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South Mississippi College

Hattiesburg, Mississippi



The best source of information about South Mississippi College is the Hattiesburg Daily News and Hattiesburg News, both of which carried ads for and news from the school during its existence.  William Carey University; Celebrating 125 Years has a chapter on South Mississippi College as part of the William Carey history.  The logo (right) is from the Hattiesburg News; the ad (below)is from the Sea Coast Echo of Bay St. Louis























Beginning in the summer of 1907, S.M.C. was one of four colleges to participate as a normal school, providing additional training for high school and elementary teachers.  The school was administered by Vice-President H. D. Todd, using visiting faculty for classes in reading, agriculture, pedagogy, manual training, history and literature. 


Poplarville High School was created in 1892 with W. I. Thames as principal. The large boarding school offered "elementary, preparatory, and some college work."   Reorganized as South Mississippi College in 1906, its main building burned in June of that year.  A new campus created in Hattiesburg, classes opened there in November 1906.  Like its predecessor, it had primary and intermediate departments in addition to academy and college-level classes.  Among the 12-member faculty were teachers of music, expression and domestic science.  In addition, SMC shared its campus and facilities with the Hattiesburg Business College.

School History

Much of the news from S.M.C. concerned students from the music and expression departments.  There students regularly offered recitals, dramatic performances, and orations--and once even a spelling bee.  Students had a chapter of the Crescent Literary Society.  Each year SMC students and faculty provided the entertainment for the annual meeting of the Mississippi Press Association.  


Enrollment of the school at Poplarville was 300, with 100 boarders in 1904.  S.M.C. ads in 1907 claim 285 students in a co-educational setting.  In 1910 enrollment is variously listed as “about 200” and as “over 300.”


On February 23, 1910 the administrative/classroom burned.  While S.M.C. was able to find accommodations to finish the term, it faced a daunting rebuilding expense with a new state-supported normal school poised to open locally.  So in June of 1910 South Mississippi College passed into history.

Bricks and Mortar

The new campus was located one and a half miles south of Hattiesburg.  The ground had been cleared, so that the campus was covered with stumps and newly planted pines.  One student noted that President Thames’ favorite punishment for misbehaving students was to have them dig out stumps. 


Ground was broken for the new buildings in August 1906.  The brick classroom building had a three-story central section with portico.  The two- story wings contained 12 recitation rooms, music rooms, a commercial room, and a 1,000 seat auditorium.   Matching dormitories with room for 320 students flanked the main building.  The campus featured steam heat, electric lights, sanitary toilets, hot and cold showers, and artesian water.  


After the school closed, the campus was purchased by lumber baron W. S. F. Tatum.  Tatum first offered the campus to the new normal school. He then gave it to the Baptist church for the creation of a new Mississippi College for Women—forerunner of the present William Carey University.  A new administration building was completed in 1914.

Postcard image of the administration/classroom building


            School colors: Black and Yellow


On September 13, 1907 students at South Mississippi College formed an athletic association with a view to hiring a coach and forming a football team that would “make Hattiesburg proud.”   The Hattiesburg Daily News reported from time to time that the team was very successful playing against the best teams in the state, but seldom reported on actual games played.  In 1907 a game was scheduled with Brookhaven High School.  In 1908 the team played a scoreless draw with Alabama Medical College in Mobile and lost 16-0 to Spring Hill Academy and 5-0 to Mississippi Medical College.   Games that season were also scheduled against the Jackson Athletic Association and  New Orleans High School.   In 1909 S.M.C. lost twice to Mississippi Medical College 23-0 and 11-6.


Newspapers show that S.M.C. played baseball games against local high school and city league teams.  A basketball team from the school lost to Wiggins High School 17-13 in 1908.

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