1940: Paul B. Johnson becomes Mississippi’s forty-sixth governor

Governor Paul B. Johnson, Sr. (MDAH Collection)
Governor Paul B. Johnson, Sr.

Johnson served from 1940 to 1943.

Link to the catalog

1940: Governor Paul B. Johnson signs free textbook law for grades one through eight

Free Textbook Law Pen
Free Textbook Law Pen

Image:  Governor Paul B. Johnson used this pen to sign the Free Textbook Law.

1940: Jackson College becomes state school

The Mississippi Legislature voted to accept Jackson College as a training school for black teachers, and changed the name to Mississippi Negro Training School.  The name was changed again in 1944 to Jackson College for Negro Teachers, and in 1956 to Jackson State College.

1940: Richard Wright’s Native Son published

Born on a plantation in Roxie, Mississippi, in 1908 Richard Wright went on to write highly acclaimed short stories and novels, including Native Son and Black Boy (1945). Wright died in Paris, France on November 28, 1960.

1940: Construction begins on Arkabutla Lake

The lake was designed as part of a flood control effort resulting from the 1927 Mississippi River Flood.  The lake was completed in 1943.

April 23, 1940: Fire kills over 200 at Rhythm Night Club in Natchez

Boarded up windows, inadequate exits, and overcrowding contributed to one of the deadliest fires in United States history. The fire, which killed noted Chicago bandleader Walter Barnes, inspired a number of blues songs, the most famous of which, “The Natchez Burnin’’ was recorded over 15 years later by Howlin’ Wolf.

September 1940: Camp Shelby reactivated as federal training facility

During World War II the average strength was 50,000 soldiers, making it the second largest city in Mississippi.

October 16, 1940: Ingalls Shipbuilding launches its first ship, SS Exchequer

The Pascagoula firm designed the ship with the world’s first all-welded hull. This manner of construction revolutionized shipbuilding and design.

Previous: 1939

Next: 1940s