Joanna Williams attends 2017 Mississippi Library Association Conference

The history of Alcorn State University was presented by one of the university’s dedicated librarians.

Joanna Williams, reference and archivist librarian at the J. D. Boyd Library, was selected to present a poster board titled, “If Walls Could Talk: An Oral History, Alcorn State University,” at the 2017 Mississippi Library Association (MLA) Conference Thursday, Oct. 19 at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.

Recipients were asked to focus on the conference’s theme, “Tell Your Story,” while preparing their presentations. Williams presented the 1960 Oral History Project collection donated to the J. D. Boyd Library, Archives and Special Collections by a committee within the Department of English and Foreign Languages comprised of Dr. Kathleen Keys, Dr. Peter R. Malik and Dr. Anne-Marie Obilade.

“The focus was on the year of 2014, when the Mississippi Humanities Council (MHC) awarded a grant to Alcorn for the oral history project,” said Williams. “Beginning in the spring of 2015, a total of 13 interviews were conducted with individuals who graduated from Alcorn between the years of 1960 and 1969. The interviewees answered questions relating to academics, fraternity-sorority life, athletics, fashion and civic participation. If the walls of Alcorn State University could talk, these would be some of the experiences one would hear.”

Williams believes that passing along Alcorn’s history to younger generations is vital to keeping the university’s legacy alive.

“With this idea in mind, stories from older generations can be passed down to current generations and as a result, connect to communities playing a vital role in the library. Visiting and listening to the experiences of alumni will illustrate relevance, community impact and play an integral role in library advocacy. This was one of the most memorable Archives Week programs.”