SuperTalk Mississippi

Rhythm Nightclub Fire Memorialized Through Photos Never Seen

NATCHEZ, Miss– The fire that claimed the lives of over 200 people is being shown through a different perspective. 

The Rhythm Nightclub Fire Museum is receiving new artifacts that will paint a picture of the aftermath of the fire that claimed 209 lives on April 23, 1940.

“People were trapped inside as the building burned,” says Courtney Taylor with the Adams County Sheriff’s Department, “the band continued to play and died along with the others trapped inside.”

Some of the pictures show the coffins of those musicians, being escorted home by train by young African-American boy scouts.

The photos were first brought to the Adams County Sheriff’s Office. They were donated by an anonymous person, a friend of a niece that inherited the photos from the photographer that shot them when he worked for a Chicago newspaper.

“They just weren’t published at the time,” says Taylor.

Sheriff Chuck Mayfield donated the originals to the MS Department of Archives and History, and had high quality prints made of both the photos and newspapers with archival paper and ink.

Sheriff Mayfield will present the items to the museum today at noon. Monroe Sago, owner and operator of the Rhythm Nightclub Fire Museum will have a reception for the Sheriff and a special display of the photographs.


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