RI’s former chief justice donates Lincoln, Civil War collection to Mississippi State

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Officials say a large Civil War donation will transform Mississippi State University into one of the nation’s leading American Civil War research destinations.

Former Rhode Island Chief Justice Frank J. Williams, a nationally known authority on Abraham Lincoln, will donate his collection, amassed over the past 50 years, to the university. He was also key in relocating the Ulysses S. Grant Association and its archives to Mississippi State nine years ago.

Former Chief Justice Frank Williams in January 2009. (photo: AP/Stew Milne)

The Lincoln collection — valued at nearly $3 million — features more than 17,000 items, including artifacts, signed documents, books and artwork from the Civil War era.

Williams and his wife, Virginia, have also promised a 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.