Pearl River Community College enjoys a rich heritage and holds a distinctive place in Mississippi's educational history. Founded as Pearl River County Agricultural High School in 1909, a member of the nation's first state-funded agricultural high school system, Pearl River College is the oldest publicly funded two-year institution of higher learning in Mississippi and the 16th oldest in the U.S. It began offering freshman college classes in September of 1921, which led educators and progressive thinkers in Mississippi to seek a two-year system of higher education institutions. Pearl River led the way in the establishment of the nation's first system of state-funded junior colleges in the nation.
Holding the honor of being the state's oldest public community or junior college carries with it the responsibility to tell its history and the history of the people who founded it. The area of Mississippi that birthed this college was populated with people of extreme foresight. It is the fabric that made up these early educators, parents and students that has been woven into the very heart of Pearl River College.
Opening its doors to the county's children on September 8, 1909, Pearl River County Agricultural High School administrators soon saw the need for further educational opportunities for its students, which they did in 1921. By 1925, Sophomore classes were added.
In 1936 Pearl River Junior College and High School added a military curriculum and a Reserve Officer Training Corps unit. It was the nation's first junior college to do so.
It is this dedication to educational excellence that is showcased in the Pearl River Community College Museum.
Arrowheads, spear tips, knives, pottery on loan - Click for larger imageThe museum is housed in the south wing of the 62-year-old Hancock Hall, one of many fine old buildings on campus. It currently occupies the entire south wing of the hall.
Featuring American Indian artifacts along with artifact collections from the school's long past, the museum is a journey into Pearl River College's history. A timeline exhibit outlines the complete history of the Part of athletics display in main room - Click for larger imagecollege and a brief history of the area.
The college's history of athletics is showcased in one area, while the college's music program occupies another. A dorm room demonstrates life on campus in the late 40's and early 50's, while a room is devoted entirely to the founding institution, Pearl River County Agricultural High School.
The Pearl River Community College Museum is a repository for historical artifacts that reflect the history and legacy of Mississippi’s oldest public, two-year institution of higher education and the six-county area that provides financial support for its operation: Forrest, Hancock, Jefferson Davis, Lamar, Marion and Pearl River counties. The mission of the Museum is dedicated to the discovery, preservation, and interpretation of materials and memorabilia related to the institution’s history and the lower Pearl River valley, which it serves. The Museum seeks to provide the institution’s students, employees, alumni, and the general public with factual information regarding the unique history of Pearl River Community College and the history of the supporting district.
Statement of Purpose
- To provide a suitable environment for the preservation and displaying of artifacts owned by or loaned to the museum.
- To record responsibly all objects donated to or loaned to the museum.
- To exhibit artifacts in such a manner as accurately to chronicle the history of Pearl River Community College and the six-county district the college serves.
- To educate the public through exhibits, the media, and any other means at its disposal.
- To conduct interviews, do research, and discover the history of Pearl River County Agricultural High School, Pearl River County Agricultural High School and Junior College, Pearl River Junior College, Pearl River Community College, and the six counties that make up the Pearl River Community College District.
- To work with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, state and local historical societies, and local governments to preserve the historical records and artifacts of Pearl River Community College and its six-county district.