Natchez-Area Manuscript Collections

The Mississippi River is one of the predominant geographical features of the United States. It simultaneously divides and links the country, demarcating the east from the west while serving as the artery of communication through which has passed the enterprise and the soul of the nation. The Mississippi River has defined the contours of the lands it drains and given shape to the culture, the economy, and the politics of the communities that draw sustenance from it.

For this reason, when LSU history professor Edwin Adams Davis began in 1935 systematically to collect the papers of the families that settled and prospered in the region and the records of the plantations and businesses they built and maintained, he gave no thought to distinguishing among those who were divided by the almost artificial political boundaries of the states. His interest was in documenting and preserving the rich history and culture of the Lower Mississippi Valley. Over the years, the department he founded at LSU has developed into one of the premier repositories for such materials in the nation.

In 1985, Louisiana State University renovated the original library building on its Baton Rouge campus specifically to house its growing collections of manuscripts and rare books. The Department of Archives and Manuscripts was renamed the Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections (LLMVC), highlighting the scope of its mission to collect and preserve. It was combined administratively with the collection of printed materials related to the history and culture of the region, creating an integrated center for research.

Preserved in the Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections at LSU are more than 5,000 manuscript groups, totaling 25,000 linear feet in extent. The collections include the papers of individuals and families; the records of plantations, merchants, and financial institutions; and the records of political, social, and labor organizations. The most important of these collections relate specifically to the families and enterprises in the Lower Mississippi Valley, from Memphis to New Orleans, and are especially strong in the Natchez, St. Francisville, and Baton Rouge areas. This guide concentrates on collections relating to Natchez and Adams County, Mississippi, as well as to the four Mississippi counties surrounding Adams County: Amite, Franklin, Jefferson, and Wilkinson. All were part of the original Natchez District of the Spanish period, and together they form the southwestern corner of the state, bordering Louisiana on two sides of a triangular geographical area.

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Adams, Israel L., 1801-1860. Family Papers, 1813-1890 (bulk 1852-1866). 0.5 linear ft. (505 items, 1 ms. Vol.). Location: Y:83, Mss. Mf.:A, E:Imprints. Merchant and farmer of Natchez, Mississippi. Collection consists of correspondence, bills, receipts, and printed items. Letters of the Adams children and others describe the Civil War in Arkansas and Mississippi. Some letters describe experiences of an immigrant cotton farmer in Sao Paulo, Brazil; other papers relate to German immigrants. Some letters in German. Available (with some omissions) on microfilm 5735: University Publications of America Confederate Military Manuscripts Series B, Reel 1. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3637.

Affleck, Thomas. Papers, 1807-1876 (bulk 1842-1868). 12 linear feet, 43 mss. volumes, 6 printed volumes, 26 microfilm reels. Location: W:110-121, J:25, OS:A, MSS.MF:A. Native of Scotland who established one of the first commercial nurseries in the South and published widely on scientific and agricultural subjects. He also published the Southern Rural Almanac and Plantation Garden Calendar from 1845 to the 1860s. Early papers concern Affleck's family in Scotland. Papers from 1842 to 1859 pertain to the management of Affleck's wife's plantation near Natchez, Mississippi, his commercial nursery, and his service as agricultural editor of several newspapers. Civil War letters by Affleck's sons describe battles, camp life, and troop movements. Post-Civil War papers describe Affleck's agricultural and speculative enterprises. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3, 4, 1110, 1263, 1264.

Amite County Record Book, 1851-1864, 1879, 1895. 1 ms. Vol. Location: M:21. Records of the appointed trustees of the Common Schools for District No. 2 in Amite County, Mississippi. Reports from various schools list name of parents, name and age of scholar, and amounts drawn from the public fund. Some minutes are included. For further information online catalog. Mss. 6.

Referenced in Guides: Civil War, Education, Natchez, Mississippi

Anderson, John Q., Papers, 1848-1993 (bulk 1953-1973). 7.5 linear ft., 5 v. Location: X:119-125, OS:A, P:17. John Q. Anderson was a professor of English and a writer of Southern history and folklore. This collections of files, correspondence, printed material, and photographs reflect Anderson's career, current events; and they provide research material for his publications, particularly "Brokenburn: The Journal of Kate Stone, 1861-1868" and "Louisiana Swamp Doctor: The Life of Henry Clay Lewis". For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2156, 2162.

Anonymous letter, 1807. 1 item. Location: Misc.:A. Plantation letter from a Natchez, Mississippi, planter to a brother living in the East, outlining the favorable economic conditions for plantation owners in the Natchez area. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1658.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Natchez, Mississippi

Anonymous lumber company account book, 1841-1842. 1 vol. Location: H:3. Unidentified lumber dealer, possibly Andrew Brown, in Natchez, Mississippi. Daybook of accounts of sales of lumber and shingles. Prominent purchasers include Thomas Affleck, B. L. C. Wailes, John A. Quitman, Francis Surget, John Jenkins, Stephen Duncan, and Samuel Postelwaite. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 259.

Referenced in Guides: Business, Natchez, Mississippi

Anonymous scrapbook, 1861-1936. 2 vols (on microfilm). Location: Mss. Mf.:A. Miscellaneous newspaper clippings collected mainly from newspapers in New Orleans and Natchez include materials relative to Reconstruction, the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson, the Chicago fire of 1871, and steamboats. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2554.

Anonymous letters, 1864-1865. 2 items. Location: Misc:A. Letters from a Louisiana Confederate soldier in the Civil War wintering at New Dalton, Georgia, to his sister, relating personal news and from Natchez describing his reception upon returning from the service and his adjustment to civilian life. Available on microfilm 5735: University Publications of America Confederate Military Manuscripts Series B, Reel 1. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1032.

Referenced in Guides: Civil War, Natchez, Mississippi

Anonymous verse, undated, ca. 1847-1887. 1 item. Location: E:Imprints. Broadside entitled RAFFLE OF THE FAMOUS TROTTING STALLION HENRY WARD BEECHER. The locale of the poem may be Natchez and the poem may refer to a member of the Surget family. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1919.

Referenced in Guides: Natchez, Mississippi

Babbit, Charles W. Saint-Catharine's Creek Breakwater. Adams County, Miss., 1888 January 15. 1 item; 18 x 14.2 inches. Location: OS:B. Ink and ochre watercolor on surveyor's linen oilcloth, showing a plan of a proposed breakwater at the mouth of Saint-Catharine's Creek at the Mississippi River. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4620.

Referenced in Guides: Natchez, Mississippi

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