Columbus-Lowndes Public Library

Columbus, MS


The Local History Department was created in the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library (CLPL) in the 1970s and expanded upon in 1992 as a result of a donation from the Snowdoun Foundation. The Department is charged with the mission of documenting the history and culture of Columbus and Lowndes County. The CLPL digital collection contains selections from archival collections located in the Billups-Garth Archives within the Local History Department.

These materials are presented online for educational purposes only. Images may contain copyrighted material. Use of these materials on websites, in exhibits, or in publications requires the permission of Columbus-Lowndes Public Library and/or the legal copyright holder. The user bears full responsibility for securing any and all appropriate permissions. Please contact The Local History Department at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library for further information.


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CLPL Collections


Eugenia (Genie) R. Morgan Letters, 1889-1890. (MS 455)

Eugenia “Genie” R. Morgan was born April 13, 1873 in Columbus, Mississippi to John D. Morgan (1841-1905) and Mary Couch (1845-1924). Her paternal Aunt, Eugenia Morgan Moore (1838-1919), owned Camellia Place and taught dance lessons there. Genie attended Judson College in Marion, Alabama, but became sick in 1889 and could not return to college that year.

The bulk of this collections 79 letters were written during the 1889-1890 period while Genie recovered at home in Columbus. Genie primarily wrote to her second cousin, William Jemison Prowell Jr. (1872-1950) in Birmingham, Alabama. Many of the letters discuss the romantic relationship between Genie and Jemison. Genie also wrote from Asheville, North Carolina where she assisted her father in his recovery from an illness. A few letters were written from when she returned to Judson College that discuss events, students, and teachers. Genie Morgan died on December 30, 1894 when she was 21 years old and is buried in Friendship Cemetery in Columbus.


Ezra Baker, Jr. Papers (MS 458)

Ezra Baker, Jr. was born in Louisville, Mississippi in 1944. He graduated from Louisville High in 1962. After high school he attended Jackson State University where he graduated in 1966 with a Bachelor of Science Degree. He later earned a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education from Mississippi State University in 1969. In 1967, he started teaching at the Columbus Municipal School District.

It was in 1972, that Baker, along with Frank Allen Yates, and Willie James Conard, were terminated from their teaching positions at Stephen D. Lee High School for violating the schools grooming code. The violations related specifically to the wearing of sideburns and mustaches/beards. Supporters of the three teachers argued that the school’s grooming code was arbitrary and discriminated against African American. Roughly 200 students left class and marched to the offices of the Columbus Municipal Separate School Board to protest.

The three men sued the school system. The case; Ezra Baker, Jr., et al. v. James E. Goolsby, et all; went to trail and on October 30, 1972 Judge William Keady of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi Eastern Division declared that the firings were unconstitutional and ordered that all three teachers be reinstated with back pay.

The bulk of the collection contains photocopies of correspondence, court documents, the school code of conduct, and newspaper clippings concerning the 1972 unlawful termination case. The digitized material on the MDL site includes the newspaper clippings, a chronological list of events, and a photograph of Ezra Baker, Jr. all relating to the 1972 case.


Lowndes County (Mississippi) Annuals Collection
Annunciation Catholic School Annuals
Caledonia High School Annuals
Columbus High School Annuals
East Lowndes Academy Annuals
Golden Triangle Vocational-Technical Center Annuals
Heritage Academy Annuals
Joe Cook Junior High School Annuals
Joe Cook Middle School Annuals
Robert E. Hunt Junior High School Annuals
Robert E. Hunt Middle School Annuals
Robert S. Caldwell Senior High School Annuals
Stephen D. Lee High School Annuals


Lowndes County Postcard Collection (MS 232)

This collection contains over 330 postcards of different businesses, schools, public buildings, homes, churches, events, and locations around Lowndes County, Mississippi. The postcards date from the 1890s to the 1990s. Both the front and the back of each postcard was scanned for inclusion in this digital collection.


Marion Stark Gaines Photograph Collection (MS 323)

Marion Viola Stark Gaines (1850-1942) is one of Mississippi's earliest published female photographers. Gaines was born in Columbus, Mississippi, but grew up in Mobile, Alabama. After marrying Captain Abner Strother Gaines in 1879, she moved to Peachwood Plantation in State Line, Mississippi. Her photographs capture the flora, fauna, and people of both State Line as well as Mobile. Many of her images are of her three children: George, Viola, and Edmond. She also captured local African Americans as well as Native Americans. Gaines not only exhibited her work, but also published several of her images in popular contemporary magazines such as Photo-Era and Ladies Home Journal. The collection includes over 300 of Gaines' prints and negatives dating from the 1890s-1910s in addition to family papers and photographs.


Wylie Coleman Banks Scrapbook, 1911-1913 (MS 435)

Wylie Coleman Banks was born in Eutaw, Alabama on December 29, 1896 to Willis Alston Banks (1857-1934) and Jennie Dunlap Banks (1867-1950), and the family later settled in Columbus, Mississippi. Throughout his life, Banks was educated at Franklin Academy, the University of Mississippi, and the University of Alabama. Banks also served as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps and practiced law. On March 23, 1963, Banks died in DeLand, Florida and was buried in Friendship Cemetery, located in Columbus, Mississippi.

The bulk of this collection is a scrapbook that was created by Banks. This scrapbook contains photographs from Banks’s childhood, which includes images of his family, pets, and local community. Each photograph is accompanied by a short caption and/or date, and dates span from 1911 to 1913. In addition, fourteen loose photographs make up a portion of the collection. These photographs contain images of individuals, animals, dwellings, and automobiles among others.