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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McGehee, J. Burruss (John Burruss). Papers, 1816-1951. 18.5 linear ft, 64 volumes. Location: 8:3-12, P:5-6, OS:M. Plantation owner in West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, and Wilkinson County, Mississippi.Correspondence, business records, and printed items reflect the business ventures in agriculture, railroads, and real estate of John Burruss McGehee, his father, Judge Edward McGehee and his son, James Stewart McGehee. Early papers contain references to slaves and the destruction of Bowling Green Plantation by Union troops. Personal papers and photographs provide a family history and the genealogy of the McGehee and Stewart families. Mss. 1111, 1156, 1157.

McGehee, James Stewart, 1860-1945. Collection, 1724-1929 (bulk 1862-1880). 5 ms. vols. Location: H:1. Planter and businessman of Wilkinson County, Mississippi, and St. Louis, Missouri. James' grandfather, Edward McGehee, owned Bowling Green Plantation in Mississippi, and was president of the West Feliciana Railroad. Collection contains typewritten copies of McGehee family papers including reminiscences, biographical sketches, genealogical notes, diaries, and obituaries. Includes an account of the Veal family, a family of slaves associated with the McGehees. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 326.

McGehee, James Stewart, 1860-1945. Papers, 1826-1912 (bulk 1903-1904). .25 linear ft. Location: C:26, OS:Mc, VAULT:21, VAULT MRDF 6. Planter and businessman of Wilkinson County, Mississippi. His grandfather, Edward McGehee, owned Bowling Green Plantation in Mississippi and was president of the West Feliciana Railroad. Papers include family letters, McGehee's autobiography, the history of a slave family, and financial documents. Includes items related to the destruction of Bowling Green Plantation in Mississippi by Union and African American troops. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2302, 2789.

McMurran, Alie Austen, d. 1899. Journal, 1856-1889 (bulk 1856-1878). 1 v. Location: G:18. This typescript copy of the journal of Alice "Alie" Austen McMurran recounts her marriage in Maryland and subsequent life in antebellum Natchez, Miss.; her life in Natchez and Maryland during the Civil War; political and social events at the close of the war; and family affairs in Mississippi and Maryland during the three years after the war and sporadically recorded through 1878. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4304.

McMurran, John T. and family. Papers, 1820-1895. 0.2 linear ft. Location: S:121. Planter, lawyer, and state senator of Natchez, Mississippi. Correspondence and business and legal papers of John McMurran, his wife, and their daughter, concern travel, social life, and the administration of the Woodlands and Killarney plantations. Letters mention judgeships in Mississippi, the funeral of Henry Clay, the sale of the plantation of a mulatto politician, the effects of Reconstruction, and problems of plantation management during Reconstruction. Also included are estate papers of William B. Griffith and papers of William T. Griffith while a student at Oakland College, Mississippi. Available on microfilm 5322: University Publications of America Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations Series I, Part 3, Reel 18. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1403.

McMurran-Austen Family Papers, 1846-1878; 1942, undated (bulk:1856-1868). 0.6 linear feet. Location: U:298, OS:M. John T. McMurran family of Melrose in Natchez, owners of Louisiana plantations, son John, Jr., married Alie Austen of Maryland. Primarily correspondence related to family matters, the Civil War, home life, politics, plantation operation, and attitudes toward federal forces. Newspapers clippings, cartes de visites of family members, a household inventory, J. T. McMurran, Jr.'s discharge from the Confederate army in 1862, and military passes are also present. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4795.

Mercer, William Newton. Papers, 1789-1936 (bulk 1827-1874). 2 linear ft., 2 microfilm reels. Location: U:1, UU:79-81, VAULT:1, OS:M, MSS.MF:M. Surgeon and planter of Adams County, Mississippi; Louisiana; and Illinois. Collection includes slave records, diaries, business and personal correspondence, and financial documents. Correspondence includes letters from Henry Clay, Abraham Lincoln, and Benjamin Butler. Available (with some omissions) on microfilm 6061 and 5322: University Publications of America Records of Southern Plantations from Emancipation to the Great Migration, Series B, Part 4, Reels 9-10, and Records of Ante-Bellum Southern Plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War, Series I, Part 3, Reels 1-3. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 292, 1051, 1233, 1364.

Mercer, William Newton. Slave List and Inventory, 1846-1848. 2 items. Locations: Misc.:M, OS:M. Plantation owner of Adams County, Mississippi. A booklet titled "List of Negroes" lists the names and ages of slaves, and in some cases the names of parents and other family members at William Newton Mercer's Buckhurst, Ellis Cliffs, Ormande, and Laurel Hill plantations (1846-1848). Lists date from 1846 with later notations in 1847 and 1848. Also included is an inventory of clothing distributed to sailors aboard the USS Jamestown (ca. 1845-1847). Inventory is signed by Master Wilmer Shields who later served as the manager of Mercer's plantations. Mss. 5210.

Merrill, A. P. and Aylett Buckner. Papers, 1787-1870 (bulk 1830-1860). 0.5 linear ft., 1 volume. Location: U:228, M:19, OS:M. A. P. Merrill of Natchez, Mississippi, was a physician and the cashier of the Agricultural Bank. Aylett Buckner settled in Natchez around 1830, where he was an attorney, cotton factor, and director of the Commercial Bank of Natchez. Collection primarily consists of financial and legal papers of Merrill, Buckner, and Jane Dunbar Ferguson, a planter of Washington, Adams County, Mississippi. Other items include plats of the property of Abner Green and the deed to Patesi Plantation and its slaves. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 598.

Metcalfe, S. W. Letter, 1819 Sept. 15. 1 letter. Location: Misc. S.W. Metcalfe writes from Washington, Miss., to her husband, Dr. James Metcalfe, in Natchez commenting on the health of their son John, the conduct of their servants, and food shortages in Washington and Natchez during a yellow fever epidemic. The letter was annotated at a later date by John Metcalfe. Mss. 4056.

