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Historical Manuscript Collections


The mission of the Historical Manuscripts Collection of The University of Southern Mississippi is to document the history of the state of Mississippi by acquiring, preserving, and providing access to primary source materials.

Our Historical Manuscripts Collection is one of the largest in the state, where personal, family, business, church, and organizational records that document the development of Mississippi and the achievements of Mississippians are preserved permanently and may be consulted by students, scholars, and interested persons with convenient access to the resources of a research library.

We provide permanent protection for approximately 10,000 cubic feet of manuscript collections and over 55,000 photographs. Some of our most frequently studied collections are the papers of Governor and U.S. Senator Theodore G. Bilbo, U.S. Congressman William M. Colmer, Governors Paul B. Johnson Sr. and Paul B. Johnson Jr.; various civil rights collections; the records of the J.J. Newman Lumber Company, the American Tung Oil Association, and the Association of American Railroads; the mayoral papers of the City of Hattiesburg; and the Oseola McCarty collection.

Our collections are preserved according to the standards of the Society of American Archivists in acid-free folders and boxes. The department is located in the McCain Library and Archives building, named in honor of Dr. William D. McCain, former president of the University and director of the state Department of Archives and History.

Although each collection is as unique as the person or group whose activities it reflects, personal and family collections typically consist of letters, diaries, scrapbooks, school and military service records, certificates of achievement, photographs, and newspaper clippings. Business, church, and organizational records frequently contain ledgers, minutes of meetings, anniversary materials, photographs, scrapbooks, and newspaper clippings.

Our collections are consulted by researchers in the Cleanth Brooks Reading Room under our supervision. To assist researchers, we prepare a detailed finding aid guide or written inventory of the contents of each collection, including a biographical sketch. Fully processed collections are also available in the online catalog.