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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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

Gandy, Thomas H. and Joan W. Photograph collection, 1850-1950, 1960-1988. 110 linear ft. Location: Range 64. Thomas H. Gandy, Natchez, Mississippi, physician, and his wife Joan. Collection contains glass plate and celluloid negatives of Natchez photographers Henry Norman, Henry Gurney, and Earl Norman, collected by the Gandys, and prints made from the negatives by Dr. Gandy. Images include scenes of Natchez, historic buildings, civic events, sports, family groups, and portraits. Mss. 3778.

Referenced in Guides: Medicine, Natchez, Mississippi

Gandy, Thomas H. and Joan W. Photograph Collection. Cameras and Equipment Subgroup, 1900-circa 1975. 53 items, 2 linear feet. Location: 146:9-14, 18; McIlhenny Room. This collection consists of thirty-seven cameras, fourteen lenses, one stereoscope, one novelty carte de visite in a bottle, and two cubic feet (2 c.f.) mixed photographic equipment collected by Dr. Thomas H. and Joan Gandy. Mss. 3778.

Referenced in Guides: Natchez, Mississippi

Gayoso de Lemos, Manuel. Papers, 1792-1799. 41 items, 1 microfilm reel. Location: Vault:7, MSS.MF:G. Spanish governor of the Natchez District (1792-1797). Major Stephen Minor was a planter of Natchez, Mississippi. Letters of Manuel Gayoso de Lemos to Major Stephen Minor concerning general administrative issues and personal matters in the closing years of Spanish rule of the Natchez District. Includes a document by Gayoso titled 'Instructions for my commission to the Chocta Nation' (1792) and a proclamation calling for the reestablishment of peace at Natchez (1797). Partly in Spanish. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 157, 859, 1673, 3099.

Gayoso de Lemos, Manuel. Passport, 1797 June 6. 1 passport. Location: Misc:G. Manuel Gayoso de Lemos was the Spanish Governor of the Natchez District (1792-1797). This passport, issued at Natchez, grants permission for John Orr, Edward Newcom, and William Buchanan to pass unmolested to the United States with seven horses. Form printed in Spanish but completed in English. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4285.

Referenced in Guides: Spanish, Natchez, Mississippi

Gilbert, Walker. Letter, 1814 February 18. 1 item [typed transcription]. Location: Misc. Resident of Donaldsonville, Louisiana. Letter from Gilbert to Thomas Freeman of Washington, Adams County, Mississippi, concerns the activities of Jean Lafitte and a description of his base at Cat Island. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 457.

Referenced in Guides: Natchez, Mississippi

Gillespie, James A. and family. Papers, 1776-1929 (bulk 1840-1890). 1,530 items, 20 volumes. Location: E:22-24, E:118, G:16, 65:G, OS:G Vault:38. Planter of Hollywood Plantation, Adams County, Mississippi, and Indian Village Plantation, Concordia Parish, Louisiana. Collection includes plantation records, business papers, and correspondence of the Gillespie family and business papers of the Davis family. Papers include slave sales, land deeds, a will, diaries, portraits, maps, sheet music, and fashion publications. Includes some printed items in German. Available (with some omissions) on microfilm 6061: University Publications of America Records of Southern Plantations from Emancipation to the Great Migration, Series B, Part 4, Reels 5-8, or Records of Ante-Bellum Southern Plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War, Series I, Part 3, Reels 13-14. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 669, 695, 1104, 2086.

Gleason, David K. Papers, 1951-1992. 202 linear ft. Location: Ranges 87-90. Commercial photographer of Baton Rouge whose work included photographs of plantation homes along the Mississippi River. Gleason's work appeared in a number of books, including The Great Houses of Natchez (1986) and Plantation Homes of Louisiana and the Natchez Area (1982). Collection includes negatives, working proofs, prints, and notes. Unprocessed. Mss. 4520.

Goodwin, Josiah. Diaries and Research Collection, 1862-1864, 1983-1984, undated 0.3 linear feet, 2 vols. Location B:66. The collection consists of two original 1863-1864 diaries of Josiah Goodwin, kept during his service in the Mississippi Marine Brigade aboard various U.S. Steamers along the river in Louisiana and Mississippi. In addition are research materials compiled by William C. Wiseley, PhD, in his study of the diaries. These include biographical information on Goodwin, photocopies of Goodwin's service record, photoprints of portraits and other Civil War images, and an annotated transcription of the diaries. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4886.

Grafton, Daniel. Conveyance, 1801. 1 item. Location: OS:G. Adams County, Mississippi, resident. Sale of land in the District of Concordia, Louisiana, by Daniel Grafton to Joseph Fletcher, also of Adams County, signed by D. Lattimore, Parish Judge. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 162.

Referenced in Guides: Natchez, Mississippi