Special Collections offer patrons an exciting variety of historical resources ranging from fifteenth-century illuminated manuscripts to Civil War letters, Civil Rights documents and current Mississippiana. The collections are comprised of the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection, Historical Manuscripts, Mississippiana, Rare Books and the University Archives. Open to students, faculty and the public, holdings may be researched in the Cleanth Brooks reading room located on the third floor of the William David McCain building. Selected materials comprise the Digital Collections available online.

de Grummond Children's Literature Collection

The de Grummond Children's Literature Collection is one of North America's leading research centers in the field of children's literature. Although the Collection has many strengths, the main focus is on American and British children's literature, historical and contemporary. Founded in 1966 by Dr. Lena Y. de Grummond, the Collection holds the original manuscripts and illustrations of more than 1,300 authors and illustrators, as well as 180,000+ published books dating from 1530 to the present.

Digital Collections

The Special Collections Digital Lab creates research quality digital collections of texts, images, and audio materials and makes these collections available to scholars throughout the world. These digital collections will eventually represent the entire range of Special Collections materials: historical manuscripts and photographs, children's literature, Mississippiana, rare books, oral histories, and editorial cartoons. To search the digital collections, click here.

Historical Manuscripts

Historical Manuscripts consists of approximately 800 archival collections that largely focus upon the history of Mississippi and Southern culture. Primary source materials include correspondence, business records, diaries, newspaper clippings, photographs, and scrapbooks. Featured are the papers of prominent Mississippi politicians, Civil War documents, railroad and lumber industry records, and local Hattiesburg organizations’ archives. Other collecting areas include the civil rights movement and military history.


The Mississippiana Collection is a comprehensive collection of books about Mississippi, by and about Mississippians, and/or published in Mississippi. As such, it constitutes a vital resource for the study of Mississippi history and culture. These books can be accessed through the online catalog. In addition to the Mississippiana book collection, the library subscribes to several serials (magazines, journals, newsletters, and numerous other professional and organizational publications) relating to Mississippi.

Special Collections serves as a depository for Mississippi state documents. These items provide information on virtually every facet of state government and the economic, social, and cultural characteristics of the state. Many of these can be accessed using the library catalog or by asking the reference librarian. A map collection includes city, country, and state highway maps and various types of soil, mineral, drainage, topographic, nautical, historical, and specialty maps. They document Mississippi and the region from 1699 to the present.

Vertical Files consisting primarily of newspaper clippings and pamphlets contain up-to-date information about the people, events, social issues, institutions, cities, and towns of Mississippi. Also included is historical information on a variety of subjects. The Mississippiana Collection maintains copies of telephone books for the entire state, and city directories for the state's major cities.


Genealogy materials related to Mississippi are available for patron use in the Cleanth Brooks Reading Room. Other books that may be helpful with genealogy research are found in the closed stacks. These books may be located by using the online catalog, or by contacting the reference librarian. In addition to books, genealogy vertical files which includes family trees, clippings, histories of names/locations, and other materials are available for researchers. These files are organized by surname and include information about the surname on local, national, and international levels. All genealogy information not relating to Mississippi is located in Cook Library.

For more information on conducting genealogy research at the USM Libraries, look at our genealogy guide.

Rare Books

The Rare Book Collection is comprised of materials relating to the history of the South, the Civil War, the history of printing, philosophy, religion, among other topics. Special Collections has 3500 books that belonged to Cleanth Brooks, a leading literary critic of the twentieth century and co-founder of the Southern Review. This collection contains materials relating to literary criticism, poetry, Southern literature, and Romanticism. The Ernest A. Walen Civil War Collection and the Sam Woods Rare Book Collection are also located in Special Collections.

Ernest A. Walen was a businessman from Gloucester, Massachusetts, who began collecting materials on the Confederacy and the South in the 1940s. In 1958, he began corresponding with Dr. William D. McCain concerning membership in the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and that same year, he became an honorary member of Camp 584 in Jackson, Mississippi. Mr. Walen's collection, which was willed at his death to the University of Southern Mississippi, was received in October 1969. The Walen Collection contains books, pamphlets, newspapers, journals, maps, regimental histories, and Confederate imprints which document the history of such topics as the South, the Confederate States of America, slavery, Abraham Lincoln, and the Civil War in general. The collection consists of more than 5,000 volumes, including more than 600 Confederate imprints.

For a complete list of books in the Walen Collection, click here

The Sam Woods Rare Books Collection consists largely of books published before 1800, with principal concentration in religion, philosophy, classics, geography, and history. The collection also includes works of art, artifacts, and a variety of illuminated manuscripts and vellum documents. Highlights of the collection include a 1731 Hollman Atlas, a 15th century Spanish Antiphonal, and a rare copy of John Calvin's Commentaries on St. Paul's Letters from 1551.

For a complete list of books in the Sam Woods Rare Book Collection, click here.

University Archives

The University Archives oversees the campus-wide records management program as well as maintaining archival records of the university dating from its founding. The University Archives also maintains oral histories conducted by the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage. For more information on these materials, click here.