Fri 04/06/2021 – 4:41 PM | By: David Tisdale
University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Gulf Park History Professor Deanne Stephens tells the story of Mississippi’s world-famous seafood in her recent publication, The Mississippi Gulf Coast Seafood Industry: A People’s History, based on nearly 20 years of research which includes its discussions with local people about their love for water and their way of life.
Inspired by the seafood culture of Biloxi Point, the Port of Pass Christian and other places along the coast where she learned first-hand from the experiences of those working in the industry, Dr. Stephens presents “the contributions of all the people who have worked the seafood industry along the Mississippi coast,” which includes waves of immigrants and others who have helped make it the vibrant economic force that continues to help feed the entire coastal region.
“This point is important because all those who have worked in the industry, from pickers and hullers to fishermen to owners of processing plants, have all contributed and supported through the hardships and the good times”, she continued. “Their efforts have created a vibrant industry that has sustained generations and still draws people to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”
Over the past two decades, Dr. Stephens has spoken often to people like Ellison Hebert, who “told wonderful stories about her family coming from Louisiana and working in the seafood industry” and on the docks, where she was visiting the shrimp fishermen. boats or talking to men who have just harvested oysters. “The Gollott family also embraced my research and shared their family history, as have members of the Dubaz family,” Dr. Stephens said. “Their collective stories and many more told the story of hard work and persistence.”
Dr. Stephens will be available to discuss and sign The Mississippi Gulf Coast Seafood Industry: A People’s History at a book launch on Thursday, June 10 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum, located at 115 East 1st St. in Biloxi. . This event is co-sponsored by the USM Center for the Study of the Gulf South, the City of Biloxi and Main Street Biloxi; copies of the book will be available for purchase.
A faculty member in the USM History program since 2000, Dr. Stephens’ areas of expertise include Mississippi history; medical background; southern history; and women in American history. For more information on USM’s History program, which is hosted at the School of Humanities at USM College of Arts and Sciences, visit https://www.usm.edu/humanities/index .php.