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Finding Aid for the Martha Alice Stewart: Time on Parchman Farm Collection



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Summary Information

University of Mississippi Libraries
Stewart, Martha Alice
Martha Alice Stewart: Time on Parchman Farm Collection
Date [bulk]
Bulk, 1926-1939
Date [inclusive]
0.834 Linear feet (2 boxes and 1 oversize item)
Language of Materials
Martha Alice Stewart was head nurse at Mississippi State Penitentiary, commonly known as Parchman Farm, in the 1930s. The collection contains documents related to the prison as well as personal and professional documents of Stewart, and 210 black-and-white photographs taken during Stewart's tenure at the prison.

Preferred Citation

Martha Alice Stewart: Time on Parchman Farm Collection (MUM01772), Archives and Special Collections, J.D. Williams Library, The University of Mississippi

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Biographical/Historical Note

About Martha Alice Stewart

Martha Alice Stewart was born 20 February 1898 in northeast Mississippi, the third of eight children. Fortunate enough to receive education beyond the secondary level, Stewart completed her nurse's training in 1925 and was appointed as a graduate nurse at a veterans' hospital in Memphis, Tenn. Later that year she assumed a similar post at a hospital in Outwood, Ky., which she held until April 1926. She then took a post at Gartley & Ramsay Hospital, a private psychiatric hospital in Memphis.

Stewart served as head nurse at Parchman Farm from 1930 to 1940. Although she stood only 5'2" tall, Stewart had a reputation for being tough and competent. Dr. J.D. Biles Jr., former “Doctor-in-charge” at Parchman, wrote a letter on 29 December 1939 to Governor-elect Paul B. Johnson in support of Stewart’s remaining at Parchman as head nurse. However, the incoming governor did not grant Biles’s request, and Stewart returned to Northeast Mississippi by May of 1940.

(Information provided by Dr. E. Kate Stewart, Professor of English, University of Arkansas at Monticello)

About Parchman Farm

Located in Sunflower County, Miss., Mississippi State Penitentiary (commonly known as Parchman Farm) was founded in 1901 with just four stockades. The prison was intended to be a self-sustaining and profit-making farm, with prisoners performing farm labor. This plan was a successful one--in 1905, the prison turned a profit of $185,000.

Originally housing only African-American inmates, by the 1910s Parchman Farm was home to both African Americans and whites. Juveniles as well as adults were housed at the prison. Many accounts have been written detailing the abuse of prisoners and brutal conditions at Parchman Farm.

Please see "Related Materials" for titles of related books held in the University of Mississippi's Archives and Special Collections department.

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Scope and Content

The collection contains documents related to Parchman Farm as well as personal and professional documents of Martha Alice Stewart, and 210 black-and-white photographs taken during Stewart's tenure at the prison.

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This collection is arranged by format in two series, then by subject within each series.

Series 1:
Series 2:

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

University of Mississippi Libraries January 2013

Access Restrictions

The Martha Alice Stewart: Time on Parchman Farm Collection is open for research. The photographs in this collection are stored at an off-site facility. Researchers interested in using this collection must contact Archives and Special Collections at least two business days in advance of their planned visit. However, researchers are strongly encouraged to use the digitized photographs.

Copyright Restrictions

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship or research." If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," that user may be liable for copyright infringement.


No further additions are expected to this collection.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Bryan King, Catherine King, and Kate Stewart, 2012

Processing Information

Collection processed by Pamela Williamson, 2012. Finding aid created by Kathryn Michaelis, January 2013.

Alternative Formats

This collection has been digitized and is available online.

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Related Materials

Resources at the University of Mississippi

Down on Parchman Farm: The Great Prison in the Mississippi Delta. By William Banks Taylor. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1999. Call number: HV9475.M7 T394 1999

Worse than slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice. By David M. Oshinsky. New York: Free Press, 1996. Call number: HV9475.M72 M576 1996

For more materials related to Parchman Farm, please see the Archives' Criminal Justice and Parchman Penitentiary Subject Guide.

Separated Material

For preservation purposes, photographs have been moved to collection photographs box (CPB)102.

