Modern Political Archives Archives & Special Collections

Contact Information

Leigh McWhite
Political Papers Archivist
Assistant Professor
Archives & Special Collections
J.D. Williams Library
University, MS 38677

Telephone: 662.915.1850


Tara Pawley
Senior Library Assistant
Archives & Special Collections
J.D. Williams Library.
University, MS 38677

Telephone: 662.915.1850


Modern Political Archives:
News Archive

Past Press Releases

Panel Discussion to Examine Judicial Papers of Former State Supreme Court Justice (22 June 2010)

RFK Docudrama Examines Events and Personalities of the 1960s (15 February 2010)

Archived Presidential Debate Collection Opens to Public, Finding Aid Posted Online (25 June 2009)

Williams Library Recognized by State Library Association for Presidential Debate Activities (17 November 2008)

Past Events & Exhibits

Original Cartoon Drawings from the collection of U.S. Senator James O. Eastland

Although a reticent man who typically avoided the limelight, James O. Eastland’s membership in “the most exclusive club in the nation” brought him to the attention of editorial cartoonists across the nation. His collection contains a number of the original drawings that ended up in newsprint. Several of these are on view in an exhibit case in the hallway outside the Archives & Special Collections.

A Mississippi Democrat, Eastland received a Senate appointment in 1941 upon the death of Pat Harrison. He won the seat in his own right a year later and served from 1943 until his retirement in 1978. Assuming chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee in 1956, Eastland used the post to obstruct civil rights legislation. As the cartoons suggest, the conservative senator also sought to reverse the direction of the liberal-dominated Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Earl Warren.

Armis Hawkins Program

To celebrate the opening of the Armis Hawkins Collection (see below for details), the Archives & Special Collections will host a program on the former Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice on Thursday, July 1st at 5:30 p.m. in the Faulkner Room. U.S. District Judge Michael Mills, Oxford attorney Hal Freeland, and Political Papers Archivist Leigh McWhite will describe the life & career of Hawkins, count down his top ten most significant judicial opinions, and discuss the importance of judicial collections in general, and Hawkins in particular. Although the general public is invited, members of the state bar can earn one-hour of Continuing Legal Education credit by attending.

The Creation of the Gulf Islands National Seashore as Documented in the Collection of U.S. Senator James O. Eastland 

Established by Congress in 1971, the Gulf Islands National Seashore preserves sections of the mainland and selected barrier islands off the coast of Florida and Mississippi.  The congressional papers of James O. Eastland offer a variety of resources for examining the legislative process behind this effort:  correspondence from constituents, federal officials, congressional staff, and colleagues; newspaper clippings; committee reports and bills; press releases; and National Park Service reports on development plans, environmental assessments, and wilderness studies.

Past Collections

Armis Hawkins Collection

The Modern Political Archives is pleased to announce the opening of the Armis Hawkins Collection. Hawkins won election to the Mississippi Supreme Court in 1980 and acquired a reputation as a principled and independent jurist, a prolific author of opinions, and an excellent leader. He served as Chief Justice from 1993 until his retirement in 1995. During this period, Hawkins guided the state judiciary through significant reforms with the creation of the appellate system and the Administration Office of the Court. The collection consists of material related to Hawkins' tenure on the bench. Researchers will particularly value notes taken by the judge during private court deliberations. The finding aid for the Armis Hawkins Collection is available online at

Image of Armis Hawkins

Hilton Waits Collection.

Waits served in the Mississippi State Legislature from 1931-1960 and for a few months in 1964.  He chaired the Ways and Means Committee from 1944 to 1960, writing much of the state’s tax law. In addition to documenting his political career, the collection includes files from Waits's extensive legal practice in Washington County, Mississippi, particularly his work with the County Board of Supervisors and various school boards within the district.  The finding aid is available online at

ms legislature letterhead