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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Quitman, John Anthony, 1798-1858. Letter, 1848 April 29. 1 item. Location: Misc. Natchez, Mississippi lawyer, soldier, politician, and planter. Letter from 'Monmouth' to Peter G. Washington listing a series of biographical and factual corrections possibly for Frost's history of the Mexican War published about that time. Filed in the online catalog under Quitman, John A., 1798-1858. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2139.

Referenced in Guides: Politics, Plantations, Natchez, Mississippi

Quitman, John Anthony, 1798-1858. Note, 1855. 2 items. Location: Misc.:Q. Natchez, Mississippi lawyer, soldier, politician, and planter. Items include an autographed note to the Library of Congress and a brief published biographical sketch. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1955.

Referenced in Guides: Politics, Plantations, Natchez, Mississippi

R. Viener and Company. Records, 1880-1936 (bulk 1893-1930). 27 linear ft., 494 ms. vols., 9 printed vols. Location: K:1-33, 128:. Wholesale grocery, feed, flour, and paper firm in Natchez, Mississippi. R. Viener was the treasurer of the B'nai Israel Congregation of Natchez. Records include financial and business documents related to the company, and cashbooks and record accounts of the B'nai Israel Congregation. Records also include commercial and mercantile reference books, books about buying cotton, and a telegraphic code book. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 518.

Referenced in Guides: Religion, Business, Natchez, Mississippi

Rabb, Nicholas, b. 1799. Family Papers, 1799-1919 (bulk 1836-1876). 99 items,(8 vols. (on 1 microfilm) Location: Mss.Mf:R. Blacksmith and planter of Jefferson and Madison counties, Mississippi. His oldest son, Constantine N. Rabb, was a planter and general merchant of Madison County, Mississippi, and Evangeline and Vernon parishes, Louisiana. Papers include diaries, memoranda, daybooks, and a record book, documenting plantation management, social life, and blacksmith fees. Rabb family genealogical information is in the record book. Constantine Rabb's papers (1851-1905) include letters, tax receipts, and other items reflecting his work as a planter and general merchant. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1843.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Business, Natchez, Mississippi

Raffle of the famous trotting stallion Henry Ward Beecher, circa 1847-1887. 1 item. Location: EPHEMERA COLLECTION SUBGROUP VI. 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

Randolph, John H. (John Hampden) 1813-1883. Family letters, ca. 1780-1860. 23 items. Location: W:3. Lawyer, planter, and circuit court judge. Randolph was born in Virginia and moved with his family to Wilkinson County, Mississippi, in 1819. In 1841 he moved to Iberville Parish, Louisiana, where he owned Nottoway Plantation. Letters written from Virginia, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana by various members of the Randolph family discuss family matters, plantation crops, and the family's move from Virginia to Louisiana. An early letter (1820) describes traveling through Indian territory. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4673.

Referenced in Guides: Sugar, Plantations, Natchez, Mississippi

Randolph, John H. (John Hampden). Papers, 1823-1890 (bulk 1834-1889). 1.3 linear ft. Location: A:123-124, OS:R, Vault:21. Lawyer, planter, and circuit court judge. Randolph was born in Virginia and moved with his family to Wilkinson County, Mississippi, in 1819. In 1841 he moved to Iberville Parish, Louisiana, where he owned Nottoway Plantation. Collection includes records and documents related to Randolph's cotton and sugar plantations in Woodville, Wilkinson County, Mississippi, and Iberville and Catahoula parishes, Louisiana. Includes items related to the White League, an organization which promoted white racial interests in Louisiana. Available (with some omissions) on microfilm: UPA Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations Series I, Part 1, Reels 14-15. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 355, 356.

Ratcliff, Olivia J. Speech, 1866. 1 item [typed transcription]. Location: Misc.:R. Speech delivered by Ratcliff on the presentation of a stone for Confederate monument erected at Liberty, Amite County, Mississippi. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 358.