A nursing textbook belonging to Martha Alice Stewart, Modern methods in nursing by Georgiana J. Sanders (Philadelphia and London: W. B. Saunders Company, 1922), has been separated and cataloged. Call number: RT41.S3 1924

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Mississippi State Penitentiary


  • black-and-white photographs
  • certificates
  • correspondence
  • envelopes

Geographic Name(s)

  • Parchman (Miss.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Bilbo, Theodore Gilmore, 1877-1947
  • Conner, Martin Sennett, 1891-1950
  • White, Hugh L. (Hugh Lawson), 1881-1965


  • Agriculture -- Mississippi
  • Black-and-white photography -- Mississippi
  • Cotton growing -- Mississippi
  • Prison nurses

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Collection Inventory

Series 1: Manuscripts 

 1.1-1.2 Typhoid fever diet (appears to be from nursing school), circa 1922-1925 

Scope and Contents note

14 items

 1.3.1 Christmas dinner, veterans hospital, Outwood, Ky., 1925 

 1.3.2 Letters from H. F. “Frank” Belser, Outwood VA Hospital, January-February 1926, May 1926 

Scope and Contents note

30 items

 1.4 Fan with pencil sketch of Martha Alice Stewart (broken in two), 1930 

 1.5 Miscellaneous letters and cards 

Scope and Contents note

9 items

 1.6.1 Appointment to VA Hospital, Memphis, 22 July 1925 

 1.6.2 Civil Service Commission, initial response to application with envelope, 5 August 1925 

Scope and Contents note

2 items

 1.6.3 Civil Service Report, 22 September 1925 

 1.6.4 Appointment to VA Hospital, Memphis, 16 October 1925, 12 April 1926 

 1.6.5 Letter from former inmate at Parchman, 17 August 1938 

 1.6.6 Letter from W. E. Wiggins, 25 August 1937 

 1.6.7 Letter to Governor-elect Paul B. Johnson, Sr., 29 December 1939 

 1.7.1 Postcard sent to Outwood, Ky., 1926 

 1.7.2 Envelope, now empty, allegedly contained teeth, 1 January 1928 

 1.8.1 Letter written at Gartley-Ramsay Hospital, Memphis, circa 1927-1930 

 1.8.2 Card to Kate McBryde Stewart, 10 May 1929 

 1.8.3 Funeral card - family of the late Thaddeus Cannon, 16 October 1932 

 1.9-1.11 Personal letters sent to Parchman, 1930-1939 

Scope and Contents note

13 items

 1.12.1 Martha Alice Stewart’s nursing certificate, 11 March 1914 

 1.12.2 Certificate for pin, undated 

 1.12.3 Letter enclosing certificate, undated 

 1.12.4 Application for Membership to the Mississippi State Nurses’ Association, undated 

 1.13.1 Martha Alice Stewart Cards, undated 

Scope and Contents note

5 items

 1.13.2 Martha Alice Stewart obituary, undated 

 1.14-1.45 Correspondence from H. F. Belber (Frank) to Martha Alice Stewart , February–June 1926 

Scope and Contents note

32 letters

 1.46 Empty envelopes, April–May 1926 

Scope and Contents note

3 items

 2.1 (OVRS) Nursing school diploma, Martha Alice Stewart, 1925 

Scope and Contents note


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Series 2: Photographs 

Subseries 2.1: Farming/Livestock Prisoners cleaning ditch bank Filling water jugs for prisoners 

 102.1.2 Prisoners picking cotton 

 102.1.3 Prisoners stacking cotton 

 102.1.4 Prisoners picking cotton 

 102.1.5 Prisoners hoeing cotton Prisoners lining up to go to work hoeing cotton Prisoners outside barracks 

 102.1.7 Prison Supervisor on tractor Prisoners loading hay wagons Prison quarter Prison barracks Prisoners hoeing weeds in cotton field Prison cook staff and trustees Prisoners picking cotton in large field 

 102.2.1 Prisoners bringing full cotton sacks to the gin 

 102.2.2 Prison staff loading supplies 

 102.2.3 Prisoners plowing field 

 102.2.4 Prisoners taking truck and trailer load of cotton to gin 

 102.2.5 Prisoners meeting the water wagon Harvesting corn Work crew cleaning ditch bank Prisoners going to work in the fields Large prison barracks Workers and prisoners harvesting crops Large prisoner work crew ready to go to work 

 102.2.9 Water wagons Livestock barn on the penitentiary Prisoners dumping cotton sacks Prisoners pulling cart Guard station in cotton field 

