‘Living historian,’ Ulysses S. Grant impersonator to lead inaugural Dr. Michael B. Ballard Lecture
All members of the public are invited to the inaugural Dr. Michael B. Ballard Lecture on Tuesday [Feb. 6] at the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library.
A “living historian,” Ulysses S. Grant impersonator and educational consultant will lead the inaugural Dr. Michael B. Ballard Lecture on Tuesday [Feb. 6] at Mississippi State University.
During the 2:30 p.m. event in the Grant Presidential Library at MSU’s Mitchell Memorial Library, Curt Fields will don Civil War attire and present “Ulysses S. Grant: The Man Behind the Uniform.” The lecture is free and open to the public. Guests are welcome to tour the recently opened Grant Presidential Library and Frank and Virginia Williams Collection of Lincolniana before and after the event.
“Mike Ballard was one of the nation’s leading Civil War historians, and he wrote the revised history of Mississippi State University,” Ulysses S. Grant Association Executive Director and MSU Giles Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History John Marszalek said. “When he passed away unexpectedly in October 2016, his wife Jan established the Ballard Lecture in his memory. Mike had so many friends in the community and in the Civil War world that these lectures will keep fresh the memory of his contributions to MSU, Mitchell Memorial Library, and the study of history.”
Ballard, an Ackerman native, received a bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate in history from MSU. He was an archivist in MSU's Mitchell Memorial Library from 1983 to 2011, serving successively as associate university archivist, university archivist, and university archivist and coordinator of the Congressional Collection. He also was associate editor of the U. S. Grant publishing projects. In addition to producing 11 books, Ballard has published some 25 articles and more than 75 book reviews. In 2005, Ballard received the Dunbar Rowland Award from the Mississippi Historical Society in recognition of his scholarly publications and other contributions to the documentation of Mississippi history.
Fields, the featured speaker for the first Ballard Lecture, holds degrees from the University of Memphis and a doctorate from Michigan State University. As a career educator, he taught at the high-school level for eight years and then served for 25 years as a high school administrator. He currently is an educational consultant and a “living historian,” which involves the re-enactment of historical events or the recreation of living conditions of the past.
Fields has a national reputation as a Grant interpreter, recognized for his deep knowledge of Ulysses S. Grant as general and president. He portrays Grant in the Appomattox Court House film, and has appeared on the Discovery Channel. He represented Grant in Civil War Sesquicentennial events throughout the nation. Along with George Buss, an Abraham Lincoln impersonator, he participated in the grand opening of the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library and Frank and Virginia Williams Collection of Lincolniana. For more, visit www.generalgrantbyhimself.com.
For more on the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library, one of six presidential libraries in the nation housed on a university campus, see www.usgrantlibrary.org.
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.
James Carskadon | Public Affairs