Mossville History Project
Size: 59 interviews on 77 recordings
Time period covered: 1940s-1990s
Dates of interviews: 2015-2017
Principle Interviewers: Chelsea Arseneault, Jennifer Cramer, Jamie Digilormo, Stephanie Dragoon, Rebecca Cooper, Douglas Mungin, Teresha Ussin, Elizabeth Gelvin, Kathleen Donner
Finding Aids: Abstracts
Audio Availability: MP3
Access Restrictions: See individual abstracts
Description: This project is a collaboration between the Imperial Calcasieu Museum and LSU Libraries to document the history of Mossville, a historic African American community in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana. Many Mossville residents today are descendants of families who settled in what was known as "Shoat’s Prairie" until 1916, when it was renamed Mossville after James Moss, a descendant of the original settlers. Many Mossville residents today are descendants of original families, yet they have been largely absent from any written or oral records. Adjacent to Lake Charles, Sulphur, and numerous industries, this community has been the focus of much media attention in relation to environmental justice issues, especially since the ‘90s.
In 2015, Sasol, a chemical company out of South Africa, provided a grant to the Imperial Calcasieu Museum, who partnered with the Center, with the aim to capture, record, preserve, and make available the written and oral history of the people and community of Mossville. By 2017, the majority of Mossville residents relocated due to property buy-outs, and the landscape of the area continues to evolve as the Mossville community members face an uncertain future.
In addition to sharing family histories, interviewees discuss their upbringing, home remedies, the importance of religion, education, and athletics, local leaders and politics, gardening, raising livestock, integration, and what Mossville means to them personally. Other topics discussed include the impact of industrialization, segregation, property buyouts, water contamination, and environmental justice. Most interviewees were raised in Mossville, but several grew up elsewhere and they offer a unique perspective of Mossville’s place in history.
Joseph and Kathy Charles
Rose Charles (feat. children Joseph, Wayne and Kathy)
Edward Julia Lemelle Gordwin
Mildred Calvin Guidry
Larry and Wilson Payne et al. (Joseph, Larry, Barbara, Wilson)
Hyperlinked interviews are available for access/duplication through Public Services.
Unlinked interviews are unprocessed.
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