Mississippi Industrial College
Holly Springs, Mississippi
I obtained my copy of MIC Key, the school yearbook, from FamilyWeSearch.com. The deteriorating Mississippi Industrial campus has drawn the attention of a number of photographers, whose photos appear on Flickr. In addition, newspaper reporters are chronicling the attempts to rescue it.
Mississippi Industrial College was founded in 1905 by the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church. Bishop Elias Cottrell wanted to found a college for Negro youth which would inculcate Christian ideals, would provide a practical education, and would make better citizens. The first classes were held that fall. For the next 77 years the school fulfilled that mission, expanding to teacher education, the ministry, and the liberal arts. The 1960 MIC Key, shows that the overwhelming number of graduates majored in elementary education; physical education and mathematics also had high graduation numbers. In addition, MIC offered programs in auto mechanics, home economics and commercial subjects.
The 1960 enrollment was around 400 students, most from Mississippi. Three student organizations had a religious orientation—YMCA, YWCA and Christian Youth Fellowship. There were also a Veterans’ Club, a Student Council, and a College Chorus. Major campus social events included Founders Day, Homecoming, and Veterans’ Ball.
As with many historically black colleges, MIC lost students when they were allowed to attend formerly all-white schools. Changing expectations of a new generation of black students led to greater enrollment losses at MIC. After federal funding was cut in 1981, Mississippi Vocational was forced to close in 1982.
Bricks and Mortar
The first campus building was Catherine Hall, built in 1906. Named for the wife of Elias Cottrell, it originally served as both a classroom building and a women’s dormitory. It contained part of the Mills House, an antebellum mansion on the 110-acre college site.
Hammond Hall, the men’s dormitory, was completed in 1907. Washington Hall, built in 1910 and named for Booker T. Washington, became the administration building. Carnegie Auditorium, funded by a donation from Andrew Carnegie, was built in 1923 and contained the largest auditorium in Mississippi that was open to blacks.
When the campus closed, the buildings stood unoccupied, deteriorating. Four of the buildings—including Washington Hall and Carnegie Auditorium—are on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2008, Rust College assumed control of the buildings in an attempt to save them from further deterioration.
Catherine Hall as it appeared in 1910. Image from Era of Progress and Promise (digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/ref/collection/p249901coll37/id/4457) accessed 10-25-2017
Team name: Tigers
Colors: Purple and Gold
In 1960 MIC fielded teams in football, basketball, baseball, track and boxing. The Tigers played in the South Central Athletic Association, a league of HBCU schools in Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas. Conference rivals were Mississippi Vocational (now Mississippi Valley State) Alcorn A&M (now Alcorn State) and Arkansas AM&N (now Arkansas-Pine Bluff).
According to the College Football Data Warehouse, Mississippi Industrial played football from 1920 until it dropped the sport in 1965. A major non-conference rival, Rust College, is across the street from the MIC campus. MIC’s best years were 1947-50 when teams went 28-7-2. The 1953 team had a 6-1-1 record.
The 1959-60 team finished 4-5 for the season and 3-2 in the SCAA. The Tigers defeated Lane (TN), Alcorn, Tougaloo (MS), and Paul Quinn (TX). They lost to Mississippi Vocational, Arkansas AM&N, Bishop (TX), Miles (AL), and Rust.
At that time Mississippi Industrial College did not field teams in women’s sports.
The 1959-60 basketball team (Image from MIC Key)