Book by MSU-Meridian professor explores state history

MERIDIAN, Miss-The first comprehensive narrative of Mississippi since a Bicentennial history was published in 1976 is the latest work of an administrator and historian at Mississippi State University-Meridian.

"A New History of Mississippi" was written by professor Dennis J. Mitchell, head of the campus' Division of Arts and Sciences. The 672-page book is published by University Press of Mississippi.

Using biographies as the primary method of telling the state’s vibrant and turbulent history, Mitchell incorporates individuals missing from many previous histories, specifically Native Americans, women, African Americans and other minority groups. Presented in a chronological format, Mitchell has woven together and explained the interrelated impact of many large and small occurrences that make up the state's conflicted history.

Mitchell said his goal was to present a story that appeals to both serious history buffs and casual and curious readers.

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 was the Mississippi Humanities Council’s assistant director, and it was while at MHC that he came to know Eudora Welty and other authors whose writings helped expand his interest in Mississippi history.

In addition to the latest book, Mitchell is the author, with others, of "A Rich Past A Vibrant Future: The History & Renovation of the Marks Rothenberg and Grand Opera House Buildings" (MSU, 2006). Among his additional works are "Frank E. Smith: Mississippi Liberal" (University Press of Mississippi, 2001) and "Cross and Tory Democracy: A Political Biography of Richard Assheton Cross" (Garland Press New York, 1991). He also co-authored "Mississippi: Portrait of an American State" for Clairmont Press in 1998 and 2005.

Prior to joining the Meridian faculty in 2000, Mitchell taught for nearly two decades at Jackson State University and was acting history department chair 1997-99.
For more about MSU-Meridian's Division of Arts and Sciences, visit

Complete details about Mississippi State are found at


Over the next month, Mitchell will be signing his new book at the following locations:
—June 17, 4–6 p.m., Lorelei Books, Vicksburg;
—June 18, 1–3 p.m., Turning Pages Books & More, Natchez;
—June 25, 5–7 p.m., Square Books, Oxford;
—June 26, noon–1:30 p.m., Reed's Gum Tree Bookstore, Tupelo;
—June 26, 3:30–5 p.m., The Book Mart, Starkville;
—June 27, 5–7 p.m., Barnes & Noble Bookstore, MSU-Meridian; and
—July 12, noon–2 p.m., Pass Christian Books, Pass Christian.

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