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CHARM helps preserve historic farm documents
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The Consortium for the History of Agricultural and Rural Mississippi was formed in 2002 to ensure preservation and access to important documents related to the individuals and organizations that built the state's rural heritage.
CHARM’s mission is to promote understanding and appreciation of the role played by agriculture, forestry and rural life in Mississippi’s past. The organization is working to collect, preserve and provide access to important historical materials as a foundation for teaching, learning and research.
CHARM partners include the Mississippi State University Libraries, the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, the MSU Extension Service and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The CHARM collection is housed in MSU's Mitchell Memorial Library.
“Agriculture and forestry have played significant roles in the development and history of this state,” said Vance H. Watson, vice president for MSU’s Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine. “Exploring the past through documents like early plantation journals and vintage photographs can help students and others understand and appreciate the rural, agricultural roots of Mississippi and the role they played in defining our state and its people.”
Photographs, diaries, account ledgers and other materials provide insight into day-to-day rural life, including concerns about the weather, the economy and changes in agriculture.
Another important part of the collection is materials from the university archives, including photographs, reports and MSU Extension materials. Oral histories from individuals who have played leadership roles in Mississippi agriculture also are being collected.
“The project establishes a single location to preserve the materials,” said Frances N. Coleman, dean of libraries. “It makes them accessible in a setting where large collections of other, more general information about Mississippi and its past are already available for reference.”
To expand its accessibility, the consortium is digitizing materials in the collection and making them available on the World Wide Web at http://library.msstate.edu/charm.
The CHARM project began with a core collection of important documents and artifacts, but is always looking for material to add. Families and individuals with suitable material are encouraged to donate these so they can be preserved and accessed by scholars and the general public.
As a result of work on the CHARM project, the National Agriculture Library’s Agriculture Network Information Center Board has included MSU as a member of AgNIC and has designated the university as the coordinating institution for a broader initiative to create a site on agricultural history and rural life for the Southern region.
For additional information on CHARM, contact Coleman at (662) 325-7761.
Contact: Dr. Frances Coleman, (662) 325-7661