Research Help

Research Help Tutorial:
Finding and Using the Archives and Special Collections

Text Version

Our Mission: To acquire, preserve, and provide access to research materials that relate to Mississippi history and literature.

Hours of Operation: Monday through Friday, 8am until 5pm, except for selected University holidays.

Location: 3rd floor of the J. D. Williams Library.

Contact Information:
Phone: 662-915-7408
Web address:

When and How to Use the Archives

Special Collections materials cannot be checked out and the stacks are closed to the public. To request materials for use in the Archives, complete a call slip for EACH title or manuscript collection and present the slip(s) at our reference desk. Researchers are limited to 3 books or manuscript folders at a time. Patrons must submit requests for manuscript collections at least 1 hour before closing time. Requests for Visual Collections and Modern Political Paper Collections must be submitted in advance as these collections are kept in an off-site location.

Using the Archives and Primary Sources

Primary sources are used when a researcher is attempting to gain an understanding about a particular topic by examining the records of those involved.

Primary sources found in the Archives and Special Collections include published and unpublished documents and recordings like books, correspondence, pamphlets, narratives, speeches, and music; as well as visual items like photographs, negatives, framed items, posters, maps, and films. The following slides provide examples of these sources.

Primary Source in Archives

Political Collections
Researchers use our political collections to examine a variety of topics relating to Mississippi and American politics, especially Southern history and race relations.

Blues Archive
With over 50,000 sound recordings, in most audio formats; over 15,000 photographs; more than 350 videotapes; over 3,000 books, periodicals and newsletters; and numerous manuscripts and ephemera, the Blues Archive houses one of the largest collections of blues recordings, publications, and memorabilia in the world.  

Visual Collections
Examples of primary resources in visual collections are: photographs, film reels, and negatives just to name a few.

Manuscript Collections
A manuscript collection contains personal or family papers, which may include a variety of unpublished mixed media, including handwritten letters, typescripts, photographs, diaries, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, etc.