The Mississippi Encyclopedia

Ted Ownby and Charles Reagan Wilson, Coeditors
Ann J. Abadie, Associate Editor

What is The Mississippi Encyclopedia?

The Mississippi Encyclopedia will be an interdisciplinary, comprehensive, one-volume reference book of approximately 1,600 pages, consisting of 2,000 articles averaging from 500 to 1,500 words detailing the people, places, and themes of the state's history, literature, art and architecture, music, politics, religion, folklife, and much more. The book will use an A to Z format and explore topics ranging from Walter Anderson to Theora Hamblett, from the Civil War to civil rights, from Theodore G. Bilbo to Medgar Evers, from juke joint jams to Metropolitan Opera debuts, from Archie Manning to Walter Payton, from sharecropping to catfish farming, from William Faulkner, Richard Wright and Eudora Welty to Barry Hannah, Willie Morris, and Margaret Walker Alexander, from the innovations of Peavey Electronics to the growing prominence of Viking Range, and from the disaster of Hurricane Katrina to the hard-won recoveries of its aftermath.

Who is it for?

Everyone--native and new Mississippians, readers and researchers young and old. The encyclopedia will serve both Mississippians and those outside the state so that all may have a clearer picture of the vitality and creativity in Mississippi. Current and future citizens will better understand the complex, unique characteristics of the state's culture, heritage, and history. The book will reach tens of thousands of readers, scholars, and students and will educate and enlighten them about Mississippi's contributions to the wider world.

Why do we need The Mississippi Encyclopedia?

Mississippi has a story that must be told by Mississippians, and The Mississippi Encyclopedia will do just that in a fascinating volume, full of compelling, reliable information. The encyclopedia will dramatize the interconnectedness of Mississippi's history and culture and show how blacks, whites, and diverse ethnic groups have played many roles in shaping one great story. The encyclopedia will reflect the diversity of the state's regions and experiences, honor its creativity, recognize its problems, and herald its achievements. More than 600 authorities on their subjects have created an invaluable resource for learning and passing on the state's narrative.

Who is writing The Mississippi Encyclopedia and who will publish it?

The book's principal editors are Ted Ownby and Charles Reagan Wilson with associate editor Ann J. Abadie, outstanding and well-published scholars at The Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. All three were involved in the highly successful Encyclopedia of Southern Culture (1989), a landmark volume. Authors include scholars from throughout the state, nation, and world.

The Mississippi Encyclopedia will be published by the University Press of Mississippi, a 501(c)(3) organization operating under the aegis of the Institutions of Higher Learning and supported by all eight state universities. The Press publishes books of the highest quality by scholars from around the world on national and international topics as well as books by Mississippians exploring the state and region's culture, arts, and history. The Press serves both scholars worldwide as well as a diverse community of general readers, especially readers in Mississippi.

When will the book be available?

Once a fundraising campaign to make possible the processes of copyediting, designing, indexing, and printing the book is complete, publication will take approximately 24 months. With funding support, the Press hopes to make the book available in 2011, in advance of the state's bicentennial.

Will there be an electronic version of The Mississippi Encyclopedia?

Part of the funds raised will be used to create a searchable, e-book version of the encyclopedia for use in libraries and classrooms. Making an electronic version available to students, scholars, and researchers is crucial, but it is also a very expensive process. How may I help make the book possible?

Your tax-deductible donation will make this book a reality. The Mississippi Encyclopedia project currently needs approximately $325,000 to fund the production of this large-scale, high-quality book. The encyclopedia will be a gift to Mississippians for generations to come, and your donation to this project will help preserve and make accessible the history and heritage of this unparalleled state.

Donations may be made to the University Press of Mississippi (Encyclopedia Fund), 3825 Ridgewood Road, Jackson MS 39211 or through the Web site at Please call Director Leila Salisbury at the Press (601-432- 6205) for more information.

How do I check the progress of The Mississippi Encyclopedia and the funding campaign?

Visit the encyclopedia's Facebook page or the encyclopedia's Web page at for editorial and fundraising updates and for events connected with The Mississippi Encyclopedia.

Will The Mississippi Encyclopedia have a digital component, an ebook?

Yes, and you may learn more about it from University Press of Mississippi's director Leila W. Salisbury in her letter about education and access.