Ole Miss is a deeply rooted, Southern powerhouse university. You already know about the wins over Bama, the quaint atmosphere of Oxford, and the decked-out dorms, but Ole Miss holds some serious history as well. Here are ten interesting facts about the Flagship that you may not know!
1. Ole Miss hired the first female professor in the Southeast (take that Bama).
Although Mississippi is not known for being ahead of the times, Ole Miss defied that stereotype in 1885 when they hired Sarah Isom. Her name may sound familiar, as the Center for Women and Gender Studies is named for this glass ceiling shattering powerhouse. Turning away from a career on the stage, Isom used her knack for public speaking to teach Elocution to rising politicians.
2. An 8 A.M. in Farley Hall will really kill you.
If you pay attention, there is a plaque outside of Farley naming it the “Dead house.” The name is in reference to Farley’s role as a morgue during the Civil War. The bodies were carried from Farley, across campus, to the civil war cemetery. Although the original building was demolished in 1958, Farley now claims its eerie history. BONUS: The Lyceum was used as a hospital. Possibly for the convenient location near Farley…
3. It’s a major (Faulkner) Award!
If you have a minute or two after grabbing your morning Starbucks, hike the stairs to the Archives on the top floor for a little history. You can either wander around on your own or ask a faculty memeber to guide you to William Faulkner’s 1949 Nobel Prize for Literature. The small, twenty-three carat gold coin sits in a class case right on the Ole Miss campus. If you look around, there are also a few of Faulkner’s manuscripts.
4. James Meredith’s was, and is still, against his memorial statue.
An image some view as a symbol of hope, progress, and equality, the statue of James Meredith behind the museum was erected in 2006. While it drew a lot of attention in 2014 when an ex-Ole Miss student hung a noose and a Confederate flag on Meredith’s image, two years before James Meredith himself spoke out against the image. He went so far as to say that the University should have it “ground into dust.” James Meredith goes so far to say that “the only racial reconciliation that ever occurred in America was the reconciliation between white southerners and white northerners after the Civil War.” His feelings are quite contrary to the feelings of many that walk past his statue everyday.
5. What came first Oxford or the University?
Answer: Oxford. The people of Oxford named the town in hopes that the state of Mississippi would be attracted by the academic name to establish a University. The name worked, and the Mississippi State Legislature chartered the University of Mississippi in 1844. Four years later, the University of Mississippi opened its doors to 80 students as the only public institution of higher learning.
6. Breakfast at Tiffany’s in Ventress.
An original Tiffany stained glass window sits in a stairwell in Ventress hall. The window was gifted by the Delta Gamma sorority in 1891 in memory of Ole Miss students who fought in the Civil War. he window is over a story tall and can be seen from the outside of the building passing by, check it out on the way to class next time.
7. Colonel Reb had a farm e-i-e-i-o.
In the early days of Ole Miss, the circle was very different than it is today. Originally, the circle was an area for students to use to keep their livestock while they were in school. That’s right. Horses, chickens, and cows were a common sight walking from class to class. Apparently, there were goats on campus long before fraternities began their weird fascination with the animals.
8. Wartime on the Homefront.
While Ole Miss definitely has close ties with the Civil War, some people pass over the University’s history in World War II. During WWII, Ole Miss was one of 131 colleges nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program. The V-12 program offered students a path to a Navy Commission. There is also a row of trees planted on the street leading up to Paris-Yates in memory of Ole Miss students’ sacrifice during the war.
9. Why is the Old Train Depot still standing in the commuter lot?
Once a hub of activity for Oxford and the University, the Old Train Depot was a passenger depot for the Illinois Central Railroad-the main connector between Chicago to New Orleans. (Unconfirmed Fact: This used to be how fraternities got to spring formals.) This often looked over building in the back corner of the Ford Center Parking lot was designated as a Mississippi Landmark, the highest honor Mississippi can deem a property. While trains stopped coming in 1941, the property was recently remodeled as meeting location for both the Oxford and Ole Miss community.
10. RIP Union Subway.
Out of 24,000 subways in the nation, the Ole Miss Union Subway was the 12th highest earner. Unfortunately, due to the Union closure and changes in sanity of the Union Director, the Subway has been closed forever. This sandwich-chip-combo powerhouse will no longer be a member of the Ole Miss family, as it will be replaced by a McAlister’s Deli.