‘Tales from the Crypt’ wins Mississippi Historical Records award

May 1, 2009



Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science students have one more thing to be proud of this year. The annual history program "Tales from the Crypt" received the Award for Excellence in Use of Historical Records in Grades K-12 through the Mississippi Historical Records Advisory Board.  


The award recognizes an understanding of the educational value of primary sources and the extent to which they have been integrated into a classroom, school district curriculum or academic course or program of study; impact of the use of primary sources on student academic performance and community involvement; use of innovative and creative techniques for using primary sources in the classroom; and evidence of a collaborative effort with an archival program. 


Chuck Yarborough, instructor for the "Tales from the Crypt" program, was honored by the acknowledgment for both the program and for the hard work of his students. "It''s incredible to be honored by the primary agency for preserving the historical records of our state and its communities," Yarborough said. 




Going to the source 


The "Tales from the Crypt" course assigns MSMS juniors the task of researching individuals buried in Columbus'' historic Friendship Cemetery. With only a list of names, the students take full advantage of the primary and secondary sources available at The Local History Room at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library as well as the Lowndes County Courthouse and any online databases.  


Students examine records such as marriage records, local court records (probate, general docket and circuit), census records, newspapers, city minute books, family histories, city directories and many more. After four months of research, the students compile their findings into roughly a 10-20 page paper on the genealogy and life of Columbus citizens from long ago. Twelve students are then chosen to create a vignette on their researched individual. They perform the vignettes in Friendship Cemetery for multiple tours held during the annual Columbus Pilgrimage in March and April with roughly 2,000 people attending an average of five performances per year. The "Tales from the Crypt" program was started in 1991 by Carl Butler. 




Preserving history 


The program was nominated for the MHRAB award by archivist Mona K. Vance with the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library. 


"''Tales from the Crypt'' exemplifies how original documents can be utilized in a classroom where students learn an appreciation of how primary sources reverberate through time," Vance said. 


This is the first year MHRAB has offered an awards program to recognize exemplary achievements and to encourage efforts to identify, preserve, provide access to and utilize the state''s historical records. Other awards include recognition for Excellence in Documenting Mississippi''s History, Excellence in Use of Historical Records in Higher Education, and Excellence in Archival Program Development. To find out more about MHRAB, visit http://mdah.state.ms.us/admin/shrab/shrab.php.  


Award ceremonies took place April 23 at the Society of Mississippi Archivists annual conference held at the University of Southern Mississippi''s Gulf Coast Campus in Long Beach.