 102.3.2 Mule teams and handlers 

 102.3.3 Mule team ready for inspection 

 102.3.4 Mule teams being inspected 

 102.3.5 Mule team inspection completed 

 102.3.6 Mule teams line up after inspection 

 102.3.7 Cotton field being picked 

 102.3.8 Cotton field ready to be picked 

 102.3.9 Cotton field after early planting 

 102.3.10 Corn field 

 102.4.1 Prisoners picking cotton 

 102.4.2 Large hay stacks 

 102.4.3 Partially harvested corn field 

 102.4.4 Corn field early crop 

 102.4.5 Corn field skip rowed with soy beans 

 102.4.6 Corn shocks after harvest Large bull Hogs feeding in field 

 102.4.8 Upset bull 

 102.4.9 Hogs at the feed trough 

Scope and Content

2 photographs

 102.5.1 Large hog 

 102.5.2 Cleaning hogs Slaughtered and dressed hogs Large hog and handlers 

 102.5.4 Mule team pulling cotton wagon 

 102.5.5 Combining corn Parchman prison church Baling hay 

 102.5.7 Mules and prisoners plowing fields 

 102.5.8 Mule teams line up after inspection 

 102.5.9 Slaughtered hogs and mule team 

Subseries 2.2: Locust Blight 

 102.6.1 Locust devouring corn stalk 

 102.6.2 Locust on plant 

 102.6.3 Corn field after locust passed through 

 102.6.4 Plant stalk after locust passed through 

 102.6.5 Plant stalk after locust passed through Cotton field after locust passed through Corn field just prior to locust attack 

 102.6.7 Unidentified field after locust attack 

 102.6.8 Inspecting locust damage 

Subseries 2.3: Pap Tabor Newspaper article on Pap Tabor Early picture when Tabor first went to Parchman Tabor reading paper Tabor in suit in potato field Tabor with pumpkin Tabor in field Tabor in his room Tabor in front of barracks Tabor with birthday cake Warden’s house 

