Since 2005, the Museum Division of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History decorates the lobby of our main Archives building with Christmas trees from Mississippi's past. This year we have three trees representing Antebellum (pre-Civil War), Victorian, and Depression Mississippi. Today the Antebellum tree is showcased. The others will have their "moment in the sun" over the next two days.
These trees are decorated with original or replica period decorations. The toys and gifts are also original period pieces from the Museum's collections.
[Please click on picture for a larger image.]
The placard reads: "The Christmas tree, introduced into England in 1841 by Queen Victoria's German consort Prince Albert, began to appear in Mississippi homes about 1850. The earliest documentation is in the 1851 diary of a Vicksburg housewife who wrote of her family's first Christmas tree. Early trees were decorated with handmade ornaments made from readily available materials. They included yarn and cornshuck dolls, quilted snowflakes, and candles. The doll Rebecca Saunders Gage (ca. 1850), with a wax head and clothed in pantaloons and dress, has been a favorite of museum visitors since the early 1970s."
Before 2005, these trees graced our Old State Capitol Building, constructed in the 1830s. But Hurricane Katrina forced us to move them into the Winter Archives Building, where they have been every Christmas since.
And as a personal note, my wife still makes crocheted snowflakes that we use on our family tree each year.