JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Dr. Alferdteen Harrison is a retired history professor and co-founder of the Smith-Robertson Museum in Jackson. “Retired” is the only proper word for her if that means being freed up from work to tackle other projects. Because that’s what she has done. Either she has found them, or as in the case of the Granny Midwives houses, the projects have found her.
“A member of the Scott-Ford family, a descendent, kept coming to me and saying, ‘Dr. Harrison, you have to come back and help us tell this story.’ I said, ‘Mrs. Weir, I’m just here for the weekend. I can’t do that.’ When I came back the next time, she called me and we looked at the houses. She said, ‘Who else can start it?'” ssaid Harrison.
Harrison went from lending a hand to becoming one of the guiding hands in preserving and interpreting the homes of an African American mother and daughter, who were not only midwives in Jackson in the early 20th century, but they were also successful entrepreneurs in the Jackson business community.
A couple of developments have unfolded in the telling the stories of the midwives and the houses. First, Harrison was joined recently by an old friend the weekend that the large exhibition about the houses was unveiled at Smith Robertson Museum. Spencer Crew is a professor at George Mason University, but also met Harrison at a symposium at the Smithsonian on how to accomplish exactly what has been accomplished here, to graphically tell the story and history of a place.
We have to be the keepers of our own history. It’s important that we have that history under our control, so that the memories that go on to the next generation are clear, accurate and reflect all the wonderful things that are a part of our community,’ said Crew.
The story of the Granny Midwives is an integral piece of Mississippi African American history. It’s a story that you can see told in words and pictures now at Smith Roberson Museum.
The museum is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Saturday morning from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and is closed Sunday. It’s located a couple of blocks west of the New Capitol, just off High Street in Downtown Jackson.