The exhibit titled “Mr. Pruitt’s Possum Town: Photographing Trouble & Resilience in the American South” will be on display at the Burke Memorial Library at Spring Hill College.
The exhibit reveals life between 1915-1960 in Columbus, Mississippi, a town, according to curator Berkley Hudson, “shaped in the crucible of slavery and cotton and the Civil War.” Built around the collection of photographer Otis Noel Pruitt (1891 -1967), a white man in the racially segregated South, the exhibition explores race relations and issues of class, gender, and religion. Photographer O.N. Pruitt was for some forty years the de facto documentarian of Lowndes County, Mississippi, and its county seat, Columbus--known to locals as “Possum Town.”
Pruitt’s work is distinguished by a passion to prolifically and diligently document the customs, lives, joys, and sorrows of people in his hometown. His pictures provide a candid and ultimately disturbing visual history of the inequality of that era in the Jim Crow American South, and serve as an invaluable resource for those interested in civil rights, photography, and American history.
Burke Memoiral Library will host exhibit from Friday, September 8, 2023, through Friday, November 3, 2023. It will be displayed on the second floor of the library near the atrium. The exhibit is open during regular library hours. For more information call 251-380-3870 or email Katy Osborne.
Mr. Pruitt’s Possum Town: Photographing Trouble & Resilience in the American South is sponsored by the Friends of the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library System. It was produced by Curatorial, Inc. All photographs by O.N. Pruitt and provided courtesy of the Pruitt-Shanks Collection, the Southern Historical Collection, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries.
A farmers’ hay market where pigs, chickens, and sorghum and cane syrup were sold, Main Street at Fourth Street intersection, circa 1927.Courtesy of Curatorial, Inc. andthe O.N. Pruitt Collection at the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries.