Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2012

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Geography and Geology

First Advisor

Jeffrey C. Kaufmann

Second Advisor

J. O. Joby Bass

Advisor Department

Anthropology and Sociology


At the Elvis Presley birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi, a sacred, secular pilgrimage is taking place. This study used the categories of myths, symbols, and experiences to understand the perceptions of the pilgrims at the birthplace. Using a combination of interviews and mapping, the themes and data presented show that the area has a clear distinction of sacred space, which was defined by the relics in the spaces that Elvis physically interacted with. The pilgrim related to these symbols through strong, varied mythological content. A mapping component illustrated the international spatial distribution of pilgrims to the birthplace and confirms that it is an international pilgrimage site. This research agrees with previous studies to show that Elvis Presley was a multi-faceted celebrity who connected to all different types of people with multiple characteristics.