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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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

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