Grants and Acquisitions

A private Lincoln and Civil War collection, amassed over the past 50 years by Frank J. Williams (former Rhode Island Chief Justice and nationally known Abraham Lincoln authority), will be donated to Mississippi State University (MSU). Williams, the longtime president of the Ulysses S. Grant Association, was previously instrumental in relocating that group and its own archives to MSU nine years ago. The Frank J. and Virginia Williams Collection boasts rare historical memorabilia; priceless artifacts; original, signed documents; ephemera; books published over a span of 150 years; and both original one-of-a-kind, and early mass-produced, artwork relating to Lincoln and the Civil War era. The collection, which the Williamses will officially gift to the MSU Libraries, has been valued at nearly $3 million. Committing themselves to providing perpetual support to maintain, study, and publicly display highlights from the collection, the Williamses have also offered a promised gift of $500,000 for the creation of the Frank J. and Virginia Williams Research Fund—an endowment to MSU to curate the material in the years to come.


The George Clulow and United States Playing Card Company Gaming Collection—one of the world’s premiere collections of books about card games, games of chance, playing cards and chess—has been acquired by Vanderbilt University Libraries. The collection of approximately 1,000 volumes dating from the 15th to the 20th century was acquired from The United States Playing Card Company, which bought the bulk of the collection from the English playing card maker George Clulow in 1898 and have augmented and enhanced it over the past 100 years. Also included in the collection are archival records that document the development, design, and manufacture of playing cards in America. Playing cards probably originated in China, though the earliest literary reference to a card game suggests an Arabic source. The books in the new Vanderbilt collection come largely from England, France, Germany, Italy, India, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States. Subjects from the collection that lend themselves to teaching and research include the economics, mathematics, and social consequences of gaming, as well as the legal ramifications. Art students will be interested in the art of playing card design and students of mathematics and statistics will appreciate the tracts on the ambiguities and science of games of chance. In addition, there are theological diatribes and literary treatments related to gaming.

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