605 Elm Street, Columbia, MO 65201

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Join us at the Center for Missouri Studies on August 25 for the opening reception of Mr. Pruitt’s Possum Town with curator Dr. Berkley Hudson, professor emeritus at the Missouri School of Journalism.

On display through November 5, 2022, Mr. Pruitt’s Possum Town presents a selection of photographs by Otis Noel Pruitt, a white photographer who documented life from 1920-1960 in the segregated town of Columbus, Mississippi–known locally as "Possum Town." Frequently photographing his fellow community members and neighbors, Pruitt became the de facto documentarian for Lowndes County in the mid-twentieth century.

Now archived at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill's Wilson Library, Pruitt's work comprises more than 90,000 photographs ranging in composition from formal studio portraits to candidly captured moments. His subject matter also varies from joyous celebrations of birth and holiday to mundane documentation of civic life to the horrific depiction of a lynching. Per the University of North Carolina Press, "Pruitt’s documentary of a specific yet representative southern town offers viewers today an invitation to meditate on the interrelations of photography, community, race, and historical memory."

The exhibition is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities and presented in partnership with the Missouri School of Journalism. A limited number of the book O. N. Pruitt's Possum Town by Berkley Hudson will be available for purchase and signing.

Note to visitors: this exhibition contains some images that are sensitive or offensive. Screens have been installed to give visitors control over the choice to view these images.

Image: Photo by O.N. Pruitt. Courtesy of the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries.

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