SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A former Rhode Island Supreme Court chief justice and his wife have decided to give their massive collection of Abraham Lincoln and Civil War items to Mississippi State University.

Frank J. Williams and his wife, Virginia, decided years ago that their gift of 17,000 items, plus 12,000 books and pamphlets, should go somewhere that’s not already rich in Lincoln memorabilia, The State Journal-Register (http://bit.ly/2sEI3JN ) reported. The collection is valued at nearly $3 million.

“Years ago, Virginia and I decided that we would give this collection to a school that has none,” Williams said. “And because we still remain a house divided — to use Lincoln’s words from 1858, taken from the New Testament — it became obvious that the collection could do the most good in a Southern institution,” he said.

Williams was president of the Springfield-based Abraham Lincoln Association for nine years and was in the Illinois capital city for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum’s dedication.

Williams is also president of the Ulysses S. Grant Association and led negotiations to move Grant’s papers from Southern Illinois University to Mississippi State in 2008.

Frances Coleman, Mississippi State’s dean of libraries, said in a news release that the library is indebted to the couple for entrusting the collection to the university.

“Our goal is to display its great treasurers on a rotating basis while making the entire archive available to researchers throughout the world by cataloging each piece, digitizing the unique materials, and developing a website for the collection,” Coleman said.


Information from: The State Journal-Register, http://www.sj-r.com