The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

History professor, Civil War historian’s influence invaluable to MSU library

David Lewis
John Marszaleck

Giles Distinguished Professor Emeritus John F. Marszalek is not only a mentor and an author or editor of 13 books and over 300 articles and book reviews, but  also the executive director of the distinguished Ulysses S. Grant Library. 

Marszalek joined the Bulldog family in 1973 to teach in the history department at Mississippi State University. He taught everything from freshman survey courses to graduate level courses. In 1994, Marszalek became a W. L. Giles Distinguished Professor of History.

Marszalek retired as a Giles Distinguished Professor Emeritus in 2002, and he was named executive director and managing editor of the Grant Papers project to replace John Y. Simon, who passed away in 2008.

Because of Marszalek’s background in history, he was an ideal candidate to take over as executive director and managing editor at the Ulysses S. Grant Library when it shifted from Southern Illinois University to MSU.

Marszalek’s assistant and senior library associate, Meg Henderson, said Marszalek is vital to the library.

“Without Dr. Marszalek, the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library would not exist. Under his direction, the Grant Presidential Papers became a Presidential Library, and it opened to the public for the purpose of research and touring,” she said. “Now,more people can enjoy our holdings than ever before.”

Marszalek said the approximately 17,000 linear feet paramount collection of Grant-related material is highly convenient.

“We have the best collection here. If you need any information about Grant, this is the place to get it,” he said. “It’s really a one-stop shop.”

Mitchell Memorial Library completed the last of the 32 volumes of “The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant” at MSU. Marszalek said this was a feat for the university, and it has attracted scholars and researches from across the world.

“We have recently opened the collection to scholars, and people have come from all over the U.S. We’ve had scholars visit from Iceland, Great Britain and Australia,” he said. “It is exciting that Mississippi State is become ‘the place’ to study Grant.”

Aaron Crawford, assistant editor of the Ulysses S. Grant library, said Marszalek propelled the library to new heights.

“I would say that Dr. Marszalek has been the driving force behind the Grant library. He and Dean Frances Coleman have made the library a major center for scholars from around the world,” he said. “Dr. Marszalek demonstrates an energy and passion for the Grant Library and MSU that inspires the staff of the project and allows him to represent the project throughout the nation.”

Henderson said through collaboration with MSU administrators, the Grant library works to put on events that attract students and members of the community.

 “He has worked closely with Frances Coleman, dean of libraries, and the President’s office to host events on campus that draw in students and members of the MSU community, such as the Lincoln movie symposium held on campus last fall and the annual Marszalek Lecture series,” she said. 

Although Marszalek had never worked on the administrative side of academia prior to his position at the Ulysses S. Grant Library, he said he enjoys the experience.

“It’s a very interesting experience for me,” he said. “This collection really is the best out there, and everyone who works here is proud and excited to be a part of the library.”

An asset to the Bulldog family, Marzalek has played a huge role in putting the MSU Grant library on the map.Through his dedication and hard work, he has guided the library to new limits.

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History professor, Civil War historian’s influence invaluable to MSU library