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  • Wednesday, April 16, 2014 7:59 AM | Tina Harry (Administrator)

    On March 8, the MSU Libraries was honored with the Elbert T. Hilliard Oral History Award at the Mississippi Historical Society’s annual Awards Brunch in Jackson for the “Echoes of Lloyd-Ricks-Watson” oral history project.

    The “Echoes of Lloyd-Ricks-Watson” oral history project contains interviews with former occupants or those with relationships to the Lloyd-Ricks-Watson building and records stories concerning their experiences and the personalities that occupied the building from its original opening in 1929 through its current remodeling and renaming in October 23, 2010.

    Ryan Semmes, Interim/Internal Coordinator of the Congressional and Political Research Center, said, “We are very pleased that MHS has honored us with the Hilliard award. This project is unique among oral history projects in that it does not solely seek to document the history of individuals, but also the building itself and its changes. We worked with the faculty, staff, and students, folks who lived in and interacted with the building and each other.”

    The award honors Elbert R. Hilliard, who served as director of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History for thirty-one years, and is awarded to the most outstanding oral history project exemplifying a distinguished collection, high-quality preservation, and proper use of oral history.  Frances Coleman, Dean of Libraries, accepted the award during the presentation in Jackson, MS and noted that she was “honored to accept this award on behalf of the Mississippi State University Libraries. These oral histories not only encompass the history of the building and the experiences of the individuals involved, it enhances the history of the University and the state while at the same time providing additional research opportunities for students and researchers."  She added "The project was successful due to the excellent work and expertise of many Library faculty and staff."

    The “Echoes of Lloyd-Ricks-Watson” project can be viewed and explored online at http://library.msstate.edu/echoes

    For more information on Mississippi State University Libraries, please visit http://library.msstate.edu.

    For information on the Mississippi Historical Society and its awards, please visit http://mdah.state.ms.us/new/government/mississippi-historical-society/.

    Submitted by
    Angela M. Patton
    Library Associate
    Mississippi State University Libraries

  • Wednesday, March 05, 2014 8:26 PM | Jennifer Nabzdyk Todd (Administrator)

    This January, bestselling biographer and Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Chernow spent a week in the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library researching his forthcoming book.

    Chernow, who has previously written about historical giants such as John D. Rockefeller, George Washington, and Alexander Hamilton, has spent the last two and a half years delving into the life of another man who helped change the course of American history – Ulysses S. Grant.

    The idea came to him in 2010, shortly after finishing his Pulitzer Prize winning biography on George Washington. Chernow knew that he wanted to begin a new project but felt that there were not many figures of comparable stature to Washington. Grant was one. Both men had been war heroes and presidents in the two most defining eras in American history: the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. Chernow decided that Grant would be his new subject.

    Between his “strong and often overbearing father” and his “equally difficult father-in-law,” Grant and his wife, Julia, faced the difficulty of feuding families, a fact that is often overlooked in portraits of the general and president, Chernow said. “In a way, the Civil War was already being fought out before 1861 in the Grant family – between the Yankee family from Ohio and the Southern family from Missouri.”

    Chernow explained his philosophy of biography this way: “I try to put at the center of the book a psychological portrait of the character, and I also try to synthesize both the public and the private lives. The material at the Grant Library is invaluable. It will allow me to present a rounded portrait of this person that I hope will make him seem very real on the page.”

    Until his visit to the Grant Library, Chernow immersed himself in secondary-source research to give himself a broad background. He spent a three-month hiatus after ankle surgery reading the Civil War trilogies of Shelby Foote and Bruce Catton and has since read nearly eighty books about Grant, the Civil War and Reconstruction. He then spent 2013 carefully perusing all 32 volumes of The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant.

    During his week at the Grant Library, Chernow worked his way through Series 2 of the unpublished Grant material. The 32 published volumes represent only 20% of the materials in the Grant Library, so he believes having access to the unpublished material will give him a wealth of new information. “I feel lucky to be the beneficiary of [former Executive Director John Y.] Simon’s work,” he said, “And the staff at the Grant Library rolled out the red carpet for me. The Grant Library is an absolute jewel. I’m going to be back many times.”

    Dr. John Marszalek, Executive Director of the Grant Library, praised Chernow’s previous work and his plans for his Grant biography. “Ron Chernow is one of the nation’s leading biographers, and his praise of our Grant collection is most meaningful. I can’t wait to read his completed book.”

    Photograph by Randall McMillen

    Ron Chernow spent a week in the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library researching his forthcoming book.

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