The Mississippi Gulf Coast Seafood Industry
A People's History
The first complete history of Mississippi's seafood industry and those who harvested and processed this coastal bounty
The seafood industry on the coast of Mississippi has attracted waves of immigrants and other workers—oftentimes folks who were either already acquainted with maritime livelihoods or those who quickly adapted to the resources of the region. For generations the industry has provided employment and sustenance to Coast peoples. Deanne Love Stephens tells their stories and identifies key populations who have worked this harvest. Oyster and shrimp processing were the most significant of these trades, and much of the Gulf Coast's history follows these two delicacies. Harvesting, processing, and marketing oyster and shrimp products built the Mississippi seafood industry and powered the growth of the entire coastal region.
This book is the first to offer a broad view of the many ethnic groups and distinct populations who toiled in the oyster and shrimp industries. Relying heavily upon contemporary newspapers, oral histories, and interviews to create a rich picture of the industry and its workers, the author presents the history of laboring people who daily toiled in factories and often went unheard and unrecognized.
Stephens provides an overview of significant early developments and the beginnings of the industry, considering the development of railroad expansion, lighthouse construction, and ice technology. She covers significant state and federal legislation that both defined and protected marine resources, illustrating the depth of the industry’s importance as Mississippians wrestled with adequate protective measures to preserve oyster and shrimp resources throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.