LAUREL, Miss. (AP) - For nearly 25 years, Laurel resident Karla Husband has served as the unofficial keeper of the city's history.
In her quaint home, Husband maintains a treasure trove of Laurel Leader-Call articles and other items detailing the history of the City Beautiful.
Husband, a Laurel native, said her project began innocently enough, clipping articles from the newspaper whenever members of her family appeared.
"I wanted to find a way to protect it," she said, noting she purchased a number of photo books to keep the articles in.
"There were all these empty pages," Husband said. "I decided to cut something else and wound up cutting everything. That started it."
Husband said she has always been interested in history.
"Now, I start my own history," she said.
Husband said she has collected some 75 books full of articles stretching over more than two decades.
"I've got a book about Dr. Chuck Benigno (superintendent of the Laurel School District) since he started and the school system," she said. "I've got ones about Obama, the Laurel Housing Authority and Kay Guy, sports books, weddings and pageants."
Husband said she has books with police files - "stuff they don't have."
"Anything that's happened, I've got it," she said. "I've got three books on (Dr. Glenn) McGee (former Laurel Schools superintendent), Mayor Mack and the city. I've got individual council books, Dear Abby columns, Lula Cooley, (State Rep.) Omeria Scott, (Jones County Supervisor) Jerome Wyatt, (Laurel Police Department Assistant Chief) Tyrone Stewart."
Husband said she's also given several of her books away including one she gave to Sheriff Alex Hodge, containing many of his articles.
Husband said she also has a number of books with obituaries and funeral programs of many of her friends and important community members.
"I keep them for a lot of reasons," she said. "When you look at their picture, it's like they're still here. Without a picture, it's like they never existed."
Husband said those books have also come in handy for those looking for an article or photo.
"If they need something, this is where they come," she said. "Somebody was putting on a family reunion and needed a photo to put on a shirt. This was where the obituary was."
Husband said she buys up to 200 papers per month to continue her project.
"I've got bags and bags of clippings," she said. "I've just got to get books to put them in."
Husband said she also uses her history books as a stress reliever.
"Whenever I'm stressed and depressed, I go work on my books," she said. "That helps me."
With her 75 books dedicated to various topics, does Husband have a favorite?
"I love all of it," she said. "It's history. I love my obituary book. I've got Susie Ruffin, Michael Jackson, Jennifer Hudson's family, Teddy Pendergrass and Steve McNair. Everybody's fascinated that I've got Michael's."
The Laurel City Council honored Husband's work recently with a Certificate of Appreciation.
Councilwoman Willie Evans said Husband keeps a record of "outstanding things going on in the city."
"She keeps up with so much data," Evans said. "It takes a lot of patience, time and dedication."
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