 102.7.5 Birthday party (Tabor, 5th from the end on right) 

Subseries 2.4: Snow Scenes 

 102.8.1 Infirmary snow covered 

 102.8.2 Office building snow covered Grounds covered with snow Ice on vegetation on grounds 

 102.8.4 Main building and grounds with snow 

 102.8.5 Infirmary snow covered 

 102.8.6 Infirmary staff during snow fall (Alice Stewart, left) 

 102.8.7 Residence building in snowfall 

Subseries 2.5: Parchman Infirmary 

 102.9.1 Nurse in treatment area 

 102.9.2 Nurse in lab area 

 102.9.3 Infirmary nurses (Alice Stewart, right) 

 102.9.4 Nurse outside infirmary 

 102.9.5 Doctor, nurse and unidentified woman outside infirmary 

 102.9.6 Nurses outside infirmary (Alice Stewart, back left) 

 102.9.7 Unidentified boy outside infirmary 

 102.9.8 Doctor and nurses in operating room (Alice Stewart, 2nd from right) 

 102.9.9 Doctors and nurses in infirmary ward 

 102.9.10 Infirmary medicine locker Infirmary ward Infirmary secure ward Infirmary ward Dining hall 

 102.10.3 Doctors and nurses in infirmary ward 

 102.10.4 Nurse in treatment area 

 102.10.5 Doctor in lab 

 102.10.6 Doctor and nurses in operating room (Alice Stewart, right) 

 102.10.7 Alice Stewart applying anesthetic, female warden looks on 

 102.10.8 Nurse with child born at Parchman 

 102.10.9 Doctors, nurses, and trustees in infirmary ward 

Subseries 2.6: Prison Staff 

 102.11.1 Warden 

 102.11.2 Warden 

 102.11.3 Staff members 

 102.11.4 Head guard 

 102.11.5 Nurse 

 102.11.6 Funeral on prison grounds 

 102.11.7 Staff children in swimming pool (Alice Stewart’s niece, right) 

 102.11.8 Visitors (John Stewart, Alice Stewart’s brother, right) 

 102.11.9 Hospital staff (Alice Stewart, far right) 

 102.12.1 Unknown staff member 

 102.12.2 Staff playing tennis 

 102.12.3 Hospital nurses (Alice Stewart, center) 

 102.12.4 Unknown nurse 

 102.12.5 Nurse Alice Stewart and her brother, John Stewart 

 102.12.6 Nurses (Alice Stewart, left) 

 102.12.7 Nurse Alice Stewart and her brother John Stewart 

 102.12.8 Hospital staff (Alice Stewart, far right) 

 102.12.9 Unknown staff 

 102.12.10 Staff children in swimming pool 

 102.12.11 Unidentified prison nurse 

 102.12.12 Female visitor on guard tower 

 102.13.1 Unknown male staff member 

 102.13.2 Unknown male staff member 

 102.13.3 Children at pool (Alice Stewart, far right, with her niece Martha Ruth Mauney) 

 102.13.4 Staff children in swimming pool 

 102.13.5 Visitors (John Stewart, Alice Stewart’s brother on right) 

 102.13.6 Hospital nurses (Alice Stewart on left) 

 102.13.7 Parchman staff (Alice Stewart, 6th from the end, left) Parchman staff living quarters Staff and trustees 

 102.14.1 Unidentified male staff member 

 102.14.2 Children in pool 

 102.14.3 Parchman staff (Alice Stewart, 6th from the end, left) 

 102.14.4 Parchman nurses in cotton field 

 102.14.5 Unidentified nurse with cats 

 102.14.6 Nurse Alice Stewart and her brother John Stewart 

Subseries 2.7: Miscellaneous 

 102.15.1 Day’s catch ready to be cleaned and cooked 

 102.15.2 Mules ready for sale 

 102.15.3 Mules ready for sale 

 102.15.4 Wardens with juvenile prisoners Confiscated hand guns Kitchen staff and trustees Horsemen touring the penal farm Staff trustees 

 102.15.7 Kitchen trustees 

 102.15.8 Prisoners waiting to load/ unload train 

 102.15.9 Juvenile prisoners Mule team pulling road grader Prison guards 

 102.15.11 Four prison trustees Prison shoe shop Overseer in cotton field Prison garment repair shop German Police guard dog Group of white prisoners in infirmary ward Unidentified staff living quarters 

 102.16.4 African-American trustee guards 

 102.16.5 Two prisoners in large comical pants 

 102.16.6 Prison staff and juvenile prisoner 

 102.16.7 Prison band Mess of fish caught by prisoners for food Large prisoner barracks 

Subseries 2.8: Buildings and Grounds 

 102.17.1 Prisoner barracks 

 102.17.2 Prison infirmary 

 102.17.3 Prison infirmary with cars in front 

 102.17.4 Dining Hall Prison barracks and grounds Prison wash house Barracks with prisoners out front Orchard and grounds 

 102.17.7 Back of prison infirmary 

 102.17.8 Barracks with prison guards and small children 

 102.17.9 Staff living quarters with garden 

 102.18.1 Barracks and grounds 

 102.18.2 Debris and building being torn down 

 102.18.3 Barracks, water tank, and grounds 

 102.18.4 Main guard station 

 102.18.5 Prison cotton gin 

 102.18.6 Sheds and boat dock (believed to be on Sunflower River) 

 102.18.7 Unidentified building with loading dock and radio tower 

 102.18.8 Guard station 

 102.18.9 Weigh station at railroad depot 

 102.18.10 Staff house with female, dogs, and trustees 

 102.18.11 Rear view of staff living quarters 

 102.19.1 Close-up of staff house, female, dogs, and trustees 

 102.19.2 Front view of warden’s house 

 102.19.3 Staff living quarters and grounds 

 102.19.4 Prison camp shrubbery 

Subseries 2.9: Personal Photographs 

 102.20 Martha Alice Stewart 

Scope and Contents note

10 photographs

 102.21 Unidentified 

Scope and Contents note

2 photographs

 102.22 Martha Alice Stewart and others (prison staff) 

Scope and Contents note

6 photographs

 102.23 Martha Alice Stewart 

Scope and Contents note

5 photographs

 102.24 Infirmary Staff and Martha Alice Stewart 

Scope and Contents note

5 photographs

 102.25 Infirmary Staff, Martha Alice Stewart and gentleman with dog 

Scope and Contents note

6 photographs

 102.26 Children in pool at Parchman and miscellaneous photographs 

Scope and Contents note

5 photographs

 102.27 Thomas A. Stewart/John A. McBryde families cabinet card, circa 1895 

 102.28 Thomas A. Stewart family, summer cabinet card, circa 1910 

 102.29 Chalybeate School photograph, circa 1915-1920 

 102.30 Nursing school graduation class, 1925 

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