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

Redhead, Joseph. Joseph and John A. Redhead diary, 1853-1870. 1 ms. vol. (on microfilm). Location: Mss.Mf:R. Doctor and planter of Wilkinson County, Mississippi. Diary and letters copied in it describe plantation activities and his family's experience of the Civil War. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1374.

Reed, Thomas, 1817-1891. Family Papers, 1787-1926 (bulk 1840-1890). 243 items, 8 vols. Location: A:12 and OS:R. Attorney in Natchez and resident of Cottage Home Plantation, Mississippi. Collection includes a land claim by the city of Natchez, documents related to Reed's law career, personal letters, genealogies, newspaper clippings, notes on Natchez history, and a bank book. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 783.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Natchez, Mississippi

Reiff, Anton. Journal, 1856-1857. 1 ms. vol. 1 microfilm reel. Location: Misc.:R, Mss.Mf:R. Musician touring with the Pyne and Harrison Opera Company from New York to New Orleans. Diary records daily activities, comments on theater facilities, musical performances attended, music in churches visited, scenery and social customs, and other matters. Reiff recorded his impressions of steamboat travel and his visits to Memphis, Tennessee; Natchez, Mississippi; Baton Rouge; and other cities. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3274.

Salisbury Plantation: papers, 1858-1900 (bulk 1894). 3 items, including 2 vols. Location: Misc:S, M:18. Salisbury Plantation was located near Woodville, Wilkinson County, Mississippi. A plantation record book contains accounts of payments made to laborers for cotton picked and work in turnip patches, as well as purchases made by laborers and crop estimates. Includes a school notebook of Arthur Crisfield of Maryland and a letter from Seymoura Scudder to Mrs. Shepherd of Salisbury Plantation commenting on house guests and plans for a trip to Tennessee. Available on microfilm 6061: University Publications of America Records of Southern Plantations from Emancipation to the Great Migration, Series B, Part 4, Reel 12. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1749.

Schwartz, John C. Papers, 1810, 1848-1932 (bulk 1865-1911). 4.5 linear ft., 66 volumes, 1 microfilm reel. Location: A:19-21; J:20-23; OS:S; R:22; R:26; MSS.MF:S. Schwartz owned and operated a retail hardware store in Natchez, Mississippi. Beginning around 1892, he worked in partnership with R. H. Stewart. Consists chiefly of business letters, receipts, orders, price lists, freight receipts, steamer bills of lading, and hardware advertising letters. Bound volumes include two cashbooks (1875-1881), 25 daybooks (1865-1891), twelve invoice books (1867-1895), four ledgers (1871-1890), and ten letter books (1885-1898). Mss. 385, 4732.

Referenced in Guides: Business, Natchez, Mississippi

Sellars, Archibald. Document, 1818. 1 item. Location: Misc.:S Pass permitting Dr. Archibald Sellars to travel through South Carolina on his way to Amite County, Mississippi, with four slaves, issued in Robeson County, North Carolina. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 325.

Shepherd family. Papers. 1788-1884. 0.5 linear ft. Location: OS:S, VAULT:1, VAULT MRDF 4. Shepherd family of Salisbury Plantation, Wilkinson County, Mississippi. Papers relate primarily to the sale and transfer of land in Wilkinson County. Also includes Moses Hooke's armed services appointment (March 11, 1799), an agreement with Secretary of War, Henry Dearborn, for Oliver Ormsby to provide rations to U.S. troops (May 24, 1804), a deed and abstract for Woodstock Plantation, which belonged to Richard Butler, and documents concerning the estates of Richard Butler and Harriet Browder. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2718.

