School Photographs (Mississippi), 1920s-1980s

Six series of photographs received from the Mississippi Department of Education, totaling 7,995 images, are presented together here. Two series contain images that accompanied surveys sponsored by the Educational Finance Commission to document the condition of Mississippi schools in the 1950s. The remaining series depict school buildings, school transportation, and education in general in Mississippi from the 1920s to the 1980s. In most cases, captions and identifying information were transcribed directly from the original and reflect the language and terminology of the time period.

Collection Description

Additional Information Regarding Educational Finance Commission School Survey Photographs, 1954-1957

The Mississippi Legislature in 1952 established a recess committee to "study and prepare legislation concerning the public school system and all facilities and departments thereof in the state of Mississippi." In November of the following year, Governor Hugh White called the Legislature into extraordinary session to review the reports and recommendations of that committee and to consider legislation amending the laws relative to the state's public schools to address teacher salaries, increase efficiency and economy, and bring equality of educational opportunity for all children with respect to personnel, school buildings and facilities, transportation, and curriculum.

During that 1953 extraordinary session, the Legislature abolished all school districts in existence in the state and mandated that they be reconstituted or reorganized by July 1, 1957. The law required that each reconstituted district embrace the educable children of all races living within the district and called a satisfactory plan of equalization of facilities between the races a prerequisite to reconstitution. Also during that session the Legislature ordered that a county board of education be established in each county of the state and created the Educational Finance Commission (EFC) to relieve local taxing units of having to bear entirely the burden of providing equality of educational opportunity. Counties were required to have school surveys made in accordance with regulations issued by the newly created EFC. The EFC issued criteria for school district reorganization on October 1, 1954 and would not consider a county plan for reorganization until a survey had been made by an EFC-approved survey agency. Surveys were conducted by Mississippi State University, the University of Mississippi, Mississippi Southern College (now the University of Southern Mississippi), and the private firm Associated Consultants in Education. Survey report formats vary, but typically contain county population data, school enrollment and attendance figures, transportation maps and data, lists of existing school buildings and their conditions, curricula, financial information, and recommendations for new school facilities.

Photographs produced to support the EFC school surveys are found in three series of records transferred to MDAH by the Mississippi Department of Education, two of which (Series 1513: School Photograph Scrapbooks and Series 1655: Educational Finance Commission Docket Files) have been digitized and are available online. Series 1513 contains images from scrapbooks compiled to accompany separate text-only survey reports, while Series 1655 contains loose images that were submitted with survey reports and then filed in the docket files created by the EFC each time it received an official request from a county for the reorganization of a school district.

The third series (1653: School Building Surveys from the Act of 1953) has not yet been digitized. Series 1653 contains the actual survey reports, some of which include photographs printed along with the text. Images of schools in Adams, Alcorn, Amite, Calhoun, Chickasaw, Claiborne, Covington, Forrest, Franklin, George, Greene, Jackson, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Lawrence, Lincoln, Lowndes, Marion, Perry, Pike, Stone, Sunflower, Tishomingo, Wayne and Wilkinson counties are located in Series 1653 and may be viewed upon request in the MDAH library's archival reading room (for more information see The only Mississippi county not having photographs in any of the three series is Carroll, which has a survey report in Series 1653 that contains no photographs.

Additional information on Mississippi school buildings, including geographic location details, photographs, and dates of construction and destruction, can often be found in the Historic Resources Inventory (HRI) database, a compendium of information about Mississippi's landmarks and architecture compiled and managed by the MDAH Historic Preservation Division. The HRI can be searched at

The John E. Phay Collection at the University of Mississippi contains images that supported surveys conducted for Benton, Clay, Grenada, Holmes, Jones, Panola, Prentiss, Quitman, Tallahatchie, Union, and Yalobusha counties (see