UM History Professor to Be Honored

OXFORD, Miss. – The Mississippi Humanities Council has announced recipients for its 2012 Public Humanities Awards, which include a University of Mississippi history professor.

Elizabeth Anne Payne has been recognized for her outstanding contributions as a Mississippian to the study and understanding of the humanities. Recipients will be honored at a public ceremony and banquet Friday (Feb. 24) at the Hilton Hotel in Jackson.

Payne said she was delighted to learn she would receive the Humanities Scholar award.

“It is lovely to have worked in the nearby vineyard of Mississippi women’s history and have the Mississippi Humanities Council recognize my research,” she said.

Last year, Payne edited the volume “Writing Women’s History: A Tribute to Anne Firor Scott” (University Press of Mississippi, 2011), which includes essays by seven woman who are the forefront of contemporary scholarship on American women’s history. She is also the author of “Reform, Labor and Feminism: Margaret Dreier Robins and the Women’s Trade Union League” and coeditor of volumes one and two of “Mississippi Women: Their Histories, Their Lives.”

“Teaching women’s history for so many years has been a constant adventure of learning with my students,” Payne said. “Many of my undergraduates have interviewed their great-grandmothers as historical subjects. My Ph.D. students and I interviewed over 100 women in Union County.

“I had the privilege of interviewing Betty Rutherford Wilson in New Albany when she was 115 years old. At age 30, I had no way of knowing what exciting scholarship awaited me.”

The Mississippi Humanities Council also cited her work with oral histories, which was the basis for a documentary, and included lesson plans and other resources for teachers; and the expansion of that interest to numerous other areas of women’s lives. The council felt Payne’s wide interest and widespread and generous use of her knowledge to reach a wide and diverse audience are particular benefit to scholarship and support the Council’s motto that “the humanities are for everyone.”

The distinguished history professor was the founding director of the UM Honors College, and in 2008, she was the recipient of the Mississippi Historical Society’s Elbert Hilliard Oral History Prize and was a National Humanities Center Fellow in Chapel Hill, N.C.

The Mississippi Humanities Council is funded by Congress through the National Endowment for the Humanities to provide public programs in traditional liberal arts disciplines to serve nonprofit groups in Mississippi.

“We are pleased to pay tribute to the outstanding work of these award recipients,” said Pamela Pridgen, chair of the Mississippi Humanities Council. “Their achievements are examples of the importance of the work of the council as we advance appreciation for the humanities statewide and in widely diverse areas of human interest.”