Shields, Joseph D. (Joseph Dunbar), 1820-1886. Papers, 1802-1960 (bulk 1843-1897). 1802-1960 (bulk 1843-1897). 712 items, 4 ms. Vols., 2 printed vols. Location: T:37-T:44; 99:S; Vault; OS: S. Resident of Natchez who was a judge, legislator, planter, and author. His son Joseph Dunbar Shields, Jr., served under J. E. B. Stuart in the Civil War and was killed at Culpepper, Virginia. Papers consist of personal, political, financial, Civil War, and plantation management correspondence and papers; historical, literary, legal, and political manuscripts; and printed items, documenting three generations of the Shields family. Includes letters from Joseph Dunbar Shields while attending the Univeristy of Virginia and drafts of his writings. Plantation papers relate to the family's plantation Pecano, in Waterproof, Tensas Parish, Louisiana. 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 12-15, or Southern Women and Their Families in the 19th Century: Papers and Diaries, Series E, Reel 34. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 390, 1526, 1542, 1709, 1821, 1996, 2053.

Shlenker-Hirsch-Moyse family. Papers, 1878-1949, (bulk 1878-1896, 1907-1909, 1941-1949). 50 items, 2 volumes. Location: W:13. Jewish families of Mississippi and Louisiana. Correspondence, photographs, printed items, and two scrapbooks concern family matters, business life, and personal and social activities, particularly the wedding of Carrie Shlenker and Jacob Hirsch. Newspaper clippings also relate to the activities of the prominent Texas Rabbi Henry Cohen. Other items include Jewish-themed, printed illustrations. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4911.

Slowey, Robert M. Photographs, circa 1961-1979. 1,912 color slides [35mm]. Location: V:48. 1941 graduate of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, La. Images depict various plantations (buildings, grounds, and remains), historic markers, churches, banks, schools, museums, courthouses, hospitals, cemeteries, ruins, landscapes, and other architectural sites in Louisiana and Mississippi. Mss. 4598.

Smith, Philander. Letter, 1806 April 27. 1 item. Resident of Natchez, Mississippi. Letter from Smith to his brother Jedideah Smith of Massachusetts, relating his economic status, political views, and cost of living conditions of planters. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 634.

Referenced in Guides: Politics, Plantations, Natchez, Mississippi

Smith, R. M. Letter, 1862 July 20. 1 item. Location: Misc.:S. Confederate civilian in Homochitto, Franklin County, Mississippi. Letter to Smith's cousin commenting on his personal illness and perplexities caused by the Civil War. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2133.

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

Smylie-Montgomery Family Papers, 1807-1919 (bulk 1807-1869). 1.25 linear ft. Location: C:116-117, OS:S. Family of Mississippi planters and Presbyterian ministers. Correspondence comprises the bulk of this collection, with some Church records and personal papers. Collection reflects the Presbyterian Church in Mississippi, plantation life, cotton, and family matters, with references to the Choctaw Indians, the behavior of slaves, and economic difficulties after the Civil War. For more information, see online catalog. Mss. 5038.

Snyder, Alonzo. Papers, 1779-1919 (bulk 1800-1861). 3,534 items, 6 volumes. Location: R:38-40, J;7, OS:S. Cotton planter, judge, and Louisiana senator from Madison and Tensas parishes, Louisiana. Snyder's business, official, and personal papers consist of letters, land records, financial papers, and legal record books that reflect legal cases, state laws, politics, plantation management, secession, the Civil War, public health, and his family. Snyder served as attorney for the estate of Jacob Bieller of Concordia Parish, Louisiana, and these files include correspondence and reports from Natchez, Mississippi, businessmen. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 655.

Stanton family. Papers, 1834, 1844. 2 items [photocopies]. Location: MISC:S. Residents of Natchez, Mississippi. An act of sale for slaves purchased by William Stanton from Isaac and James R. Franklin of Tennessee; and an agreement between two law firms regarding the distribution of fees for services in the case of the American Colonization Society vs. Isaac Wade. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 402.

Steele, Archibald B. Family Papers, 1830-1897, undated 22 items, 1 ms. vol. Location: Mss. Mf.:S. Planter and merchant of Amite County, Mississippi. Papers include business records, a family letter (1853), and a journal of Archibald Steele (1832-1840). For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2645.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Business, Natchez, Mississippi

Steele, John. Letter, between 1803 and 1809. 1 letter. Location: Misc. John Steele in Natchez, Miss., writes Major James Taylor in Campbell County, Ky., giving him power of attorney to aid his brother, William Steele, in selling some of his land in Kentucky in exchange for commodities to sell in Natchez. Mss. 3922.

