History Is Lunch: Andrew Haley, “Grave Concerns: Cooking and Conservation in the Mississippi Delta”

Two Mississippi Museums | 222 North Street, Jackson, Mississippi, 39201

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Join the MDAH in person at noon at the Two Mississippi Museums on Wednesday, July 27, for History is Lunch (or watch the livestream on Facebook) when Andrew Haley will present “Grave Concerns: Cooking and Conservation in the Mississippi Delta.”
In 1958 a nature preserve, community cookbook, and graveyard were improbably connected through the foresight and efforts of a group of Delta women. That year, the Tchula Garden Club published an eclectic assortment of recipes for everything from squirrel stew to cabbage tamales and advice on what to do when bitten by insects. “But it was more than a compendium of favorite dishes and timely counsel,” said Haley. “Tchula’s leading women—the wives of plantation owners and local businessmen—organized the project to raise funds for a new cemetery and nature preserve.”
University of Southern Mississippi food historian Andrew Haley contrasts this female-led effort with the more celebrated New Deal conservation programs of Tchula’s male planters. “Although the efforts of Tchula’s women were never as celebrated as those of its men, the Garden Club better anticipated the future of conservation in the Mississippi Delta,” said Haley.
The Tchula Garden Club Cook Book is one of more than 200 community cookbooks published before 1970 and held by USM’s Special Collections as part of the state’s largest collection of Mississippi culinary history. “Community cookbooks have been an overlooked resource for exploring foodways at the regional level,” said Haley. “They tell stories about changing dining habits, gender politics, race relations, and even American national identity.”
History Is Lunch is sponsored by the John and Lucy Shackelford Charitable Fund of the Community Foundation for Mississippi. The hour-long programs are held in the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium of the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. MDAH livestreams videos of the program at noon on Wednesdays on their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/MDAHOfficial/ and later posts the videos to their YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/MDAHVideo.
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