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Library News

04/20/2020

Contact: Katherine M. Finley, Executive Director | Office: 812.855.7311 | E-mail: oah@oah.org

Logos of the Organization of American Historians and the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library.

BLOOMINGTON, IN - Joanne Meyerowitz, Yale University, OAH President 2019–2020, and George J. Sanchez, University of Southern California, OAH President 2020–2021, announce that the Ulysses S. Grant Association receives the OAH's prestigious 2020 Friend of History Award, which is given annually to recognize an institution or organization, or an individual working primarily outside college or university settings, for outstanding support of historical research, the public presentation of American history, or the work of the OAH.

The OAH is pleased to present the 2020 Friend of History Award to the Ulysses S. Grant Association. The USGA was founded in 1962 as part of the Civil War centennial commemorations. Its founding historians included luminaries in the field—Bruce Catton, John Hope Franklin, and Allan Nevins, among others. Initially located at the Ohio Historical Society and then at Southern Illinois University, the USGA moved to its current home at Mississippi State University in 2008, where it established the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library. Retired Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court Frank J. Williams has served as the second president of the USGA since 1990, replacing Ralph G. Newman. For more than five decades, the USGA has fulfilled its mission “to conduct research into the life of Ulysses S. Grant and preserve the knowledge of his importance in American history.”

In its early years, the USGA collected and annotated Grant’s papers and published 30 of the 32 volumes of The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant now available for research. In 2008 historian John F. Marszalek took over as the USGA’s executive director and managing editor after the death of long-time director John Y. Simon. Marszalek has held the position for more than a decade. Under Marszalek, the USGA expanded its holdings, completed the last two of the 32 volumes, and in 2017 produced the first comprehensively annotated edition of The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, published by Harvard University Press.

Important as they are, the published volumes hold only twenty percent of Grant’s papers. The remaining eighty percent is housed at the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library. There the USGA maintains 15,000 linear feet of records and thousands of published monographs. It conducts classes for teachers and students, organizes lectures and symposia, and exhibits documents and artifacts for the general public. It has also digitized the 32 volumes, additional correspondence, photographs, prints, political cartoons, and sheet music, all freely available on the library’s website. Housed alongside the Grant material, the Frank and Virginia Williams Collection of Lincolniana makes the Grant Library a true center for the study of the Civil War and the late nineteenth century.

Ron Chernow, author of the recent biography Grant, was, in his own words, “a major beneficiary” of the USGA’s work. Marszalek and his staff, he writes, “have done an outstanding job in assisting scholars and opening the collection to the outside world…. Both students and prizewinning authors are treated alike in working with the papers. And even random visitors who walk through the door of the library receive the same courteous treatment.”

In 2015 the U.S. Senate proclaimed 2022 as the bicentennial celebration year of the birth of Ulysses S. Grant and designated the USGA as the institution to lead the national commemoration. As we approach the bicentennial year, we applaud the USGA for its long and ongoing commitment to preserving Grant’s legacy and promoting historical research. As the Civil War historian James McPherson writes, the USGA is “most worthy” of this award.

For more information, visit oah.org or call 812.855.7311.


ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN HISTORIANS

Founded in 1907, the Organization of American Historians (OAH) is the world's largest professional association dedicated to American history scholarship. With more than 7,000 members from the U.S. and abroad, OAH promotes excellence in the scholarship, teaching, and presentation of American history, encouraging wide discussion of historical questions and equitable treatment of history practitioners. It publishes the quarterly Journal of American History, the leading scholarly publication and journal of record in the field of American history for more than a century. It also publishes The American Historian magazine. Formerly known as the Mississippi Valley Historical Association (MVHA), the association became the OAH in 1965 to reflect a broader scope focusing on national studies of American history. The OAH national headquarters are located in the historic Raintree House on Indiana University's Bloomington campus.