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USM Graduate Student Paige Mason to Present Baird Lecture March 26

Fri, 03/22/2024 - 03:37pm | By: David Tisdale

Baird Lecture

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Center for the Study of the Gulf South’s Baird Fellow for 2023-24 is Paige Mason, a Master of Arts student in the USM History program, who will give the annual Baird Lecture Tuesday, March 26 from 6-7 p.m. in the Liberal Arts Building (LAB) room 108 on the Hattiesburg campus. Her presentation is titled "We Won't Give Up on This Until We Get It: Mississippi Women's Organizations and the Long Fight for Jury Service.”

A native of Gilbertown, Alabama, Mason’s graduate program focuses on 20th century U.S history, with her research looking specifically at the women’s jury movement in Mississippi during the 1950’s and 1960’s. Mississippi was the last state to allow women to serve on juries. Mason examines the factors causing women in the state to be barred from serving on juries, including during the civil rights movement.

The 2023-24 Baird Fellowship supported Mason’s travel for her research efforts at the Mississippi Department of Archives in History and in the Archives and Special Collections at the University of Mississippi in examining the significant role women’s organizations, including the League of Women Voters and the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, had in the decades-long campaign for women’s jury service in the state.

“I hope my audience will come away from the lecture recognizing the significance of the women’s jury movement in Mississippi, and the privilege of jury service,” Mason said. “Mississippi became the last state to allow women to serve on state court juries in 1968. Mississippi women, including women’s organizations, were at the forefront of the women’s jury movement.

“Despite being met with obstruction from opponents, advocates remained steadfast in their quest for jury service and recognized that without the right to serve on a jury of their peers, they were not being treated as equal citizens.” 

Mason came to USM in 2022 after graduating with honors from Judson College in 2021; she has presented her research at the Gulf South History and Humanities Conference. Her major advisor is USM Associate Professor of History Dr. Rebecca Tuuri, who also serves as interim associate dean of the USM Honors College and co-director of the Center for the Study of the Gulf South.

The USM History Program is housed in the College of Arts and Sciences School of Humanities. Learn more about the USM History Program and its Center for the Study of the Gulf South.