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Mississippi Moments Podcast

Since 1971, the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage has been preserving the memories of Mississippians from all walks of life. Our collection of over 4,000 interviews and counting has proven an invaluable resource for teachers, writers, researchers, and museums. While our collection has a recognized strength in the history of the civil rights movement and veterans' histories, the Center has collected broadly. The topics covered within the collection encompass the breadth of the state’s history.   Mississippi Moments began in early 2005 as a weekly series of radio spots broadcast statewide on Mississippi Public Broadcasting with funding provided by the Mississippi Humanities Council. Each episode features stories gleaned from hours of research, edited for time and clarity and narrated by Mississippi broadcast veteran, Bill Ellison. These stories range in topic and tone, but war stories and the struggle for civil rights receive the most attention. MSMO is not a History series. History frequently comes along for the ride, but Story drives the narrative. In 2009, the Mississippi Moments Podcast was launched as a way to make past and future episodes available online and searchable by subject. The podcast format allows us to greatly expand on the broadcast version and bonus content is a given. So give us a listen. With over 600 episodes available and new ones added each month, you are certain to find some amazing, moving stories about the diverse and colorful people who call Mississippi home.
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Now displaying: Category: Business History
Aug 14, 2017

During the first part of the Twentieth Century, Mississippi experienced a timber boom as Northern business interests bought up huge tracts of virgin pine trees and began harvesting the wood with little regard for the future. All that remained when they left, were fields of stumps as far as the eye could see and unemployed timber workers. 

When the Hercules Powder Company opened a plant in Hattiesburg in 1925, they brought jobs and a renewed sense of hope to the area.  The company put men back to work digging up the seemingly endless supply of stumps and limbs the sawmills left behind to extract the resin the wood contained. The resin was then processed and shipped around the world for use in the manufacture of a variety of products.

In 1925, Buck Wells’ father went to work for the Hercules plant in Hattiesburg.  In this episode, he remembers how the town struggled during the Great Depression and the way Hercules looked out for its workers. When he turned 16, Wells went to work for the company, himself, harvesting stumps. He recalls how clear-cutting had devastated the land and how Hercules turned those stumps into gold.

Prior to World War II, Germany and Japan were important customers for the Hercules Plant in Hattiesburg. Wells explains how the loss of that business hurt the local economy until America entered the war. The boom that followed would grow the company into a giant of industry, and continued until the end of the 1950s, when tree stumps became increasingly hard to find.  Wells discusses the company’s cost-cutting efforts and how the move to management led him to a second career. He retired from Hercules in 1980, after 45 years with the company.

Jan 13, 2014

   As the sons of Holiday Inn founder Kemmons Wilson, Spence, Bob, and Kemmons, Jr. were expected to follow in their famous father’s footsteps. In this episode, Memphis native Kemmons Jr. discusses how the three brothers divide the duties of the diverse corporation.

   Like their father, all three sons are veteran pilots. Bob Wilson details how they combined their love of flying with their experience in the hospitality industry.

   In 1979, Kemmons Wilson retired from Holiday Inn.  Two years later, he brought that same innovative spirit to the vacation resort industry. Spence Wilson explains.

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