Donald Rawson

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Donald Moses Rawson

President of the
Louisiana Historical Association
In office
Preceded by Henry W. Morris
Succeeded by Thomas D. Watson

Born August 22, 1925
Dossville, Leake County, Mississippi, USA
Died October 10, 2014 (aged 89)
Alexandria, Louisiana.
Resting place Parkway Cemetery in Kosciusko, Mississippi
Spouse(s) Vera McKay Rawson (married 1951-2014, her death)
Children Glynda Rawson Mehl

Patti Rawson Hargis
Richard Willis and Bessie Sanders Rawson

Residence Natchitoches, Louisiana
Alma mater Mississippi State University

Vanderbilt University

Occupation Historian, Professor, and Dean of the Graduate School at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana
Military Service
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1943-1946
Battles/wars European and Pacific theaters of operation

Donald Moses Rawson (August 22, 1925 – October 10, 2014)[1] was an American historian and academic, known for his scholarship of the 19th century United States. For twenty years, he was a faculty member at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. For another four years, he was the Dean of the Graduate School.


Rawson was one of seven children of Richard Willis Rawson (1893-1967) and the former Bessie Sanders (1901-1997). He and his twin brother, Denver Wyatt Rawson (1925-2019),[2] were born in the ghost town of Dossville in Leake County in central Mississippi northeast of the capital city of Jackson. After high school, Rawson entered the United States Army and served from 1943 to 1946 in both the European and Pacific theaters of operation.[3]

Thereafter, he completed both bachelor's and master's degrees in history from Mississippi State University in Starkville. He taught at the junior college level during the 1950s and in 1964 completed his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in the capital city of Nashville, Tennessee.[3] His dissertation is entitled Party Politics in Mississippi, 1850-1860.


In 1960, Rawson, his wife, and their two daughters relocated to Natchitoches, Louisiana, where he joined the history department of Northwestern State University.[3] Mrs. Rawson, the former Vera McKay (December 30, 1928 – February 22, 2014), a Dossville, Mississippi, native and the daughter of Amzie Lamar McKay, Sr., and the former Annie Blanche Jennings, taught mathematics for eighteen years at NSU.[4]

Rawson was the NSU history department chairman from 1972 until 1980, when then president René Bienvenu named him Dean of the Graduate School, with Marietta LeBreton taking over as history chairman.[5] This was Rawson's final position until retirement at the age of fifty-nine in the summer of 1984.[3]

Rawson was an authority on middle-period American history, with emphasis on the U.S. South, and authored numerous articles for scholarly and professional journals,[3] such as "Democratic Resurgence in Mississippi, 1852-1853" in the Journal of Mississippi History.[6] He wrote about the Natchitoches Parish naturalist Caroline Coroneos "Carrie" Dormon (1888-1971).[7] He was a member of the Southern Historical Association, the Mississippi Historical Association, and the Southern Studies Institute, which is based at NSU. He was a board member and president of both the Louisiana Historical Association[8] and the North Louisiana Historical Association, which publish, respectively the journals, Louisiana History and North Louisiana History.[3]

Personal life

Rawson resided in Natchitoches from 1960 to 2013, when he relocated to Alexandria, Louisiana, where he died in the fall of 2014 at the age of eighty-nine. Mrs. Rawson had died eight months earlier.[3]

Rawson, his wife, parents, and other family members are interred at Parkway Cemetery in Kosciusko in Attala County, Mississippi.[3] He was a Southern Baptist-turned-Presbyterian.[3]

See also


  1. Dr. Donald Moses Rawson. Retrieved on August 26, 2020.
  2. Denver Rawson. Retrieved on August 26, 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 Donald M. Rawson. The Alexandria Town Talk (October 15, 2014). Retrieved on August 26, 2020.
  4. Vera McKay Rawson obituary, The Kosciusko Star-Herald, April 8, 2014.
  5. Historical News and Notices," The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 47, February 1981, page 156.
  6. "Democratic Resurgence in Mississippi, 1852-1853," Journal of Mississippi History, XXVI (February 1964), pp. 1&-27.
  7. Donald M. Rawson, "Caroline Dormon: A Renaissance Spirit of Twentieth Century Louisiana," Louisiana History, XXIV (1983).
  8. Presidents of the Louisiana Historical Association. Retrieved on August 26, 2020.