Referenced in Guides: Medicine, Natchez, Mississippi

Minor family. Papers, 1774-1914 (bulk 1774-1891). 24 items, 1 printed volume, 1 microfilm reel. Location: T:35, OS:M, MSS.MF:M. Planters of the Concord Plantation and governor of the Spanish district of Natchez. Collection includes correspondence related to plantation and family matters in Mississippi and Louisiana; a sugar producer's license; a printed item signed by President John Adams; and a will. Includes land titles for and personal correspondence of the Stephen, William J., and Henry C. Minor families of Natchez and Terrebonne Parish. Some letters in Spanish and French. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 859, 947.

Minor family. Photograph collection, 1885, undated. 6 unique copy prints, 9 35mm negative strips. Location: MISC:M, E:65. William J. Minor was a sugar planter of Terrebonne and Ascension Parishes, Louisiana. His father, Stephen Minor, owned a plantation and a home in Natchez, Mississippi. Ayres P. Merrill was the U.S. Minister to Belgium. Collection contains formal portraits of William J. Minor, John Minor, Mrs. Minor (probably the wife of William J. Minor), and Ayres P. Merrill II. Included are photographs depicting Oakland, the Minor family home, and Elmscourt, the Merrill family home, also in Natchez. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3173.

Referenced in Guides: Sugar, Plantations, Women, Natchez, Mississippi

Minor, John. Account book, 1815-1823. 1 volume [on 1 microfilm reel]. Location: MSS.MF:M. Executor of the estate of his brother, Stephen Minor. Journal listing the income received from cotton and other produce on Concord Plantation, Adams County, Mississippi; Waterloo Plantation, Ascension Parish, Louisiana; and Lake Plantation, Concordia Parish, Louisiana. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1035.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Natchez, Mississippi

Minor, Katherine Surget. Letter, 1867 Dec. 5. 1 item. Location MISC:M. Katherine Surget Minor was a native of Natchez and wife of Natchez plantation owner John Minor. The Minor and Surget families owned several plantations in Louisiana and Mississippi. Letter to C. E. [Charles E.] Leverich expresses Minor's dissatisfaction with an employee of the Freedman's Bureau and with economic conditions during Reconstruction in Mississippi. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4867.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Women, Natchez, Mississippi

Minor, William J. and family. Papers, 1779-1898, 1941 (bulk 1830-1870). 410 items, 37 volumes, 1 microfilm reel, 70 microfiche. Location: U:229, H:2, MSS.MF:M, VAULT:1, OS:M, MICROFICHE 2729. Sugar planter of Southdown and Hollywood Plantations in Terrebonne Parish and Waterloo Plantation in Ascension Parish, Louisiana. Minor was president of the Agricultural Bank of Natchez, Mississippi. Collection includes plantation records; banking papers; and personal correspondence of the Stephen, William J., and Henry C. Minor families of Natchez and Terrebonne Parish. Some letters in Spanish and French. Some items available on microfilm 6061: University Publications of America Records of Southern Plantations from Emancipation to the Great Migration, Series B, Part 3, Reels 1-4. Some items available on microfiche. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 519, 594.

Minor, William J. Papers, 1845-1862, undated. 18 items, 2 printed volumes. Location: U:229. Sugar planter of Southdown and Hollywood Plantations in Terrebonne Parish and Waterloo Plantation in Ascension Parish, Louisiana. Minor was president of the Agricultural Bank of Natchez, Mississippi. Letters chiefly concern racing, management and breeding of thoroughbred horses, and the horses Lexington, Lecomte, and Pryor. Letters mention Duncan F. Kenner, Colonel Adam L. Bingaman, and others, referring to their horses, betting, racing news, and items in the sporting journal SPIRIT OF THE TIMES. Letters also comment on yellow fever and cholera outbreaks, and the political environment. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 859.

Mississippi River Map Collection, ca. 1858-1878. 19 items, 1 manuscript volume, 4 CD ROMS and 1 microfilm reel. Location: OS:M, M:29, Mss.Mf:M., AA:(CD-ROM shelf). Loose manuscript maps of the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to Jefferson Parish and land along the river, showing land parcels, landings, land ownership, and changes in the course of the river, and a bound volume of cut and pasted in maps of the Mississippi River from above Vicksburg to New Orleans, showing land parcels, land ownership, and landings. Included in the volume are pieces of Marie Adrien Persac's NORMANS CHART OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER FROM NATCHEZ TO NEW ORLEANS IN 1858. These maps depict the Mississippi River from above Vicksburg to New Orleans, showing land parcels, land ownership and plantation names, and landings For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4818.

Mitchell, A. S. Letter, 1864 November 18. 1 item. Location: Misc.:M. Lieutenant Colonel with the U.S. Office of Superintendent and Provost Marshal of Freedmen in Natchez, Mississippi. Letter discusses the possibility of ex-slaves leasing plantation lands for their own personal use. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4734

Mitchell, A. S. Receipt, 1864 December 5. 1 item. Location: Misc.:M. Lieutenant Colonel with the U.S. Office of Superintendent and Provost Marshal of Freedmen in Natchez, Mississippi. Receipt deposited for safekeeping by a freedman. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3032.

Mitchell, A. S. Lieutenant Colonel. Receipt, 1865 March 15. 1 item. Location: Misc:M. Lieutenant Colonel with the U.S. Office of Superintendent and Provost Marshal of Freedmen in Natchez, Mississippi. Receipt for a dog tax from the City of Natchez, Mississippi, to A. S. Mitchell. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3644.

Referenced in Guides: Civil War, Natchez, Mississippi

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