MSU-Meridian historian honored with state nonfiction award

MERIDIAN, Miss.—A state history book authored by a Mississippi State University-Meridian administrator is receiving the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters’ 2015 non-fiction award.

“A New History of Mississippi” (2014, University Press of Mississippi) by Dennis Mitchell is the first comprehensive chronicle of the Magnolia State since a national bicentennial history was published in 1976.

An associate professor of history and head of MSU-Meridian’s Division of Arts and Sciences, Mitchell will be among MIAL honorees recognized formally June 6 in ceremonies held this year at the University of Southern Mississippi. Other award categories include fiction, poetry, music composition (classical), music composition (popular), photography and visual arts. For more, see

Mitchell is a University of Mississippi doctoral graduate whose dissertation research focused on European and modern U.S. histories, among other areas. Early in his career, he served as assistant director of the Mississippi Humanities Council, where he came to know Eudora Welty and other authors whose writings helped expand his interest in Mississippi history.

Prior to joining the Meridian faculty in 2000, Mitchell taught for nearly two decades at Jackson State University.

In the 672-page “New History,” he uses biographies as a primary method of telling the state’s vibrant and turbulent story. He also incorporated individuals missing from many previous histories, specifically Native Americans, women, African Americans and other minority groups.

Mitchell has said his goal was to present an account appealing both to serious history buffs and casual and curious readers. With content arranged in a chronological format, he wove together and explained the interrelated impact of many large and small occurrences that make up the state’s conflicted narrative.

For more about MSU-Meridian, visit

MSU, the state’s flagship research institution, is online at

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