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, 1807-1935 (bulk 1842-1868). 12 linear feet, 43 manuscript 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 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 lumber company account book, 1841-1842. 1 volume. 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 New Orleans scrapbook, 1861-1936. 2 volumes on 1 microfilm reel. 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.

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

Baker, Edwin B. and family. Bible, 1846-1921. 13 items and 1 volume. Location: MISC:B, F:2, OS:B. Family Bible of the Edwin Backas Baker family of Natchez, Miss. entitled The Illuminated Bible (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1846). The collection also contains family genealogical notes and obituary notices. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 20.

Referenced in Guides: Religion, Natchez, Mississippi

Baker, Sarah. Oral history interview, 1974. 2 sound cassettes. Location: L:4700.2. Sarah Baker was born and raised on the Magee Plantation in Woodville, Wilkinson County, Mississippi, and was 113 years old at the time of the interview, which discusses plantation life and the end of the Civil War. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4700.2.

Bank of Mississippi. Bill of lading, 1824. 1 item. Location: Misc:W. Bill of lading for the transport of nine thousand dollars specie, contained in an iron bound keg, to Natchez, Mississippi, from the port of New Orleans aboard the steamboat ,Tanny. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3666.

Bank of the United States. Natchez office records, 1830-1846 (bulk 1831-1835). 63 ms. vols. Location: M:9-12. Records include deposit books, ledgers, and general bill books. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 708.

Referenced in Guides: Business, Natchez, Mississippi

Bass, John H. Diary, 1864-1866. 1 item [on microfilm]. Location: Mss. Mf.:B. Physician. Bass was born in Adams County, Mississippi; was educated at medical school in Louisville, Kentucky; and practiced in Madison Parish, Louisiana. He served as an assistant surgeon in the Confederate Army, mainly in Georgia and Tennessee. Diary covers experiences in battles during the Civil War from April to December 1864. It also contains lists of casualties, medical memos, prescriptions, and miscellaneous accounts. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3363.

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

Bass-Farrar Family Papers, 1827-1918 (bulk: 1829-1843, 1858-1867) 0.5 linear ft. Location: OS:B, R:41, VAULT:4. Papers of the Bass, Farrar, and Richardson families from Tensas Parish, La. and vicinity. Includes material on family matters, personal and professional activities, maintenance and overseeing of cotton plantations before and after the Civil War, life along the Mississippi River, life in Civil War Louisiana, and slavery. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4907.

Batchelor, Ruth Ker. Batchelor-Nutt collection, 1835-1960. 24 items, 2 vols. Location: B:46, F:16. James Batchelor was a planter and legislator of Amite County, Mississippi. Rushwell Nutt, his father-in-law, of Laurel Hill Plantation in Jefferson County, Mississippi, was a planter, physician, scientist, and world traveler. Collection includes papers, photographs, and ephemera of the Nutt and Batchelor families and the Davenport family of Louisiana. Letters include local and family news, and one letter describes teaching in Texas schools. Included are trade card scrapbooks of 19th century companies, and an article (1960) on Beech Grove Plantation in Amite County, Mississippi. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3018.

Bauer, N. Letter, ca.1870-1900. 1 item. Location: B. Letter written by N. Bauer of Natchez, Miss., to F. A. Dicks requests a sample of good raw glue so its adhesion can be tested before purchase. He mentions "LePage's" glue. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2685.

Referenced in Guides: Business, Natchez, Mississippi

Bower, Garner and Harrison. Papers, 1863-1888 (bulk 1863-1868). 0.25 linear ft. Location: E:51. New Orleans commission merchants. Letters of New Orleans, Louisiana commission merchants to a member of the firm at Baton Rouge, Louisiana (1863) and Natchez, Mississippi (1864-1868). Additionally, there is a receipt book (1866-1867). At the end of the volume are loose financial items (1869-1888). For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1388.

