STARKVILLE, Miss.--Correspondence, photographs, books, memorabilia, and other documents related to the military career and presidency of Ulysses S. Grant now are being housed at Mississippi State.
Through an agreement signed recently with the Ulysses S. Grant Association, the university's Mitchell Memorial Library has become the official host of the Grant papers.
Civil War scholar John F. Marszalek, an MSU Giles Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, is assuming the duties of executive director and managing editor of the association.
He continues a 46-year-old project begun by the late John Y. Simon, another nationally renowned scholar who died earlier this year in Illinois.
Marszalek said MSU now becomes one of only a few U.S. institutions to house a collection of presidential papers.
Over the next five years, he will be leading effort to produce a supplementary volume, as well as a scholarly edition of "Memoirs," the Union Army general-in-chief and 18th president's autobiography. He also will be working to develop a digitized version of the entire series, a cumulative index and a paperback edition, all of which will precede a formal opening of the collection to visiting scholars.
"Mississippi State will be the premier source of materials for research about a seminal figure in the nation's history," the veteran historian observed. "This is a remarkable accomplishment for our institution."
In early May 2009, Mitchell Memorial Library will be host for the Grant Association's first national meeting to be held in the South.
Last week, library officials took delivery on nearly 90 filing cabinets of original and photocopied manuscripts, the largest single Grant collection in the world. Formerly housed at Southern Illinois University, the material includes letters written to leading political and military figures of the day, as well as epaulets, headgear, diaries, and other war memorabilia.
Grant (1822-1885) is more renowned for a military career in which he rose through the officer ranks to ultimately lead all Union forces during the 1861-65 conflict. He was architect of the 1863 Vicksburg campaign, among others, that effectively split the Confederacy and is considered a key battle in the war.
The collection joins those of former U.S senator John C. Stennis and other more contemporary political figures in the library's Congressional and Political Research Center.
"We are very grateful for the support of our administrative leadership, who saw the importance of the collection and helped provide resources necessary to secure their placement at Mississippi State," said Frances N. Coleman, dean of libraries. "These papers have a significant place in our nation's history and it is a major honor for our library to house them."
Marszalek, who retired in 2002 after a nearly 30-year Mississippi State career, is the author of a highly acclaimed biography of Grant's military colleague, William Tecumseh Sherman. "Sherman: A Soldier's Passion for Order" (1993) was a finalist for the Lincoln Prize, considered the most prestigious award for Civil War books.
As companions to the Grant papers, Mitchell Memorial Library is receiving Marszalek's research notes for the Sherman biography and an earlier related book, as well as those for his biography of Gen. Henry Halleck, another Union Army leader.
Organized in 1962 during the Civil War centennial, the Grant Association has maintained ownership of the papers during their earlier sojourns at Ohio State and Southern Illinois universities.
Rhode Island Chief Justice Frank J. Williams, winner of MSU's 2006 MSU Distinguished Jurist Award, is association president. A former commissioner of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and a New York Metropolitan Museum of Art vice president, as well as two direct Grant descendants, are other officers.
For more information about Mississippi State University, see http://www.msstate.edu/.