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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Duncan, Stephen, 1787-1867. Correspondence, 1817-1877. 158 items, 2 vols. Location: S:120. Planter and banker of Natchez, Mississippi. Correspondence includes letters from friends and family concerning social, political, and economic problems of Reconstruction. Papers include legal documents, bills, and receipts. A daybook includes lists of slaves present at Homochitto Plantation. Included is a diary of W. P. Duncan, son of Stephen Duncan, Jr., describing his travels in France and Italy. Available (with some omissions) on microfilm 6061 as the Stephen Duncan Family Papers, Mss. 1403, 1793: University Publications of America Records of Southern Plantations from Emancipation to the Great Migration, Series B, Part 4, Reel 5. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1403, 1431, 1551, 1595, 1793.

Duncan, Stephen and Stephen Duncan, Jr. Papers, 1846-1899. 255 items, 11 ms. Vols. Location: U:49, F:17, Mss.Mf:D. Planter and banker of Natchez, Mississippi. Duncan plantations included L'Argent, Auburn, Camperdown, Carlisle, Duncan, Duncannon, Duncansby, Ellisle, Homochitto, Middlesex, Oakley, Rescue, Reserve, and Attakapas. Correspondence, business papers, diaries, and plantation and personal records of Dr. Stephen Duncan and his son, Stephen, Jr., who also resided in New York City. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 126, 721.

Duncan, Stephen, 1787-1867. Letters, 1855, 1859-1860. 72 items. Location: U:65. Planter and banker of Natchez, Mississippi. Duncan plantations included L'Argent, Auburn, Camperdown, Carlisle, Duncan, Duncannon, Duncansby, Ellisle, Homochitto, Middlesex, Oakley, Rescue, Reserve, and Attakapas. Includes letters written by Duncan to his financial advisor, Charles Leverich, related to the economic and financial activities of a wealthy planter and land owner. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4641.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Natchez, Mississippi

Duncan, Stephen, Jr. Passport, 1871. 1 item. Location: OS:D. Resident of Natchez. Passport of Stephen Duncan, Jr. Also available on Microfiche 2729, Southern Historical Manuscripts, Plantation Records 1799-1900. Part of the George De Forest Collection. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1350.

Referenced in Guides: Natchez, Mississippi

Eggleston-Roach Papers, 1825-1903. 285 items, 6 vols. Location: U-51, OS:R. Planters of Wilkinson County and Vicksburg, Mississippi. Mrs. Elizabeth Eggleston of Vicksburg smuggled goods through Union lines to Confederate soldiers. She was subsequently imprisoned and banished from Vicksburg. Diaries and personal papers of members of the Gildart, Eggleston, and Roach families. Horace Nelson Gildart's diary gives an account of a journey through England and Ireland; Dick Hardaway Eggleston's diary records activities on Learmont Plantation. Included are correspondence and orders of Union military authorities concerning Elizabeth Eggleston's activities during the Civil War. Available (with some omissions) on microfilm 6061: University Publications of America Records of Southern Plantations from Emancipation to the Great Migration, Series B, Part 4, Reel 5. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 832.

Elliot, William St. John, 1800-1855. Papers,1824, 1835-1858.5 items. Location: OS:E. Cotton broker, planter, and owner of D'Evereaux Hall, Natchez, Miss. Among other properites in Adams County, Miss., he also owned Saragossa Plantation. Indentures and deeds for land in Adams County, Mississippi, purchased by William St. John Elliot from Stephen Duncan, Samuel A. Moore, and Henry Chotard; and a land survey of a plantation in Tensas Parish, La., owned by his wife, Anna F. Conner Bell Ruffin Elliot. Also includes a plat of land in Adams County owned by various members of the Conner family. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1147.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Women, Natchez, Mississippi

Ellis-Farar Papers, 1768-1871 (bulk 1804-1833). 308 items. Location: S:1; OS:E; Vault:21. Richard Ellis, planter of White Cliffs, Homochitto, and Laurel Hill plantations, Natchez. His children included Mary (who married Captain Benjamin Farar), Jane, and Abram. Papers document plantation management and include deeds, vouchers, correspondence with overseers, and receipts. Jane took a special interest in managing Laurel Hill. Personal correspondence deals with education, plantation life, and family news. Available (with some omissions) on microfilm: University Publications of America Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations Series I, Part 3, Reel 10. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1000.

Embree, Joseph. Family Papers, 1826-1884. .88 linear ft. (805 items, 1 vol.). Location: E:19-20. Cotton planter near Woodville, Wilkinson County, Mississippi, and soldier in the Confederate Army. Papers include letters, account statements of cotton brokers, land deeds, contracts, slave bills, receipts, and documents related to education in Wilkinson County. Includes a printed list of the 1879 Democratic state ticket. Available (with some omissions) on microfilm: University Publications of America Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations Series I, Part 2, Reels 10-11. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 693.

Evans, Nathaniel. Family Papers, 1791-1932 (bulk 1800-1850). 5 linear ft., 47 ms. vols. and 42 printed vols. Location: E:10-15, G:12, OS:E, 98:E, VAULT:6, VAULT:38, MICROFILM 5322. Postmaster and general merchant of Fort Adams, Wilkinson County, Mississippi; and owner of Oakland Plantation in West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana. Papers consist of business and family correspondence and plantation records. Available (with some omissions) on microfilm: University Publications of America Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations Series I, Part 2, Reels 1-10. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 670, 893, 913.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Business, Natchez, Mississippi

Exchange and Banking House of Brown & Johnston business letter, 1859 June 17. 1 business letter. Location: Misc. A.H. Arthur of the Exchange and Banking House of Brown & Johnston office in Vicksburg, Miss., writes to Alexander C. Ferguson of Natchez, Miss., regarding $10,425.00 in bank notes. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4400.

Referenced in Guides: Business, Natchez, Mississippi

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