University in Lafayette County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
Documenting the Blues
The University of Mississippi is internationally famous for its work in documenting and preserving African American blues culture. In 1983 the Center for the Study of Southern Culture acquired Living Blues magazine, which was founded in Chicago in 1970. The Living Blues and B.B. King collections of records and memorabilia were among the first major components of the Blues Archive, established by the university in 1984.
Living Blues, the first American magazine dedicated exclusively to the blues, was founded in 1970 by seven young enthusiasts in Chicago. Cofounders Amy van Singel and Jim O’Neal became owners and publishers of the magazine in 1971, operating it until its transfer to the University of Mississippi in 1983. Cofounder Bruce Iglauer formed Alligator Records, which became the most prominent independent blues label, while cofounder Paul Garon wrote several books, including Blues and the Poetic Spirit and biographies of blues artists Memphis Minnie and Peetie Wheatstraw. Living Blues soon became a journal of record for the African American
The Center for the Study of the Southern Culture, established at the University in 1977, acquired Living Blues in 1983. The Center’s director at the time was Dr. William R. Ferris, a Vicksburg native who wrote his doctoral dissertation on Delta blues traditions and was a contributor to Living Blues. O’Neal, who lived in Biloxi and Oxford as a child, and van Singel moved from Chicago to Oxford after the transfer of the magazine. In 1980 they cofounded the Rooster Blvues record label, and O’Neal later started the Stackhouse label and helped establish the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival in Clarksdale. The Center launched its own Southern Culture label in 1983 to document Mississippi blues, gospel, and folk music. Living Blues was later edited by Peter Lee, who was a founder of the Oxford-based Fat Possum record label, David Nelson, Scott Barretta, and Brett J. Bonner. Ferris, Nelson, and Barretta also served as hosts of the University-produced radio show “Highway 61,” which began its long tenure on Mississippi Public Broadcasting in 1984.
Ferris was also instrumental in establishing the University’s Blues Archive, which opened in 1984. Ferris arranged for his friend B. B. King to contribute his large record collection and for O’Neal and van Singel to donate the Living Blues Collection of records, photos, subject files, and memor-abilia. Other major components of the Archive, which is housed at the J. D. Williams Library, include the Trumpet Records Collection, donated by Lillian McMurry of Jackson, and the Sheldon Harris Collection. The Archive has aided thousands of researchers and has been headed by archivists Suzanne Flandreau, Edward Komara, and Greg Johnson. The University has also offered courses on blues topics taught by Ferris, Peter Aschoff, Adam Gussow, David Evans, and others, and in 2003 began hosting “Blues Today: A Living Blues Symposium.”
Erected 2009 by the Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 62.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Arts, Letters, Music • Entertainment. In addition, it is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1983.
Location. 34° 22.027′ N, 89° 31.985′ W. Marker is in University, Mississippi, in Lafayette County. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: Sorority Row, University MS 38677, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. "Dead House" (within shouting distance of this marker); Barnard Observatory (within shouting distance of this marker); Society Of Professional Journalists Historic Site in Journalism (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Barnard Observatory (within shouting distance of this marker); Lamar Hall (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Old Chapel (about 600 feet away); Ventress Hall (about 700 feet away); Lyceum — The Circle Historic District (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in University.
More about this marker. The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) adjoins the City of Oxford.
Also see . . . About Living Blues - the website. (Submitted on April 14, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Credits. This page was last revised on August 30, 2017. It was originally submitted on April 14, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 220 times since then and 35 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on April 14, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.