Meridian Star

September 29, 2013

Meridian to host Smithsonian exhibit

By Terri Ferguson Smith /
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — A Smithsonian traveling exhibit will make its first Mississippi stop in Meridian later this week.

    "The Way We Worked," is coming to the Mississippi Industrial Heritage Museum and Soule Steam Works beginning Oct. 5, according to Greg Hatcher, executive director of the museum.

    "We put in a bid to have the Smithsonian exhibit come to the museum here at Soule," Hatcher said. "It's photographs from the National Archives with some interpretations, some oral history and a few artifacts."

    Hatcher said because the museum is located at Soule Steam Works, a thriving Meridian work place for more than 100 years, it is the perfect setting for the Smithsonian exhibit.

    The exhibit will run through Nov. 12 at the museum, located at 1808 Fourth Street. The museum will be open extra hours during the exhibit; Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. daily; on Sundays from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. at no charge to the public.

    Usually the museum is open by appointment and on event days only.

    The exhibit is being made available free to the public because the Mississippi Humanities Council partnered with the industrial museum, Hatcher said.

    A statement from the Smithsonian said that work and the workplace have gone through enormous changes between the mid-19th century, when 60 percent of Americans made their living as farmers, and the early 21st century. The exhibit celebrates the history of work in America, telling the stories of how Americans of every ethnicity, class, gender and age work.  

     “The work that each of us does every day speaks volumes about who we are as individuals, as communities and as a country,” said Anna R. Cohn, director of SITES. “We all have our own work journeys, and each one of these jobs reflects the various kinds of work that has and continues to build and strengthen the nation.”

    “The Way We Worked” brings to light the who, what, where, why and how of Americans at work, according to Cohn. It explores the places Americans worked, from farms to factories and mines to restaurants, as  well as in homes. It also looks at how some people worked for better working conditions, wages and hours, and an end to racial and gender discrimination.

    Hatcher reminds those who visit the museum to go to the Fourth Street entrance. Many people are accustomed to entering from 19th Avenue original entrance, he said.

    "We moved it down here because there's more room," Hatcher said.

    Plans are also under way for the 11th annual Soule Steam Works Festival, which will be held Nov. 1-2.