The Impact of the Boll Weevil on the Historic South
Adult boll weevils measure just 8 millimeters in length from the tip of their long snout to the end of the abdomen. But despite their diminutive size, boll weevils had an enormous impact on America’s cotton industry, economy, and culture.
Having first migrated from Mexico to the cotton fields in Brownsville, Texas in 1892, the voracious insects swept north across the United States, infesting up to 160 miles of cotton growing territory per year. By 1920 they had chewed their way into almost every cotton field in the United States. The devastating crop losses triggered and economic calamity that contributed to the Great Depression of the 1930’s.
Communities that had relied primarily on cotton were forced to find other revenue sources. Artists, musicians, and authors documented the southern struggle by incorporating the pesky beetles into legendary stories, blues anthems, and sculptures. Eventually the boll weevil was transformed from a loathsome symbol of destruction onto an emblem of southern resilience.
The Cotton Museum will capture the history of this merciless vermin and the innovation and perseverance that lead to its eradication in a new exhibition, “Fear No Weevil: the Impact of the Boll Weevil on the Historic South.” Through oral histories, music, artifacts, models and educational displays, the exhibition will chronicle the impact of the prolific pest from the time it entered our nation until the establishment of the successful Boll Weevil Eradication Program in the 1980’s. And we want you to be part of this historic story and essential new exhibition.
The Cotton Museum relies on corporate and individual supporters, like you, help launch new exhibitions that broaden the Museum experience for visitors and students. We offer a variety of opportunities for you to form a valuable partnership with the Cotton Museum and the Memphis community. Contact our Executive Director for more information about sponsoring this captivating exhibition.