By Andrea Smalley
The Vicksburg Rotary held their first Showboat in March of 1954, when the advertisers’ phone numbers were only four digits long and Bensley’s Grocery offered delivery of “groceries, fresh meats, and vegetables.” Leafing through the program from that first show offers a fascinating glimpse of Vicksburg in 1954. That program, and the program for each Showboat for the last 60 years are available at the Vicksburg District Library. For those interested in the history of this annual community event, or the history of Vicksburg itself, the Showboat programs are a great way to explore the Vicksburg of the past 60 years and watch it change and grow. The library also has sheet music, a record album, and a replica “Rotary Ann” ship in a bottle for serious Showboat aficionados.
Showboat programs aren’t the only options available at the Vicksburg District Library for digging into the Village’s past. The library’s Heritage Room contains a wealth of information and historic records for those interested in local history and in genealogy. Newspapers such as the Commercial Express from 1879 to 1995 are available on microfilm, as well as the Wolverine Crank, Vicksburg Union, and Leonidas Mirror. Census records from the 1800s detailing the residents of Vicksburg, their occupations and families are also available on microfilm. Those curious about the people of Vicksburg can explore marriage records, obituaries, family charts, scrapbooks of local genealogies, city directories, and copies of the Vicksburg High School Yearbook. Plat maps, atlases, and records of deeds going back over a century demonstrate the Village’s development over time.
Whether it is about the Village’s inception in 1871 or the first Vicksburg Showboat in 1954, the Heritage Room at the Vicksburg District Library has the materials to create an intriguing picture of the people and places that make up Vicksburg, past and present.