Bowers, Laura Boddie Jones. Papers, 1906-1990, undated (bulk 1931-1955). 3.25 linear ft. Location: E:119-121. Librarian in Louisiana. Primarily correspondence documenting the family life, student life, and early career of Bowers in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Natchitoches, Louisiana. Newspaper clippings, notes, post card collection, printed items, and a scrapbook are also present. For further information see online catalog. Mss. 3546.

Boyd, S. S. Letter, 1838 August 15. 1 item. Location: MISC:B. Resident of Natchez. Letter from a New York correspondent to Boyd regarding commercial matters, the resumption of specie payments by banks, and the visit to New York by the Mississippi orator Senator S. S. Prentiss. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2114.

Referenced in Guides: Politics, Business, Natchez, Mississippi

Brigadier General Mason Brayman letter, 1864. 1 item. Location: Misc:B. Letter to Brigadier General Brayman concerning the living conditions of freedmen in Natchez, Mississippi. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3666.

Britton & Koontz. Records, 1824-1899 (bulk 1838-1858). 569 items, 7 vols. Location: U:18-19, F:9. Banking house in Natchez, Mississippi, operated by Audley Clark Britton, also a plantation owner, and by George W. Koontz. Collection includes records related to the Commercial Bank of Natchez. Other items relate to Britton & Koontz banking activities and to personal bills and receipts of the Britton family. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 747.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Business, Natchez, Mississippi

Britton, A. C. (Audley Clark) and family. Papers, 1830-1929 (bulk 1843-1912). 1,760 items, 14 volumes. Location: S:141-143, O:16, OS:B. Banker and planter of Natchez, Mississippi. Papers include letters and descriptions of the family, plantation, and social lives in Natchez and documents specific to Britton's business activities. Miscellaneous items include photographs, autographs, poems, ledgers, and genealogies. Included are two letters to Eliza Britton written by Jefferson Davis. Available (with some omissions) on microfilm: University Publications of America Records of Southern Plantations from Emancipation to the Great Migration, Series B, Part 4, Reel 1. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1403, 1710.

Brown, R. L. Letter, circa 1870-1900. 1 item. Location: Misc.:B. Personal letter from Amite County, Mississippi, to Brown's cousin Ophelia Crawford, commenting on marriage and a baseball game at Centreville, Wilkinson County. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2190.

Referenced in Guides: Natchez, Mississippi

Buhler, John Robert, 1829-1886. Papers, 1843-1914. 6 ms. vols. Location: H:17. John Robert Buhler was the son of John Christian Buhler, a planter of Buhler's Plains near Baton Rouge. After his marriage to Mary Reynolds, they lived at Independence Plantation, home of his grandparents, the Smiths, near Natchez, Mississippi. Papers include three volumes of a diary containing entries (1847-1849) reflecting family and social life on Independence Plantation and providing information on events in and around Natchez, Mississippi, and Baton Rouge. Includes another diary containing manuscript poems (1881-1914) by Mary Edith Buhler, an autograph book, and a notebook containing poems by Buhler. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1311.

Buhler, M. E. (Mary Edith). Papers, 1881-1931. 985 items, 7 ms. Vols., 8 printed vols. Location: C:50-51; H:17. Poet and journalist of Mount Independence Plantation near Natchez, Mississippi, and resident of New Orleans and New York City; author of The Grass in the Pavement (1918). Papers consist of her manuscript and printed writings published in the New York Times and the New Orleans Times-Picayune and of materials relating to her family history and genealogy. Available on microfilm 5750: University Publications of America Southern Women and Their Families in the 19th Century: Papers and Diaries Series E, Reels 1-4. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1192, 1210, 1333.

Burruss, John C. Family Papers, 1825-1882. 407 items. Location: C:56,Mss. Mf.:B Methodist minister of Virginia and planter of Wilkinson County, Mississippi. Correspondence, and personal and business papers of the Burruss and Edward McGehee families. Papers relate to the Methodist Church and plantation operationst, including sugarcane growing, rice planting, the construction of a sugar mill, and African American laborers. They also reflect Confederate military life, and civilian life during the Civil War. A group of poems concern the 1845 presidential election of James K. Polk and George M. Dallas.For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1514, 2296.

