A project revived during my time at the Mississippi Arts Commission, Mississippi Folklife re-imagines its earlier print publication established in 1927 by the Mississippi Folklore Society, as a digital journal featuring original writing and documentary work focused on modern and present-day folklife and cultural heritage throughout the state, with new articles, interviews, photo essays, and films anchored by three core areas: Music, Custom, and Visual Arts.
Mississippi Folklife began as the Mississippi Folklore Register, the peer-reviewed journal of the Mississippi Folklore Society, established in 1927 by Arthur P. Hudson at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.
The journal was produced off-and-on until the early 1990s under a series of editors at the University of Southern Mississippi, and then under former state folklorist Tom Rankin, who brought it back with him to the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. There, it was transformed into a publication at the intersections of an academic journal and a cultural magazine, engaging a broader readership and an emergent set of contributors under the newer Mississippi Folklife moniker, until it went out of print in 1999.
The publication carries an impressive history, with work from historian Charles Reagan Wilson, to beloved writer of African-American culture Margaret Walker Alexander, to noted Southern folklorists William Ferris and D.K. Wilgus, and ethnomusicologist Jeff Todd Titon. At the Center, the publication saw writing from John T. Edge of the Southern Foodways Alliance, sociologist Abbott Ferriss, and Center Director and final editor of the print publication, Ted Ownby.
The Mississippi Arts Commission's folk and traditional arts program supported the publication and the Society (later called the Mississippi Folklife Association) for a number of years. This ongoing partnership made it a natural fit for former folk arts director Mary Margaret Miller—a UM Southern Studies graduate—to receive the publication from the Center. In 2012, MAC revived Mississippi Folklife Online as a special project. In 2015, after a period of reassessment and restructuring during my time as MAC folk arts director, Mississippi Folklife re-launched as a comprehensive digital publication maintaining rigorous editorial standards, while honoring the accessibility its earlier print version.