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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Olé, Ole Miss!

The University of Mississippi is called simply Ole Miss nine times out of ten. A lot of out-of-state people call her Old Miss, but we know that isn't right. It's Ole. Last night, we were asked about books that would address the question "Where did the nickname Ole Miss come from?" I assumed that it was a typical Southernism--an elided consonant here, a shortened word there--and, voila! Easy Peasy.
Ah, not so fast! I checked out a few of our books here at the Mississippi Library Commission and found a few interesting nuggets. In The University of Mississippi: A Sesquicentennial History, David G. Sansing writes:
In 1897, the Greek societies established a college yearbook, which they titled Ole Miss, a name suggested by Elma Meek, a student from Oxford. The term "Ole Miss" was a title domestic slaves in the Old South used to distinguish the mistress of the plantation house from the young misses of the family. The first volume of the yearbook was dedicated to the University Greys, and within two years students and alumni were referring to the University of Mississippi as Ole Miss.
It seems that The University of Mississippi viewed itself as the college in the state. By the way, this book is available at Eudora Welty Library (part of the Jackson/Hinds Library System) and the Mississippi Library Commission.

1 comment:

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