Getting the Grant “papers” story right …
There have been so many reports about the movement of The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant to Mississippi State University that it’s entirely understandable that there’s confusion about what’s being moved.
The largest collection of Grant’s original papers continues to reside in the Library of Congress. What resided at Southern Illinois University, home of the Ulysses S. Grant Association and The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, were first and foremost the files collected by the editorial team of the Grant Papers project. In addition, the project collected all sorts of items (including, for example, E. B. Long’s research notes for Bruce Catton’s work on Grant), and there were some Grant and Grant family papers (including those of his grandson, Ulysses S. Grant III) that were placed in the Special Collection section of Southern Illinois University’s Morris Library.
John Y. Simon allowed researchers to consult some files related to the project’s research, but one was not allowed access to the files of the volumes themselves, as Simon was clearly opposed to making the project files the equivalent of a derivative archive. William McFeely and he exchanged words about this in 1974 in the pages of a scholarly journal. Apparently those concerns no longer hold sway. In two research trips to Carbondale, I reviewed most if not all the material available to researchers, and I would not say that I had access to the vast majority of the project’s holdings.
So Grant’s papers, per se, are not now in Mississippi, sloppy reporting to the contrary notwithstanding (see this list of articles put out by MSU itself, several of which make inaccurate claims that the university nevertheless showcases). The records of the Grant papers project, along with some original material, now reside there. That’s evident in this NPR interview, although the reporter confuses things … just as so much of this story has been confusing.