Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Special Collections / McCain Library

I thoroughly enjoyed visiting McCain Library to look at a few examples of the special collections last week. In my opinion, the Miss Southern handbook was one of the most interesting documents that we discussed. The handbooks were written for incoming female students at the University of Southern Mississippi and were intended to serve as guidance in helping women adjust and prepare for college. McCain Library has four copies of ladies handbooks that date from the 1950’s and 1960’s.
The handbooks include codes of conduct, regulations, restrictions, and penalty systems for all female students at the university. For example, all females living in the dormitory had to sign in and out each time they arrived and left the building. In addition, the ladies could not be absent from the dormitory for more than five hours without special permission. The students were ordered to be in their dorm rooms at 9:15 and 11:00 p.m. each week night for room check. Lights out was at 11:30 p.m. It is uncanny to think of the rules and regulations that were placed on women in the 1960’s as compared to the lifestyles that we have now. I was shocked to realize the lack of freedom that women had in the 1960’s. The content of the book when read seemed more like a “way of life” for college women in the 1930’s or 40’s.
In my opinion, college should be something that allows a student more freedom than they have had up until that point in their life. It allows you to grow, mature and become responsible. I believe it is better if you learn this on your own rather than someone forcing rules on you as a young adult. I strongly disagree with the strict limitations that were placed on these college women of the 1960’s.

The link to the digital collection of the Miss Southern handbook (1966-67) is:

Below are photos of the USM Writing Center, the Miss Southern - USM Student Handbook for Women, and the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection.