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Zed Houston Burns Collection

Identifier: M26

Scope and Contents

This collection consists chiefly of photocopies of the notes of M. James Stevens which Dr. Burns used to write his M.A. thesis at the University of Southern Mississippi. The thesis was later published as Ship Island and the Confederacy (Hattiesburg, 1971). Most of the Stevens notes are typed, although some are handwritten. These notes cover the history of Ship Island and its importance to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, from information concerning the area's native population and French colonization to twentieth-century efforts to preserve Fort Massachusetts on the western tip of the island.

The primary focus of the Stevens notes, however, is the various roles which Ship Island played in the American Civil War: Confederate coastal defense, Union blockading port and amphibious staging area, and Union prison Camp. A great deal of information concerning naval engagements in Mississippi Sound is included.

Sources for the notes are varied. Much of the material, both primary and secondary, is transcribed from published sources, such as Dunbar Rowland's "History of Mississippi and Kate: The Journal of a Confederate Nurse" by Kate Cummings. Two short, non-scholarly works, "A Prisoner's Own Story" by Alexander Walker and "Camp Fires of Ship Island" by Luther Maples, are included in their entireties.

Filed with the Stevens notes are also several newspaper clippings concerning Ship Island in the twentieth century. A number of photocopies of Civil War era illustrations from "Harper's Weekly" are included. Some nineteenth-century navigational charts of Ship Island and environs from the Library of Congress, in both positive and negative photostatic forms, are filed separately.

No materials from Dr. Burns's "Confederate Forts" (Natchez, 1977) are included in the collection, unless the overlapping coverage from "Ship Island and the Confederacy" is to be considered.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within circa 1699-1968

Conditions Governing Access

Noncirculating; available for research.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical / Historical

Dr. Zed Houston Burns was born on November 3, 1903 in St. Paul, Minnesota. He earned a B.A. in architecture from Auburn University in 1927; he earned an M.A. in the same field from Auburn in 1929. He earned the Ed.D. from the University of Cincinnati in 1937. Dr. Burns designed the science building at Appalachian State University in 1938, but the chief focus of his long career was teaching.

Dr. Burns was an Associate Professor of Education at Appalachian State from 1937 to 1941. He then taught at Clemson University from 1941 to 1946 as a Professor of Industrial Education. During this time (1943-1945), Dr. Burns also served in the United States Army Air Force, retiring with the rank of Major. From 1946 until 1948, he worked as an appraiser for the Veterans Guild Center in Auburn, Alabama. Thereafter, Dr. Burns was a Professor of Education at the Mississippi University for Women for one year before assuming the position of Academic Dean of Shorter College in Rome, Georgia from 1949 to 1950.

In 1950, Dr. Burns moved to Hattiesburg, where he would reside for the rest of his life. He served as Head of the Department of Psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi from 1950 to 1956, he served as Chairman of University of Southern Mississippi's Department of Industrial Arts from 1956 to 1968, and he taught at Southern Mississippi from 1968 to 1973 as a Professor of Educational Psychology. He retired as a Professor Emeritus of Psychology in 1973.

Even while educating others, Dr. Burns continued his own education. In 1970, he earned an M.A. in history from Southern Mississippi,where he also earned a Master's of Philosophy in English in 1982. After retiring from teaching at Southern Mississippi, Dr. Burns continued to contribute to the field of higher education. He served as the head of the Psychology Department at Whitworth College in Brookhaven, Mississippi from 1974-1976, and as Professor of History at Patrick Henry Junior College in Gilbertown, Alabama from 1982 to 1984.

Dr. Burns always had a strong interest in history, especially the history of the American Civil War. He was an active member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Southern Historical Association, and the Mississippi Historical Society, as well as the Sons of the American Revolution. His thesis for the history M.A., "Ship Island and the Confederacy", was published in 1971; he also published Confederate Forts in 1977.

After a long career of service in education and scholarship, Dr. Burns passed away on November 27, 1987, at his home in Hattiesburg.


.25 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



The collection is organized in nine folders, as follows:

1. Ship Island and Early Gulf Coast Settlement

2. Ship Island and Early Mississippi Statehood

3. Ship Island--Naval and Coastal Engagements

4. Ship Island--Confederate Occupation, January-September 1861

5. Ship Island--Union Occupation, 1861-1863

6. Ship Island--Union Prison Camp, 1863-1865

7. Ship Island--Post Civil War

8. Ship Island--Nineteenth-Century Navigational Charts

9. Civil War in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama

*NOTE: Folders 10 - 18 contain acid-free photocopies of the documents in Folders 1 - 9. Some documents have been re-typed, in order to make them more readable.


Donated by Zed Burns in September 1977.

Related Materials

M. James Stevens Collection, AM88-8


Copies of Ship Island and the Confederacy are available in the Cook, McCain, and Cox Libraries, call number E470.7 .B8.

Copies of Confederate Forts are available in the Cook, McCain, and Cox Libraries, call number E470.6 .B87x.

Zed H. Burns Collection
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Repository Details

Part of the Historical Manuscripts and Photographs Repository

118 College Drive - 5148
Hattiesburg MS 39406-0001