Grand Court. The Smithsonian coordinated all of the U.S. Government exhibits and prepared a display on its activities and collections for the exposition.

Dubuque's Grave, Upper Mississippi

Smithsonian American Art Museum

34c Mississippi single

National Postal Museum

13c Mississippi single

National Postal Museum

20c Mississippi single

National Postal Museum

20c Mississippi single

National Postal Museum

Tallahatchie County, Mississippi

Smithsonian American Art Museum

37c Mississippi single

National Postal Museum

serpentine die cut 10 3/4

Mississippi State University

National Museum of American History

Mississippi - Cultural Destinations

Smithsonian Magazine

Ethel Wright Mohamed Stitchery Museum
Ethel Wright Mohamed is often referred to as the "Grandma Moses of Stitchery". View over 100 stitchery memory pictures representive of Mississippi Delta family life at this Belzoni museum. Many of her other pieces are on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institute.

Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art
Although rendered homeless by Hurricane Katrina, this Biloxi attraction found a temporary home nearby, and the exhibits are intact. Ceramic masterpieces on display include those by the "Mad Potter of Biloxi."

Doll Collection at Blue Mountain College
Sure to please doll lovers of all ages, the college's Guyton Library offers an impressive collection of antique dolls dating from 1875.

Multicultural Center & Museum (Canton)
This interactive museum features multi-media exhibits on such topics as slavery, civil rights, early African American businesses, education, family and music. Among the highlights is an exhibit about African American nun Thea Bowman.

Mitchell Farms
Explore a Mississippi farm as it was in the early 1900s. This working farm in Collins features a restored log house, smoke house, wood shed, brick outhouse and other farm buildings. You can also purchase in-season fruit, vegetables, watermelons, green and dried peanuts, as well as wood carvings by artist Nelda Mitchell. In September, check out the pumpkin patch and corn maze.

Freedom Summer Trail
The Freedom Summer Trail is a driving tour of 15 Hattiesburg sites significant to the 1964 Freedom Summer, a project to register black Mississippi voters, and the civil rights movement. Also in Hattiesburg is the African American Military History Museum, which displays hundreds of artifacts, photos and memorabilia.

Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience
Since 1986, the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience in Utica has preserved and documented the long and rich tradition of Jewish life in the South.

Camp Van Dorn World War II Museum
More than 40,000 troops trained for World War II action at the very primitive camp near Centreville. This unique museum tells their story.

Lynn Meadows Discovery Center
Plan to spend the day because your family will not want to leave this hands-on children's museum in Gulfport.

International Museum of Muslim Cultures
America's first and only Islamic History Museum is currently featuring its inaugural exhibit, "Islamic Moorish Spain: It's Legacy to Europe and the West." This exhibit explores the Golden Age of Muslim rule in Spain and its influence on Europe as the West. Jackson

Eudora Welty House
The Eudora Welty House is a literary museum located in the historic Belhaven neighborhood of Jackson. The garden at the house is beautifully reconstructed to the 1925-1945 period when the internationally acclaimed author worked at her mother's side planting, watering, and weeding.

Harrison House
Situated on property owned by African-Americans since the turn of the 20th century in Fayette, this home is a virtual time capsule with displays of memorabilia, books, contracts, deeds and pictures.

Landrum's Country Homestead and Village
This unique village is a re-creation of a late 1800s settlement. The Laurel museum comes to life with over 50 buildings and displays, nestled in a beautifully landscaped setting covering over 10 acres of lush pecan trees, streams and southern greenery.

Blues and Roots Music Sites:

Mississippi John Hurt Home
Visit the Carrollton home of blues legend Mississippi John Hurt. A two-hour tour includes his home, church, gravesite and the Old Community Store where Hurt played, as well as a museum dedicated to Hurt and the blues.

Rock 'n Roll & Blues Heritage Musuem
This Clarksdale museum is a nirvana for lovers of American roots music and its progeny. Check out original 78 RPMs, juke boxes, antique gramophones, radios, scores of concert and movie posters.

Delta Blues Museum
Blues enthusiasts flock to this Clarksdale institution, packed with artifacts and memorabilia. Don't miss the remains of the cabin where Muddy Waters lived while a sharecropper and tractor driver.

Robert Johnson Heritage & Blues Museum
Located in the historic district of Crystal Springs, this museum is a tribute to the "King of the Delta Blues Singers" and houses a collection of Robert Johnson murals. Guitars, donated by musicians, are also on display.

Elvis Presley Birthplace & Museum
The Tupelo birthplace of the "King of Rock and Roll" includes the modest home Elvis' father built, a statue of Elvis with his first guitar, memorial chapel, park, story wall, museum and gift shop.

Jimmie Rodgers Museum
The "Father of Country Music" is immortalized in this collection of memorabilia located in his hometown of Meridian.

Howlin' Wolf Museum
Explore a Blues museum featuring the history and artifacts of Howlin' Wolf and other bluesmen such as Big Joe Williams and Bukka White. The museum is located in West Point, Howlin' Wolf's hometown.

Native American Heritage Sites:

American-Indian Artifacts Museum
Although open by appointment only, this free museum in Columbus is worth the trip. It holds native artifacts dating back thousands of years.

Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians Reservation
Headquarters of Choctaw Tribal Council, also located on the reservation are the Choctaw Indian Museum, crafts store, and the Pearl River Resort, consisting of two casinos, two championship golf courses and a water park.

Emerald Mound
The second largest Indian ceremonial mound in the nation, built around 1400 A.D. by ancestors of the Natchez Indians, covers nearly eight acres near Natchez, Miss. A trail leads to the top where visitors can view a primary and secondary mound.

Grand Village of the Natchez Indians
This National Historic Landmark in Natchez was the location of the ceremonial mound center for the Natchez tribe from 1200 until 1730 and today includes a museum, educational programs, reconstructed mounds and a dwelling. Downtown Natchez is the oldest permanent settlement on the Mississippi River.

Civil War Sites:

Lee Home Museum
Built by Major Thomas Blewett in the late 1840s, this Columbus home was the former residence of Confederate Gen Stephen D. Lee and now houses Civil War artifacts.

Civil War Interpretive Center (Corinth)
This impressive interpretation center explains military and civilian experiences during the Civil War. Also includes exhibits relevant to African-American heritage. Corinth

Overlooking the Mississippi River, this Federal style mansion in Natchez was named for the French fort built nearby in 1716. Rosalie served as Union headquarters during the Civil War occupation.

National Military Park (Vicksburg)
Established in 1899, this beautiful 1,800-acre park's marble and granite monuments, strategic markers and cannon displays commemorate the 47-day Civil War siege and defense of Vicksburg. The Vicksburg National Cemetery is also located here.

"On the Mississippi"

National Museum of American History

This sheet music is for the song “On the Mississippi,” with words by Ballard MacDonald and music by Carroll and Fields. It was published by Shapiro Music Publishing Co. in New York, New York in 1912. The cover features a steamboat in the background and a crowd of people in foreground with a banjo player. There is an inset image of actor Harry Cooper. The sheet music indicates:

Introduced by
Harry Cooper

Mississippi State Militia

National Museum of American History
1-24 of 15,232 Resources