Hail to the Chief! An Exhibit on Presidents and Mississippi in Presdential Elections

“Hail to the Chief: An Exhibit on Presidents & Mississippi in Presidential Elections” opened on 18 August 2008 and will remain on view for a year. The public may view the exhibit Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the Faulkner Room of the Archives & Special Collections on the third floor of the J.D. Williams Library.

The exhibition utilizes the strength and depth of the archives’ holdings by concentrating on two different themes. Ten of the display cases feature items related to Mississippi’s role in various presidential elections from 1844 to 1968. Highlights of this section include a letter from James K. Polk to an Oxford resident discussing the party’s prospects in the 1844 campaign; correspondence from a university student discussing the probable outcome of Abraham Lincoln’s election; and a letter from Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party leader Aaron Henry on the 1964 Democratic National Convention. The rest of the exhibit showcases items that are simply related to presidents, such as a handwritten letter from George Washington to General Nathaniel Greene; a letter from John F. Kennedy responding to the 1962 integration riot at the University of Mississippi; and an IOU from Franklin D. Roosevelt from a Mississippi Gulf Coast poker game with Senator Pat Harrison. A total of 130 separate items comprise the exhibit which is displayed in eighteen cases and on the walls. Among those items on display are five framed presidential photographs loaned by U.S. Senator Thad Cochran off the walls of his Washington DC office (Cochran has donated his congressional papers to the university).

Publicity for “Hail to the Chief!” included:

  • a 23” x 17” color poster placed throughout the campus and community
  • a University of Mississippi press release distributed by the Public Relations office
  • postings on various online calendars
  • the library’s debate activity flyer tacked all over campus and mailed to a large selection of faculty and administrators
  • a description on the Presidential Debate Subject Guide “Events” page
  • announcements on the library home page and kiosks
  • inclusion in an archives letter sent to all faculty teaching debate-related courses.
  • In addition, the university’s Debate Academic Committee officially endorsed the exhibit which permitted its description to appear on all official debate calendars and the debate website.

    As of September 26th, the exhibit received approximately 500 visitors. Special Collections also hosted a number of functions in the exhibit space between August 18th and September 26th, including:

  • four class presentations
  • eight tour groups
  • two Archives Brown Bag programs
  • an August 29th stewardship event for donors to officially celebrate the exhibit opening
  • a joint Common Cause and League of Women Voters program on judicial selection
  • two Sarah Isom Center for Women Brown Bags
  • an English Department faculty meeting.
  • Special Collections anticipates that the exhibit will receive increasing numbers of visitors over the course of the next year.

    Soon after the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal published an article based upon the exhibit press release, a relative of former U.S. Senator and Representative Wall Doxey contacted Special Collections regarding a potential donation of a scrapbook on the congressman which contains presidential photographs.

    Related Materials

    A variety of materials associated with the "Hail to the Chief" Exhibit:

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