The Great Depression and Religion in Mississippi Lesson Plan


The widespread suffering caused by the Great Depression rendered religious agencies in Mississippi unable to help those in need. As the income of workers fell by 40 to 60 percent, donations traditionally used to fund religious aid for those trapped at the bottom of society also plummeted. Most religious leaders and agencies in Mississippi called for and subsequently welcomed the various social aid programs created by President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.

The Great Depression and Religion in Mississippi

Theme and Time Period

“Dear Rev. Bishop,” wrote Kate Abraham of Greenwood in March 1933, “I lost everything I that I own the house which I live in caught a fire.” A member of the town’s small Syrian Catholic community, Abraham had exhausted every local option in her search for help. “I haven’t got nothing to eat and nobody help me, my husband have been dead eleven years,” she said. Abraham asked the bishop for “anything that you will do to help me,” and pled again, “me and my son is starving to death, my son have to go to school without breakfast and dinner.”

Vietnamese in Mississippi

Theme and Time Period

Colonialism and wars, particularly the Vietnam War of the 1960s and 1970s, displaced many Vietnamese from their Asian homeland. The Vietnamese are among the most recent groups of immigrants to settle in Mississippi, which is home to many ethnic groups. 

Vietnamese in Mississippi Lesson Plan


The Vietnamese are one of many ethnic groups that migrated to the United States. It was the similarities between Vietnam and Mississippi, especially the coastal area, that lured this group to become a part of Mississippi’s cultural landscape. Today, generations of Vietnamese families have not only embraced the communities in which they have settled, but they have made significant economic and cultural contributions to the local communities.

Italians in Mississippi Lesson Plan


Much of the story of Mississippi’s people, both past and present, has focused on, as Willie Morris writes, her two great blood sources: Great Britain and West Africa. (Morris, My Mississippi , p. 36)   However, it is both short-sighted and historically incorrect to ignore the influences of other smaller ethnic groups in the state’s development.  The Italians comprise one such group.  In this lesson, students will study how and why the Italians came to Mississippi.  They will discover unique aspects of the Italian heritage and their contributions to the state’s culture.

Religion in Mississippi

Theme and Time Period

In the 1600s, Colonial French settlers brought Christianity into the lands that are now the state of Mississippi. Throughout the period of French rule and the period of Spanish dominion that followed, Roman Catholicism was the principal religion.

Jews in Mississippi

Theme and Time Period

Jews have always been a small minority of Mississippi’s population, yet over the centuries they have forged communities in the state and preserved their religious traditions.

Their religious traditions go far back into world history. The history of the Jews began with Abraham, the founder of the Jewish religion in Hebron, twenty miles south of Jerusalem in the Judaean hills. The Jews created an identity earlier than most other people — more than 4,000 years ago — and that identity still survives. Jews first arrived in North America in 1654.

Italians in Mississippi

Theme and Time Period

Italian families have been found in cities and small towns throughout Mississippi since the 19th century. Their story of coming to America shows the obstacles that immigrants to Mississippi faced in assimilating to the broader society and their achievements along the way.

The Mississippi River towns

The first Italians came to Mississippi as part of explorations the French and Spanish governments conducted in the Mississippi River Valley. They were part of Hernando DeSoto’s expedition in the 1540s, and Berardo Peloso was the first European to see Pascagoula Bay in 1558.

Gideon Lincecum (1793-1874): Mississippi Pioneer and Man of Many Talents

Theme and Time Period

Gideon Lincecum moved to Mississippi in 1818. He brought his family, which included his wife Sarah Bryan, two small children, his parents, some siblings, and a few enslaved African-Americans. They settled initially along the Tombigbee River and helped establish the town of Columbus, Mississippi.

The Lincecums were part of the hundreds of other new settlers traveling west from the Carolinas, Georgia, and Alabama during the first two decades of the 19th century. The number of Americans moving west then was so great that historians refer to the movement as the Great Migration.