Butler, Richard, 1777-1820. Papers, 1795-1899. 1.25 linear ft. Location: S:2, OS:B, Vault. Richard Butler, army officer and sugar planter, was the son of American Revolutionary War figure Colonel William Butler and Jane Carmichael of New Orleans. Papers include correspondence, financial papers, and plantation records. A diary describes Butler's travels from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Natchez, Mississippi, to deliver army dispatches. Included are two letters from Andrew Jackson to Butler. Available on microfilm 5322: University Publications of America Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations Series I, Part 5, Reels 2-3. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1000, 1069.

Referenced in Guides: Sugar, Plantations, Natchez, Mississippi

Campbell, James. Journal, ca. 1810. 1 ms. vol. Location: Misc. Account of a journey from North Carolina to Liberty, Amite County, Mississippi; and entries of a blacksmith's work and charges. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 862.

Referenced in Guides: Natchez, Mississippi

Campbell, James C. Letter, 1836. 1 item. Location: Misc.:C. Tavern keeper in Natchez, Mississippi. Letter describes efforts to obtain employment in Rodney, Jefferson County, and Natchez, Mississippi; poor business conditions; and employment conditions in the tavern. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3120.

Referenced in Guides: Business, Natchez, Mississippi

Capell family. Papers, 1816-1931 (bulk 1840-1880). 1 linear ft.; 30 volumes. Location: U:299; F:11; OS:C; MSS.MF:C, VAULT:1, VAULT MRDF 6. Planters and merchants of Amite and Wilkinson Counties in Mississippi. Eli Jackson Capell was a planter of Pleasant Hill Plantation in Amite County and operated a store near Rose Hill, Mississippi. His son Henry Clay was an attorney in Centerville. Business and plantation papers and legal documents comprise the bulk of this collection. These include land deeds; invoices and correspondence regarding shipping cotton; slave bills of sale; diaries, ledgers, and scrapbooks that document daily activities of Pleasant Hill Plantation; and a daybook from the Rose Hill store. Personal correspondence includes two letters from Jefferson Davis and letters of recommendation written for Henry Clay Capell when he was seeking employment with the federal government. Available (with some omissions) on microfilm: University Publications of America Records of Southern Plantations from Emancipation to the Great Migration, Series B, Part 4, Reel 2. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 56, 257, 1751, 2501, 2597.

Capell, Eli J. (Eli Jackson), 1814-1888. Family Papers, 1840-1932 (bulk 1886-1900). 1.3 linear ft., 16 v. Location: E:47-48, F:11, OS:C, Mss.Mf:C. Planter of Pleasant Hill Plantation, Amite County, Mississippi. Capell also operated a store near Rose Hill, Mississippi. Correspondence and business records of the Capell family and related Crawford family. Business, plantation, and legal papers include letters, accounts, and invoices with cotton factors and memorandum books of cotton and merchandise sold; labor contracts and laborersÆ record book; land deeds; and records from the Rose Hill store. Family correspondence from Crawford relatives (1880-1899) relates geographic, economic, race relations, health, and social conditions in parts of Missouri, Texas, Colorado, Utah, and Montana, and letters to Capell daughters concern news of friends, personal relationships, and social activities (1865-1879). Available (with some omissions) on microfilm: University Publications of America Records of Southern Plantations from Emancipation to the Great Migration, Series B, Part 4, Reels 3-5. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 674.

Carson, William Waller. Letter, 1923. 1 item. Location: 32:81. Sergeant-major in the 4th Louisiana Cavalry in the Civil War. Letter recounts his Civil War experiences, including an unsuccessful operation to capture the U.S. gunboat RATTLER at Natchez, Mississippi. Unprocessed collections list. Mss. 4068.