Referenced in Guides: Business, Natchez, Mississippi

Stewart, Robert H. and family. Account books, 1822-1904. 0.5 linear ft., 57 volumes, 8 microfilm reels. Location: UU:211, H:18-19, J:23, MSS.MF:S. Mortician and furniture dealer of Natchez; and owner of Edler Grove Plantation at Bunch's Bend, Carroll Parish, Louisiana. Collection includes daybooks related to the mortuary business, ledgers and inventories related to the furniture business, and a plantation diary and record books. Of note is a ledger containing a list of African American funeral directors and benevolent societies. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 404, 4732.

Stewart, Sarah A. Account books, 1866-1874. 2 vols. Location: J:12. Stewart leased Magnolia Plantation, owned by the Fort family of Bayou Sara, West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana; and owned Holly Grove Plantation near Woodville, Wilkinson County, Mississippi. Record book for Magnolia Plantation containing copies of contracts and accounts with freedmen (1866-1870) and a record book for Holly Grove Plantation listing plantation expenses (1873-1874). For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 965.

Stratton, Joseph B. (Joseph Buck). Papers. 1746-1916 (bulk 1843-1903). 0.9 linear ft., 2 microfilm reels. Location: A:53-54, B:69, OS:S, MSS.MF:S. Presbyterian minister of Natchez, Mississippi. Dr. Stratton's 46-volume diary (1843-1903) contains information about his activities as a minister. Activities and events described include travel in Europe, weddings and funerals, baptisms, prayer meetings, yellow fever epidemics, and the Civil War. Available (with some omissions) on microfilm 5735: University Publications of America Confederate Military Manuscripts Series B, Reel 18. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 464, 1329.

Stratton, Sidney V. Collection, 1891-1914. 8 vols. Location: A:53-54. Resident of Natchez and the son of Joseph Buck Stratton. Scrapbook collection consisting mainly of newspaper and magazine articles and pictures. Subjects include Stratton family genealogy; German, French, Italian, and American architecture; the town of Natchez; and events of the day. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 290.

Referenced in Guides: Natchez, Mississippi

Surget, Francis. Estate papers, 1848-1867. 83 items. Location: C:54, OS:S. Land speculator, planter, and one of the largest slaveholders of the antebellum South with more than 10,000 slaves. Surget had extensive holdings in Louisiana and Arkansas. Collection includes papers related to management of Surget's estates in Natchez; an examination and appraisal of lands in Arkansas; and papers related to an estate in Mississippi. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 12, 749.

Taylor, Edna Baker. Post card album, circa 1906-1908. 2 vols. Location: J:17. Resident of Natchez, Mississippi. Albums contain post cards of various public and private buildings, homes, and parks in Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston, New York City, and Toronto. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1225.

Referenced in Guides: Women, Natchez, Mississippi

Taylor, F. Letter, 1837. 1 item. Location: Misc.:T. Resident of Natchez, Mississippi. Personal letter from F. Taylor, Natchez, Miss. to F. Hardity of Clinton, La., relates to debts and failure to visit. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 133.

Referenced in Guides: Natchez, Mississippi

Taylor, Miles, 1805-1873. Family Papers, 1821-1954 (bulk 1821-1890). 200 items. Location: U:236, 99. Congressional representative, lawyer, judge, and sugar planter of Assumption Parish, Louisiana. Taylor's son, Thomas, was a sergeant in the 8th Louisiana Volunteers in the Civil War. Collection includes family letters, photographs, manuscript writings, genealogical and biographical materials, and reprints of speeches Taylor made in Congress (1856-1857). Mrs. Taylor's mother lived in Natchez and the collection includes letters between the two of them; and Civil War letters from Thomas Taylor as a prisoner of war in Saratoga Springs, New York. Available (with some omissions) on microfilm 5735: University Publications of America Confederate Military Manuscripts Series B, Reels 18-19. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1378, 1448, 1636, .

