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Vol. 2, No. 3/4: 1996

Tupelo, Mississippi: Place and Name

by Thomas Harvey

“Tupelo is one of the most-mentioned place names in southern geography. The author takes a look at Tupelo’s evolving image.”

I am interested in landscape, local history, and sense of place. This is a common avocation for southerners; we identify strongly with our region. I am particularly fascinated by Tupelo, Mississippi. I was born there in 1951 and grew up there, but my interest goes beyond simple hometown nostalgia. In the winter of 1970, while living in Chicago, I awoke one morning to a radio announcement report- ing the temperature outside: “It’s two below in Tupelo.” It was mildly entertaining then—they were obviously not talking about Tupelo, nor was there any further explanation. “Tupelo” was simply a word—a place name—to throw in. I thought little more of it then, but over the succeeding years I have come to perceive “Tupelo”—the name—as something special. On a per capita basis, Tupelo must be one of the most commonly referred to place names in the country.

This article appears as an abstract above, the complete article can be accessed in Project Muse
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