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Grant collection helps scholars understand the life and times of Ulysses S. Grant

January 23, 2011

Ulysses S. Grant has returned to Mississippi, but this time, it is for peaceful scholarly purposes.
The collected letters and memorabilia of Ulysses S. and Julia Grant are now housed at Mitchell Memorial Library on the Mississippi State University campus. The Grant Papers and other material related to his military career and presidency are part of the permanent exhibit at the library.
The extensive collection includes 10,000 linear feet of photocopied correspondence, photographs, books, memorabilia, and other material related to the long career of the Civil War military leader who became the 18th President of the United States. There are also a limited number of original letters to and from Grant on display.
According to MSU’s Dr. John Marszalek, the collection is undergoing extensive cataloging to aid Grant researchers, and those studying the Civil War or late 1800s. Marszalek said the goal of MSU and the U.S. Grant Association is to open the research to scholars.
“Mississippi is where Grant became famous — in the Battle of Vicksburg,” Marszalek said. “To have his papers return to the scene of his great fame is exciting.”
The project is a continuation of a 46-year-old project begun by the late John Y. Simon, another nationally renowned scholar who died in 2009 in Illinois.
There have been a lot of surprises in the collection as part of the move to MSU. Research assistant Ryan Semmes said he has uncovered a letter involving Orville Babcock, Grant’s personal secretary, who was known as an unscrupulous character, but some letters may prove he’s not as bad as his reputation.
In total, just the letters takes up over 90 filing cabinets in the Mitchell Memorial Library.
For more information about the Grant Collection, contact Marszalek at 325-4552 or johnmarsz@yahoo.com.

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