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College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

UM History Professor Wins Humanities Scholar Award

The Mississippi Humanities Council recognized history professor Elizabeth Anne Payne with its 2012 Public Humanities Award for her outstanding contributions to the study and understanding of the humanities.

Check out the new website for Dr. Elizabeth Payne’s North Mississippi Women’s Project:
Payne and five of her doctoral students have attracted national attention with their groundbreaking research project chronicling the oral histories of older women in North Mississippi.
The focus of Makin’ Do is the women who came of age during the World War II era. The subjects recount their experiences with the sharecropping system, race relations, and share how the Great Depression and industrialization affected their lives. They come from all economic backgrounds and are both black and white. The documentary is a valuable oral history in which Southerners born before WWII record for others the joys and hardships of a vanished way of life. Makin’ Do includes over 75 interviews, photos, brief biographies, and video excerpts.

“It is lovely to have worked in the nearby vineyard of Mississippi women’s history and have the Mississippi Humanities Council recognize my research,” Payne said.

Last year, Payne edited the volume Writing Women’s History: A Tribute to Anne Firor Scott, which contains essays by seven women at the forefront of contemporary American women’s history. She is author of Reform, Labor and Feminism: Margaret Dreier Robins and the Women’s Trade Union League and coeditor of volumes one and two of Mississippi Women: Their Histories, Their Lives.

The Mississippi Humanities Council cited Payne’s oral history work, used in a documentary film and as lesson plans and other resources for teachers.

“Teaching women’s history for so many years has been a constant adventure of learning with my students,” Payne said. “Many of my undergraduates have interviewed their great-grandmothers as historical subjects. My Ph.D. students and I interviewed over 100 women in Union County. I had the privilege of interviewing Betty Rutherford Wilson in New Albany when she was 115 years old. At age 30, I had no way of knowing what exciting scholarship awaited me.”

The distinguished history professor was founding director of the UM Honors College, recipient of the Mississippi Historical Society’s Elbert Hilliard Oral History Prize, and a National Humanities Center Fellow in Chapel Hill, N.C.

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