The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) is delighted to welcome you to its new online scholarly journal. The Journal of Early Southern Decorative Arts was established in 1975, and over the years has published seminal articles in the field, providing an outlet for established and emerging scholars to present their work. Along the way the journal has garnered numerous awards and been cited in countless catalogs, books, exhibitions, lectures, and articles.
In the first issue of MESDA’s Journal, the museum’s co-founder Frank Horton wrote:
As museums go, MESDA is but an infant, both in size and in age. Its opening in January, 1965, was filled with the hope that a museum displaying the decorative arts of the early South would fill a void in the knowledge of art historians and antiquarians concerning this part of our southern cultural history. To some extent, the museum has indeed achieved this. We quickly realized, however, that even our dreams for an expanding museum collection, together with lectures and special exhibits, could never gather and display more than a minor part of surviving southern decorative arts. Publication seemed the answer.
Thirty-seven years later, the museum has matured and grown but the core mission of the MESDA Journal has remained constant—now in a new e-journal format. The online medium allows us to reach the broadest audience possible, and also enables us to harness powerful new tools such as scalable images, multimedia content, and hyperlinks to third-party sites. The MESDA Journal is available free of charge, but we hope you will consider a donation to help us underwrite honoraria for contributors and other production costs.
The three articles available at the launch of the e-journal explore furniture, prints and maps, and metalwork. Noted scholar and dealer Sumpter Priddy explores a little-known furniture form brought to light through the recent discovery of a Norfolk writing cabinet. Mike McNamara’s exceptional research of a rare manuscript map brings to life the story of early North Carolina’s political and geographic landscape. The third article, by yours truly, exploring images of Charleston’s St. Philips Church, presents investigations of how one craftsman’s shop output reflects the political climate of an entire city.
We’ll be publishing more articles throughout the year, so please check back regularly or join our newsletter to receive notices when new content is available.
We welcome your input and involvement as MESDA’s new online journal evolves. Be sure to visit the Help page if you would like tips for reading and sharing articles. And please do not hesitate to contact me with your comments or suggestions.
With best regards,