MSU faculty shines a light on Natchez in new ‘Hidden History’ publication


Contact: Sarah Nicolas

Joshua K. Foreman (Photo by Beth Wynn)

STARKVILLE, Mississippi — A fourth book in the Mississippi “Hidden History” series has been published by a Mississippi State faculty member and journalism advisor.

Joshua K. Foreman, instructor in MSU’s communications department and advisor to student newspaper The Reflector, has published “Hidden History of Natchez,” co-authored with Ryan Starrett, another Jackson native and childhood friend of Foreman.

The History Press book series authored by the two authors details the mysteries and hidden aspects of the Deep South and explores the stories of the early Mississippians about which little was previously known.

“Natchez’s story is so unique it demands to be written,” said Foreman. “Natchez was the great village of the Natchez Indians, a fortress for the French, a commercial hub for the British, a target for American pirates and a hold for the Spaniards, all before it was part of the Mississippi. So many different types of people have lived in Natchez that the layers of culture and history there are as thick as its silty loam soil.

“The history of Mississippi is so present it can be heartbreaking. It’s a blessing and a curse for us Mississippians. But if we tell true stories about the Mississippians who came before us, we honor them and reveal part of the way forward, ”said Foreman.

“A good example is John Blommart, who is virtually unknown to Mississippians today, but he was a captain who traveled the world, a Swiss mercenary and a British war hero, and Natchez’s richest man. at one time, ”Foreman said.

“Another good example is William Johnson, a free black citizen of Natchez who got rich running a barbershop. Johnson kept one of the most detailed and comprehensive diaries of any Natchez citizen of this era, and in doing so, gave the city a colorful account of life in the city in the 1830s and 1940s. “

Foreman and Starrett are planning future books on the greater Natchez Trace area, the Mississippi Delta and northern Mississippi areas. More information on the authors is available at

“Josh is a storyteller at heart,” said Terry Likes, professor and head of MSU’s communications department. “Like most journalists, he strives to find unique stories about American life.

“Josh wears many hats, from teaching photography and journalism, to supervising the Bulldog online newsroom – a new wrap-around course in the print and digital journalism focus – to advise The Reflector and chairing the Story State conference held at MSU. All of these involve telling compelling stories like Josh does with his Hidden History series which in this case details colorful and tragic stories in Magnolia State.

As part of the Hidden History series, Foreman and Starrett published in 2018 “Hidden History of Jackson”, in 2019 “Hidden History of the Mississippi Sound” and in 2020 “Hidden History of New Orleans”.

The duo also wrote “Dallas Tough,” a story of the city’s early days, in 2020.

Part of the College of Arts and Sciences, more information about the Department of Communication is available at

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