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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Kaine, Alice J. Cutright. Papers, 1880-1881, 1893. 8 letters, 1 diary. Location: Misc. Alice J. Cutright was an active member on the Board of the Wisconsin Industrial School for Girls, an advisor to Tuskegee Institute (1894-1896), and in 1898 became the first woman appointed to the Wisconsin State Board of Control for Prisons. The papers consist of four letters and a travel diary written by her during a trip down the Mississippi River from Springfield, Ill., to New Orleans, La., in March-April 1880. Personal letters received from friends and acquaintances in New Orleans are also included. For further information see online catalog. Mss. 3886.

Keary, Patrick F. Letters, 1848-1855. 19 items. Location: Misc. Planter of Ben Lomand Plantation, Wilkinson County, Mississippi. Letters to Wylie and Egana and Juan Y. de Egana, brokers in New Orleans, concerning business and plantation matters on Keary's cotton plantation, Ben Lomand, and his sugar plantation Catalpa Grove, on Bayou Boeuf, Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1053.

Ker, John, 1789-1850. Thesis, 1811. 1 item [typescript copy]. Location: Misc.:K. Medical doctor of Good Hope Plantation of Concordia Parish, Louisiana, the father of Mary Susan and William H. Ker. Thesis presented by John Ker in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 945.

Referenced in Guides: Education, Medicine, Natchez, Mississippi

Ker, John, 1789-1850. Family Papers, 1803-1862. 27 items, 1 vol. Location: S:108. Medical doctor of Good Hope Plantation of Concordia Parish, Louisiana, and the father of Mary Susan and William H. Ker. Papers include letters from Stephen Duncan, Sr., of Natchez, Mississippi, and Philadelphia, to Dr. John Ker; and Civil War letters from William H. Ker, a Confederate soldier. Collection also includes a diary (1850-1851) of Mary Susan Ker with details on family life after her father's death. Available on microfilm 5750: University Publications of America Southern Women and Their Families in the 19th Century: Papers and Diaries Series E, Reel 15. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3539.

Ker, William H. Letters, 1861-1864. 11 items. Location: U:182. Natchez, Mississippi, resident and Confederate private in the Jefferson Davis Legion, Mississippi Cavalry, in the Civil War. Collection contains letters from Ker to his sister concerning his observations and reflections during service in Virginia, Alabama, and Georgia. Available on microfilm 5735: University Publications of America Confederate Military Manuscripts Series B, Reel 10. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 888.

Referenced in Guides: Civil War, Natchez, Mississippi

Kimball, Fredrick. Letters, 1804-1812, 1833. 21 items. Location: VAULT:11, MISC:K, MSS.MF:K. Cotton planter of Pinckneyville, Wilkinson County, Mississippi Territory. Letters (originals and transcriptions) refer to the embargo in the West Florida Rebellion, slaves for hire, and alleged mistreatment by the United States of the rights of persons in the Mississippi Territory after the annexation of the Florida Parishes to the Union. Mss. 893.

Knapp, James S. Family Papers, 1849-1909 (bulk 1865-1895). 1,187 items, 16 vols. Location: U:182-185, OS:K. Dentist and dean of the New Orleans Dental College. Early papers include dental bills and receipts; and the charter for the New Orleans Dental College. Post-1865 papers concern the Louisiana Dental Association and the New Orleans Dental College. Also included are personal papers. Papers of J. Rollo Knapp deal with his dental practice. Frederick H. Knapp's papers include certificates from the Board of Medical Censors of Adams County, Mississippi, and the University of Havana. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 880.

Leathers, Thomas P. and family. Papers, 1823-1952 (bulk 1823-1898). 1.3 linear ft., 1 volume, 2 microfilm reels. Location: UU:116-117, 65:60, H:1, OS:L, VAULT:23, VAULT:38, MSS.MF:L. Steamboat master and owner, and native of Kentucky. Papers mainly relate to steamboat transportation and commerce on the Mississippi River in Louisiana and Mississippi. Collection also includes a pardon (1865) by President Andrew Johnson for Leathers' arrest as a Confederate spy in the Civil War. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1548.

Leet, Edwin. Letters, 1864-1865. 5 items. Location: Misc:L. Resident of Bayou Sara, West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, and a Confederate soldier of the 3rd Louisiana Cavalry during the Civil War. Civil War letters from Leet to his wife, Sarah A. Leet. Letters written from Liberty, Amite County, Mississippi, relate personal and family news. A letter (1865) written from Sumpter County, Alabama, after Lee's surrender at Appomattox, expresses doubt about optimistic war news announced by Confederate officers. Available on microfilm 5735: University Publications of America Confederate Military Manuscripts Series B, Reel 22. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1353.

Referenced in Guides: Civil War, Natchez, Mississippi

Leverich, Charles P. Correspondence, 1834-1847. 81 items. Location: A:56. Factor of New York City associated with J. H. Leverich and Company of New Orleans. Correspondence consists of letters from New Orleans merchants, factors and Louisiana and Mississippi planters discussing the sguar trade. Letters from St. Mary Parish planters refer to shipping sugar and other cargo, a mortgage on Leonidas Polk's plantation, floods, and the parish's health. Letter from William J. Minor of Natchez mentions his interest in horse racing and his son's finances. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1078, 1220, 1352, 1506, 2418.