Skip to main content

Alma Hickman Papers

Identifier: M98

Scope and Contents

The Alma Hickman Papers are a fascinating group of materials that document the life and career of one of the University of Southern Mississippi’s first faculty members. The collection provides information on the educational system in Mississippi during the years Hickman taught, as well as information on the early days of the university. It also documents the many awards and honors Hickman received throughout her career, and includes some of her personal items such as her Bible.


  • Creation: Circa 1877-1991
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1950s-1960s


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

Miss Alma Hickman was born on July 4, 1887 in Stone County, Mississippi. She was the seventh of nine children born to Mr. and Mrs. Rankin J. Hickman. She grew up in Stone County and enjoyed the piney woods that covered the area. From early on, Hickman loved reading. Her father made a deal with her to provide her with an education if she never married. She was not able to promise him that she would never marry, but she, in fact, never did.

Hickman attended primary school in Stone County, and later earned a BA from the Industrial Institute and College (now Mississippi University for Women). She also earned a Ph.B from the University of Chicago and an MA from Columbia University. She also taught for several years in the schools of Stone County.

Hickman was among the first faculty members at the University of Southern Mississippi, when it opened as Mississippi Normal College in 1912. She taught English at the school until she retired. She prided herself on educating young people, and even went so far as to provide both financial assistance and lodging at her home for struggling students.

Hickman was involved in many activities at the university. She served as a sponsor to both the Debate Club and the Dramatics Club and faculty advisor to the Mississippian Literary Society. She was also active in the Hattiesburg branch of the American Association of University Women, Delta Gamma Education Sorority, and was a life member of the Mississippi Education Association (MEA). She served as MEA’s president from 1936 to 1937 and the Harvard Educational Review printed her presidential address in its 1938 issue. Hickman also wrote three pageants, Neka Camon (“New Spirit”), A Masque, and Mississippi, at least two of which were performed on the University of Southern Mississippi campus.

Hickman championed a number of worthwhile causes. In the 1940s and 1950s, she served on the State Eleemosynary Board, where she made reforms affecting Columbia Training School and Ellisville State School. In the 1950’s she fought a constitutional amendment to allow the Governor to close the public schools if he felt it was necessary. She was also credited with helping to establish the Hattiesburg public library, and in 1950 she became the first woman to receive the Hattiesburg Junior Chamber of Commerce “Citizen of the Year” award, in recognition of her work on the Hattiesburg Library Board.

In 1953, a new senior girls' dormitory was named Alma Hickman Hall, and in 1961 a scholarship was established in her honor. In honor of her many accomplishments, she was dubbed “The First Lady of Education in Mississippi” by former governor J. P. Coleman.

Hickman retired in 1954 as Professor Emerita of English. In the ensuing years, she spent much of her time compiling information for a history of the University of Southern Mississippi dating from 1912 to 1954. Her work, Southern As I Saw It, was published in 1966.

Alma Hickman died on February 12, 1971 at the age of 83. She is interred in Hickman-Hester Cemetery near Wiggins, Mississippi. Upon her death, the Mississippi State Senate passed a resolution in her honor.


Arnold, Yvonne. "Miss Alma Hickman: From Daughter of the Pines to First Lady of Education." The Talon. Southern Miss Alumni Association (Summer 2003)

Case File

Contents of the Collection


2.35 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials in this collection were donated in 1979 and 1996 by Mrs. Esther Evans and Mr. Dan McQuagge.

Related Materials

M438 Carl L. McQuagge Papers

Photograph Log

M98-1 Alma Hickman from her book, Southern as I Saw It 4¾ x 3, B & W, circa 1950s (Box 1, Folder 15)

M98-2 Alma Hickman’s 80th Birthday Party 3½ x 3½, Color, June 29, 1969 (Box 1, Folder 15)

M98-3 Alma Hickman’s 80th Birthday Party 3½ x 3½, Color, June 29, 1969 (Box 4, Item 1)

M98-4 Alma Hickman’s 80th Birthday Party 3½ x 3½, Color, June 29, 1969 (Box 4, Item 1)

M98-5 Alma Hickman 8 x 10, B & W, circa 1950s (Box 1, Folder 15)

M98-6 Alma Hickman with her “Citizen of the Year” award 13 x 10, B & W, circa 1950 (Box 5, Item 2)
Alma Hickman Papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Historical Manuscripts and Photographs Repository

118 College Drive - 5148
Hattiesburg MS 39406-0001