Several misconceptions appeared in the Student Printz article State Law Stops SGA Senate on February 21, 2019 that, as head of the University of Southern Mississippi’s Special Collections, I wish to correct. The McCain Library and Archives refers to the building erected in 1976 that currently houses the Graduate School, the University Testing Center, and Special Collections. Special Collections consists of the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection, the Mississippiana Collection, Rare Books, Historical Manuscripts and University Archives – all of which existed in nascent form prior to the construction of the McCain building.
There are indeed formal processes for transferring archival records pertaining to university history – including building names – to the University Archives. Archival holdings include the reference files on University Buildings and Features and the University Residence Hall Namesakes, both of which may be helpful to the research the Student Government Association (SGA) plans to conduct. The University Archives preserves the history of Southern Miss by retaining the records of the administration, academic schools, athletics programs, and various campus organizations. Among the organizational materials are the 1912 constitution and bylaws of SGA as well as minutes and legislation submitted by its previous officers.
Related to the University Archives are the papers of faculty members, which mirror the disciplines that are taught on campus while highlighting faculty contributions to their respective fields. There are nearly 900 collections in Historical Manuscripts, including the papers of prominent Mississippi politicians, Civil War documents, railroad and lumber industry records, Hattiesburg organizations’ archives, and testimonies from the civil rights movement and United States armed conflicts. The de Grummond Collection, one of the largest children’s literature collections in the country, administers the prestigious Ezra Jack Keats award, co-sponsors the Kaigler Children’s Book Festival, and supports the teaching of children’s literature. In addition to Mississippi history, Mississippiana maintains an extensive genealogy collection and a community cookbook collection that rivals those in national culinary collections. Special Collections holdings support the study of fine arts, design, literature, music, religion, printing history, criminal justice, and even polymer science. Special Collections responds to more than 1,500 reference inquiries each year initiated from the student body, faculty, and staff as well as scholars worldwide. Students of all disciplines may familiarize themselves with Special Collections via the web site at http://www.lib.usm.edu/spcol/collections/and may access the collections in the Cleanth Brooks Reading Room on the third floor of the McCain building, M-F, 9 am – 4 pm. Sincerely, Lorraine A. Stuart Head of Special Collections/ Curator, Historical Manuscripts and Archives