Terry, William. Family Papers, 1766-1896 (bulk 1860-1869). 67 items. Location: A:63. Residents of Pine Woods, Jefferson County, Mississippi, and was related to the Jefferies, Baillio, and Ellett families. Papers include correspondence; a military discharge (1766); a Spanish land grant (1795); and photographs of family homes and plantations. Civil War correspondence contains two letters apparently written by Solomon, a family slave (1862). Available on microfilm 5735: University Publications of America Confederate Military Manuscripts Series B, Reel 19. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 915.

Texada family. Papers, 1856-1999 (bulk 1865-1898). 1 linear foot, 4 oversize folders. Location: 119:7, OS:T. The Texada family, originally from Spain, immigrated to Natchez, Mississippi. In 1864, they moved to Rapides Parish, Louisiana, where they were significant landholders and planters. This collection consists of correspondence and genealogical materials. The genealogical materials include research and notes, newspaper clippings, photographs, copies of vital records, and excerpts from publications relating to the Texada family and the extended family including the Ker, Davidson, Pintard, Landers, Hickman, Luckett, and Peyton families. The bulk of the correspondence is from the Civil War period and is written to Margaret Ker Davidson Texada. The letters are predominately from Charles V. Cosby, her cousin; Joseph Welsh Texada, her husband; and John Pintard Davidson, her father. Mss. 5119.

Tiernan, Charles. Letters, 1838-1839. 2 items. Location: Misc.:T. New Orleans agent for the commission firm of Luke Tiernan & Co. of Baltimore, Md. Tiernan comments on economic conditions caused by the Panic of 1837, financial losses by the Commercial Bank of Natchez, and remarks on payments to the Bank of New Orleans. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2106.

Trudeau, Charles Laveau, approximately 1750-1816. Land surveys, 1794-1800. 3 land surveys. Location: MISC:T. Charles Laveau Trudeau (Carlos Laveau Trudeau) was appointed surveyor general of Spanish Louisiana in the early 1780s. He resigned in 1805. The Charles Laveau Trudeau land surveys include three surveys (in Spanish) dating 1794, 1799, and 1800 created by Charles Laveau Trudeau. The areas surveyed include the Natchez District of Don Juan Oconor (1794) and Feliciana District of Frederico Kimball el Joven (1799). The 1794 survey was signed by Francisco Luis Hector de Carondelet. Mss. 5132.

Referenced in Guides: Spanish, Natchez, Mississippi

Trudeau, Charles. Land survey, 1795. 1 land survey. Location: MISC:T. Surveyor general of Spanish Louisiana in the early 1780s and served in that capacity to 1805. Survey (in Spanish) of the land of George Forman of the Natchez District. Forman's land was bounded by that of William Ervin, Richard Willis, and J. Johnston. The survey shows land boundaries and the location of trees. Mss. 4815.

Referenced in Guides: Spanish, Natchez, Mississippi

Turner, Edward and family. Papers, 1767-1878 (bulk 1811-1878). 173 items, 1 volume. Location: S:120, OS:T, VAULT:1. Judge and planter of Natchez, Mississippi. Collection includes family correspondence, legal and business papers, plantation documents, poems, photographs, a specimen of currency (1778), and an issue of the newspaper Southern Watch Tower (1843). For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1403.

United States. Army of the Tennessee. Papers, 1863. 3 items. Location: E:74. Papers include a letter concerning shipment of confiscated cattle and the overcrowded conditions in Natchez, Miss., due to the large number of runaway slaves. Ransom tells of attempts to return some slaves to their masters and keeping others in corrals within the city. He comments that the citizenry fears the outbreak of an epidemic because of the overcrowding. Military orders concern troop movements in the Yazoo Expedition during the Vicksburg campaign. Part of the United States Army Collection. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 546, 551.

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