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B.L.C. Wailes, the Natchez District, and the Mississippi Historical Society lesson plan


B.L.C. Wailes’s life was spent in the Natchez District at a formative period in Mississippi’s history. As a young man, he lived through Mississippi’s territorial days and early statehood. His early career, with its myriad jobs, was indicative of his interest in many different things. He spent his life exploring the state’s rich geological environment and preserving its early history. Our knowledge of Mississippi in the early and mid-19th century is much more informed because of the work of B.L.C. Wailes.


Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 1 and 3


Grades 7 through 12 (with modifications)


Mississippi History Now article on B. L. C. Wailes

Markers, construction paper, butcher paper, etc.


The students will:

• Recognize the contributions of B.L.C. Wailes to Mississippi; and,

• Realize the importance of preserving historical documents.


Ask students to think of ways they know about members of their families who lived in previous generations (family trees, diaries, letters, stories). Let them talk about how we know about the state in earlier periods of time. Encourage them to think about materials and documents that would be needed to gain an accurate view of how Mississippi was in another era. Tell them that they will learn about an individual whose work provides information about Mississippi in the 19th century.


1. Students will read the Mississippi History Now article and prepare a graphic organizer on their paper showing the accomplishments and contributions of B.L.C. Wailes. They may wish to use a cluster map with categories such as education, agriculture, geology, paleontology, history, and historical preservation.

2. In small groups, students will participate in a “Mississippi Hall of Fame” simulation. Their task will be to develop a presentation that will result in the acceptance of B.L.C. Wailes into the Hall of Fame. Teacher will engage a “judge” and offer a prize for the winning presentation (bonus points or homework passes, for example). Teacher may wish to prepare a rubric by which to evaluate the exercise.

3. Allow sufficient time for students to work on projects.


Each small group will make their presentation before the judge while all other groups listen. Allow the “listeners” to jot down any questions or concerns they have about each presentation; these will be given to the judge for consideration in the decision-making process.

Announce the winning group and award prize.

Ask students to write letters to the Mississippi Historical Society (B.L.C. Wailes was founder) which will:

  • Relate some of the things they learned about Wailes after studying the Mississippi History Now article and completing their project; and,
  • Indicate their understanding of the importance of preserving historical documents.

Address letters to:

Mississippi Historical Society
Board of Directors
P. O. Box 571
Jackson, MS 39205-0571


  • Completion and accuracy of graphic organizer
  • Group participation
  • Group presentation
  • Letter to Mississippi Historical Society


• Begin a Mississippi Hall of Fame to be posted in your school with B.L.C. Wailes as its inaugural member.

• Research the additional story of the Mississippi Historical Society on the Mississippi History Now website to find out how the Society is helping to preserve the state’s history. (Site accessed November 2010.)

• Determine the connection between the Mississippi Historical Society and the Mississippi History Now website.

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