Date of Award


Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Academic Program

History BA



First Advisor

Kevin Greene, Ph.D.

Advisor Department



This thesis argues that The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) consciously chooses to present historical narratives in its history in ways that best enhance the university’s image. Examining the narratives of M.M. Roberts and Oseola McCarty using the theoretical frameworks of public memory and collective memory study reveals that the way they are memorialized within university history include both conscious and subconscious silences that impact how they are remembered by the public. This thesis identifies gaps within these two historical narratives and shows how these gaps were influenced by factors designed to enhance the university’s public image. Overall, the public memory framework that is used in this work can be applied to the examination of historical narratives at other universities in the South and can enhance conversations surrounding the preservation and exposition of historical narratives that advance uncomfortable histories linked to white supremacy, racism, and discrimination on these campuses. Overall, this thesis challenges current interpretations of USM history and advocates for deep investigations that incorporate public memory analysis.