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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Farar, Benjamin. Papers, 1773-1826 (bulk 1820-1826). 56 items (on 1 microfilm reel). Location: Mss.Mf:F. Planter of Laurel Hill Plantation near Natchez, Mississippi. Papers include personal and business correspondence (1820-1826) related to family matters, plantation operations, and social life in New Orleans. Includes some land grants in Spanish. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1364.

Farrar, Alexander K. Papers, 1804-1931 (bulk 1831-1870). 2.25 linear ft. Location: UU:229-231; OS:F. Planter and lawyer of Kingston, Adams County, Mississippi, and Mississippi state senator. Personal, professional, and plantation papers concerning Farrar's law practice, including settlement of several estates, and his plantation and business interests. Available (with some omissions) on microfilm 532: University Publications of America Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations Series I, Part 3, Reels 6-10. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 782, 850, 1348.

Farrar, B.G. Papers, 1863-1870 (bulk: 1863-1865). 13 items. Location: Misc:F. Brevet Brigadier General Bernard G. Farrar, Colonel of the 6th U.S. Colored Artillery (Heavy). Letters, orders, and affadavits relate to recruiting African-American soldiers, anticipated attacks, and plundering of plantations in the Natchez and Vidalia area. An 1870 letter to Farrar from J.W. Alfvord, General Superintendent of Education, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands relates to the education of the freedmen. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4764.

Fern, A. Letter: Natchez, Miss., to George P.? James, 1863 August 28. 1 item (2 leaves). Location: Misc:F. Union soldier in the Civil War stationed with a regiment camped in Natchez, Mississippi, in August 1863. Letter written while Fern was on guard duty. Topics discussed include the draft in the eastern states; the French and English stances on the Civil War; the fighting at Charleston, South Carolina; and General Meade's campaign along the Rappahannock River. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3404.

Referenced in Guides: Civil War, Natchez, Mississippi

Foster, James, d. 1880. Medical record books, 1826-1830, 1867-1868, 1876-1878, 1893. 3 ms. vols. Location: G:6. Medical doctor of Natchez, Mississippi, and owner of the Hermitage Plantation near Natchez. Entries give patients' names, treatment, and fees for Foster's medical practice in Kentucky and later in Mississippi. Volume 3 contains an extensive inventory of household furnishings. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1403.

Referenced in Guides: Medicine, Natchez, Mississippi

Foster, James. Family Papers, 1829-1904. 92 items, 7 ms. vols. Location: U:117. O:3. 1Medical doctor of Natchez, Mississippi, and owner of the Hermitage Plantation near Natchez. Correspondence consists chiefly of personal letters from family members concerning travel in the East; yellow fever in New Orleans; and plantation affairs. Some letters relate to student life at Oakland College (Mississippi) and Harvard University. Three manuscript volumes contain poetry and four record books concern a Confederate monument in Natchez, listing subscribers to a memorial fund (1888-1889). Available on microfilm 5735: University Publications of America Confederate Military Manuscripts Series B, Reel 6. Mss. 1705.

Foster, James. Family Correspondence, 1861-1866. 110 items, 1 ms. Vol. Location: B:41. Isaac G. Foster and John S. Foster were the sons of James Foster, a medical doctor of Natchez. Both served in the Confederate Army and died during the Civil War. Papers include letters from John Foster written in New Orleans (1861) relating his views on Louisiana's secession. Later letters describe First Bull Run, Chancellorsville, and other battles. Isaac Foster's papers deal with Shiloh and other battles. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2184.

Fourniquet, E. P. Letter, 17 January 1838. 1 item. Location MISC:F. E. P. Fourniquet was the owner of Long Branch Plantation in Grand Gulf, Miss. Letter from Fourniquet to his overseer William Pugh gives instructions about the maintenance of Long Branch. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4862

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Natchez, Mississippi

Freedmen's Bureau document, 1864 Dec. 1. 1 item. Location: Misc.:F. Order by the Office of Superintendent and Provost Marshal of Freedmen, Natchez, Mississippi, signed by Lt. Col. A. L. Mitchell, for use of livestock on Home Farm. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3365.

Freemasons. Grand Lodge of the State of Mississippi. Slate of officers, 1825 Jan. 5. 1 certificate. Location: Misc:M. The Grand Lodge of the State of Mississippi was established in Natchez, Miss., on July 27, 1818. This certificate naming the officers of the Grand Lodge of the State of Mississippi for the year 1825 bears the signatures of the following officers: Israel Loring, Grand Master; Elijah Smith, Deputy Grand Master; Joseph Dunbar, Senior Grand Warden; and John A. Quitman, Junior Grand Warden. Mss. 5044.

Referenced in Guides: Natchez, Mississippi