AbstractCorn stover and rice straw lignin samples received from ethanol pilot plants, along with softwood kraft lignin samples, were characterized using pyrolysis GC-MS, 13C CP/MAS NMR spectroscopy, and permanganate oxidation degradation. The lignins were then esterified using 1-methylimidazole as a catalyst in a pyridine-free reaction, and the thermal properties of the products were evaluated. Solid state NMR showed the rice straw lignin contained 18% residual polysaccharides. Pyrolysis GC-MS showed the softwood kraft, corn stover, and rice straw lignins to be G – type, H/G/S – type, and G/S – type, respectively. However, some discrepancy was apparent between the pyrolysis and permanganate oxidation studies as to the ratios of the monomeric make-up of the lignins. The kraft and rice straw lignins were determined to have high degrees of condensation, while the corn stover lignin was uncondensed. Little to no increase in solubility was noticed for corn stover or rice straw lignin esters in organic solvents. Glass transition temperatures (Tg) of the lignin derivatives were determined by a combination of differential scanning calorimetry, dynamic mechanical analysis, and parallel plate rheometry.