Michael B. Ballard is a native of Ackerman, MS, where he stills lives. He earned his B.A. degree in history at Mississippi State University in 1975, his M.A. in history and archives at MSU in 1976, and his Ph.D. in history at MSU in 1983. He has been an archivist in MSU's Mitchell Memorial Library since 1983, serving successively as Associate University Archivist, University Archivist, and University Archivist and Coordinator of the Congressional Collection. He has assumed full-time duties as Coordinator of the Congressional and Political Research Center.He is also associate editor of the U. S. Grant publishing projects.
In addition to his 11 books, Ballard has published some 25 articles and over 75 book reviews. His books A Long Shadow: Jefferson Davis and the Final Days of the Confederacy, Pemberton: A Biography, and Vicksburg: The Campaign That Opened the Mississippi were History Book Club selections. Pemberton was chosen as best non-fiction book by a Mississippi author in 1991 by the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters. Ballard's writings on the Civil War have led to numerous speaking appearances before many Civil War round tables and symposiums, professional meetings of historical societies and associations, and civic groups. He has also served as a consultant to several university presses and in 1998 appeared as a guest historian on the Greystone Television production regarding the fate of Confederate gold; the program has aired on the History Channel and the A&E Network. Ballard is a co-founder of the Golden Triangle Civil War Round Table, Starkville, MS, and edits the round table newsletter, The Arsenal. In 1998, he co-founded, along with his former major professor John F. Marszalek of Mississippi State University, the Civil War Historians-Western Theater group that meets annually.
Ballard is active in many professional archival and historical organizations. 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.