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Friday, March 18, 2016

Never Looked Better

By Susan Cassagne
Executive Director
Mississippi Library Commission 

Capitol Street in downtown Jackson, MS - 1920s
The year was 1926, 90 years ago, when the Mississippi Library Commission was born in our legislature. I recently thought about what things must have been like back then; what was daily life like during that year in Mississippi? With a little research, I discovered that Calvin Coolidge was serving his second term as President of the United States. One in six Americans owned a car and the Model T Ford was considered the first affordable automobile in America. Negro History Week was celebrated for the first time; it would later become Black History Month.

Model T Ford - 1920s

One of the most recognizable characters in children's literature, Winnie the Pooh, written by A.A. Milne, began spreading joy and teaching about love and acceptance. Additionally, Ernest Hemingway penned his classic, The Sun Also Rises, and our own William Faulkner released his first novel, Soldiers' Pay. It was a banner year for literature.

Flappers were all the rage and Al Jolson, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington were singing the popular songs of the day. Rudolph Valentino died of appendicitis and devoted fans were devastated by the loss. Over 100,000 people lined the streets of New York to say farewell to the beloved actor.  Babe Ruth hit three home runs in Game Four of the World Series and Scottish inventor John Baird introduced the first television.

Babe Ruth
Here at home, Henry Lewis Whitfield was governor of the state. Whitfield was born in Rankin County and began a teaching career at the age of sixteen after he obtained his degree from Mississippi College. He was elected governor in 1923, which was the first election in which women could vote for governor in Mississippi. During his administration, he recommended a progressive legislative program that included better mental health care, better vocational training, the reorganization of the entire public school system, and better economic opportunities for the state's black citizens.

Governor Henry Lewis Whitfield
Today, the Mississippi Library Commission celebrates its 90th year. This birthday brings with it a history of significant moments, that include consistent leadership, advocacy, and service to libraries across the state. We are proud to introduce our new brand - a new look that underscores our commitment to those we serve. Happy birthday, MLC; you've never looked better. May you continue to serve for 90 plus more!

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