Referenced in Guides: Civil War, Natchez, Mississippi

Carson, William Waller. Letter, 1923 Dec. 13. 1 item. Location: Misc.: C. Sergeant-major in the 4th Louisiana Cavalry in the Civil War. Letter recounts his Civil War experiences in northeastern Louisiana, the capture of Louis Dent, the brother-in-law of General Ulysses S. Grant, insubordination and discipline in the army, and the remedies used to prevent scurvy. Carson also describes a failed attempt to capture the United States gunboat, RATTLER, at Natchez, Miss., and he discusses the philosophy of slavery, particularly the fiscal aspect. A typed transcript (undated) accompanies the letter. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4068.

Referenced in Guides: Civil War, Natchez, Mississippi

Cartwright, Samuel A. (Samuel Adolphus) and family. Papers, 1826-1864. 67 items, 2 manuscript volumes. Location: U:109, Vault. Physician of Natchez, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Cartwright was a Confederate army physician, and at one time a professor of diseases of the African American in the Medical Department of the University of Louisiana. Papers include correspondence, photoprints, and a European travel diary. Correspondence relates to politics, slavery, and education in the South, including letters from Jefferson Davis and other prominent individuals. Included is a treatise on 'camp dysentery' written by Cartwright. For further information, see online catalog. Filed under Cartwright, Samuel Adolphus. Papers in Archives USA. Mss. 2471, 2499.

Cartwright, Samuel A. (Samuel Adolphus). Prescription, 1833. 1 item. Location: MISC:C. Physician of Natchez, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Cartwright was a Confederate army physician, and at one time a professor of diseases of the African-Americans in the Medical Department of the University of Louisiana. Prescription for cholera. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 672.

Claiborne, William C. C. (William Charles Cole). Letter and engraving, 1810 November 14. 2 items. Location: MISC:C, VAULT:1. Governor of the Territory of Orleans, first governor of the State of Louisiana. Letter written to G. W. Sevier, commander of a garrison in Hiwassee, Tennessee, requests use of a soldier to guide him from Hiwassee to Natchez. Included is an undated engraving of Claiborne. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3031.

Referenced in Guides: Natchez, Mississippi

Claiborne, William C. C. (William Charles Cole). Letter book, 1804-1811 (bulk 1804-1805). 3 items, 1 vol. Location: OS:C, VAULT:4, MSS.MF:C. Governor of the Territory of Orleans, first governor of the State of Louisiana. Correspondence concerns Claiborne's administration, relations with Native Americans, problems with the importation of slaves, Louisiana bank, Spanish land grants and land surveys in the Natchez District, and Catholic disputes in the district of Saint Bernard. Legislative act provides reimbursement for damaged houses and slaves killed or executed during the slave insurrection (April 25, 1811). One item in French. Letter book available on microfilm. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 71, 603, 965.

Commercial Bank of Natchez. Records, 1835-1864. 151 vols. (17.6 linear ft.). Location: M:1-8. The Commercial Bank of Natchez operated in Natchez, Mississippi, with branches in Brandon, Holmesville, and Shieldsboro, Mississippi. Records of the bank and its branches include manuscript volumes of signatures, check records, ledgers, deposit receipts, account balances, credits, loans, exchanges, certificates, pass books, powers of attorney, and probate court records. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 708.

Referenced in Guides: Business, Natchez, Mississippi

Conner, Lemuel Parker and family Papers, 1810-1953, 1985 (bulk 1850-1940). 12.5 linear feet and 28 volumes. Location: AA:, A:106-117, 120-121, 98:C, OS:C, 65: Vault:34, J:24. Planter from Natchez, Mississippi. Papers include correspondence, cotton statements, legal and business papers (including slave testimony in an alleged slave uprising, 1861), plantation records, and Civil War papers of Confederate soldiers and civilians, family letters from LSU and Smith College, and First Presbyterian Church (Natchez) records. Also included are papers of Levin R. Marshall, the Sessions family, and Henry R. Chotard; 256 pieces of published sheet music (1824-1883); a minstrel show program (1879); and miscellaneous programs of Natchez concerts and music recitals. Available (with some omissions) on microfilm 5322: University Publications of America Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations Series I, Part 3, Reels 14-18. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 81, 1403, 1431, 1475, 1551, 1595, 1710, 1793, 1859, 1934, 1999.

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