New: Summer 2023 Issue, Folk Arts Apprenticeship Exhibit, and I Ain't Lying Magazine Exhibit

I Ain’t Lying: Volumes 1-4

I Ain’t Lying: Volumes 1-4

I Ain’t Lying was a cultural journalism magazine exploring local life in Claiborne County, Mississippi. It was published in four issues between 1980 and 1989 by Mississippi Cultural Crossroads (MCC) in Port Gibson. I Ain’t Lying grew out of a project that was funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to survey the Claiborne County area for folk arts and folkways that had been or still were practiced by the community.  

The magazine featured a variety of topics including quilting, corn shucking, hat-making, midwifery, remedies, children’s games, riddles, songs and stories, tales of enslavement and the civil rights movement. The survey was conducted by high-school-aged students who interviewed community elders after school. With the guidance of MCC staff and volunteers, the students recorded the interviews on cassette tapes and photographed both the interviewees and any appropriate artifacts. The students also transcribed the audio files and wrote a short introduction to each interview. The purpose of the project was to document the folklife that had largely been ignored in previously published accounts of the county and make it available to the public. After the first four volumes, Mississippi Cultural Crossroads moved onto other programs and did not publish other interviews that had been conducted by the students. 

In addition to the first four published issues of I Ain’t Lying, MCC founder Patty Crosby also included five interviews that would have appeared in a hypothetical Volume 5 to this digitization project. The first three interviews (Celia Anderson, Charles Miller, and Lydell Page) were edited by the I Ain’t Lying team in the 1980s when the magazine was active, and they are presented here as completed projects. The two other interviews (Edgar May and Martha Buie) exist only as transcriptions of the interviews along with associated photographs. They have not gone through the intended editing process and should be considered incomplete work products. 

Disclaimer: I Ain’t Lying is presented as originally published and may include language which would be considered offensive in today’s context.

Above (main image): Layefette Thomas resting in John Dunigan's Store. See Volume 1, Spring, 1981, pp 30-33. Photograph courtesy of Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Right: Janie Clara Breckenridge demonstrates how to wrap a baby and weigh it with a hand scale. Photo by Elvin Jenkins. See Volume 1, Spring, 1981, pp 3-12. Photograph courtesy of Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Each issue of I Ain't Lying has been digitized from its original printed format and are presented here as PDF documents. To read Volumes 1-4, please click on the cover photo icon for each issue on this page below. To read the interviews from Volume 5, please click here.

I Ain't Lying

I Ain't Lying, Volume 1, No. 1

  • Table of Contents
    Janie Breckinridge ... 3
    Willie Alfred Wilson ... 9
    Malissa Banks ... 13
    Frances Pearl Lucas ... 19
    Remedies ... 24
    Henry Earl Jones ... 27
    John Dunigan's Store ... 30
    Minnie Lou Buck ... 34
    Gronetta Woodard ... 46
    Sarah Carpenter ... 50
    Israel Buck ... 54
    Children's Games... 56
    Lenora Wells ... 58

Left: Nathan Jones is reading one of his schoolbooks, which he treasured. He always wanted to go to college but never had the chance. Photo by Marhea Farmer. See Volume 3, Summer, 1983, pp 47-58. Photograph courtesy of Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

I Ain't Lying

I Ain't Lying, Volume 2, No. 1

  • Table of Contents
    Geneva Gibson ... 3
    Eddie Duffin ... 12
    Mary Lee Trimble ... 20
    Homecoming ... 26
    Artemeasie Brandon ... 29
    Rosetta Mackey ... 40
    Bernice Green ... 43
    Early Wren ... 48
    Frank Oliver & Saul Dorsey ... 55
    Hystercine Rankin ... 61

"Interviewing these people and printing this magazine, we feel, is an important project. Not only was it an opportunity to honor the people interviewed, but it was also very educational for the group of students who worked to put this publication together." -Octavis Davis, editor of Volume 1, Issue 1 of IAL

Right: Mrs. F.A. White, Sr. is braiding the corn shuck pieces she has gathered and dried. When the braid gets to be about 15 feet long, she sews it together to make a hat. Photo by Sarah Crosby. See Volume 3, Summer, 1983, pp 59-66. Photograph courtesy of Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

I Ain't Lying

I Ain't Lying, Volume 3, No. 1

  • Table of Contents
    Elizabeth McLendon ... 3
    Rosa Page Welch ... 17
    Robert Mobley ... 28
    Julia Jones ... 37
    Nathan Jones ... 47
    Mrs. F. A White, Sr. ... 59
    Sam Magruder ... 67

Left: Charlie Ward (pictured right) is sitting on his front porch telling Harry Buck stories. Charlie Ward is well known around Claiborne County for his stories. Photo by Roderick Red. See Volume 4, Fall, 1989, pp 3-24. Photograph courtesy of Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

I Ain't Lying

I Ain't Lying, Volume 4, No. 1

  • Table of Contents
    Charlie Ward ... 3
    Sylvia Smith ... 25
    Reverend William Walker ... 36
    Harriet Aikerson ... 49
    Edward Johnson ... 58
    Thelma Wells ... 61

IAL Comprehensive Guide

IAL Comprehensive Guide, Volume 1-5, No. 1

  • This PDF presents a content overview of all I Ain't Lying publications.

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Mississippi Cultural Crossroads

Mississippi Cultural Crossroads

Mississippi Cultural Crossroads (MCC) began in 1978 to encourage the youth of Port Gibson and Claiborne County to explore and appreciate the arts and culture of the community through photography. Over the years, MCC developed a variety of arts programming for students including Peanut Butter & Jelly Theater and Summer Art. MCC became known for the Crossroads Quilters, including master quilter and teacher Mrs. Hystercine Rankin, a 1997 NEA National Heritage Fellow, and master quilters Geraldine Nash, Mary Ann Norton, Gustina Atlas, and Tammy McGrew. Collecting oral histories of local people has long been a passion of the organization. In addition to preserving the historical perspectives and memories of local citizens, MCC shared many practical ideas for using oral history to create public programming, including the I Ain’t Lying magazine series, GOOD EATING, a booklet of interviews about local foodways, accompanied by a CD of interviews, and community plays, WHAT IT THIS FREEDOM, HOLLA!, and HOW THE DEAL ROCKED UP, based on the stories.