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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Hoover, Charles. Document, 1820. 1 item. Location: Misc. Resident of Lawrence County, Mississippi. Letters patent issued to Charles Hoover by the General Land Office of the United States for lands west of the Pearl River registered with the land office and directed to be sold at Washington, Adams County, Mississippi. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 893.

Referenced in Guides: Natchez, Mississippi

Hunt, David. Family Papers, 1803-1838. 20 items. Location: U:158. Planters of Natchez, Mississippi. Personal and business letters to Abijah Hunt, wealthy merchant and slave holder of the Natchez District, and to his nephew, David Hunt, who amassed a large fortune as his successor. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 517.

Hunt, David and Anne F. Memorial, [1874]. 1 item. Location: E:96, E:Imprints. Wealthy planters of Natchez, Mississippi. Biographical sketch of David Hunt (1779-1861) and of his wife Anne Ferguson Hunt (1797-1874). For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3256.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Natchez, Mississippi

Hunt, David, 1779-1861. Letters, 1803-1839 (bulk 1820-1829). 95 letters. Location: UU:288. With numerous cotton plantations and a significant number of slaves, David Hunt was one of the wealthiest cotton merchants in Mississippi, and indeed one of the wealthiest men in the United States. The David Hunt Letters consist of correspondence, both personal and business, between cotton merchant David Hunt and various family members and business associates. For further information, see online catalog, Mss. 4788

Inman, B. R. (Benajah R.), b. 1820. Family Papers, 1808-1888. .2 linear ft. (68 items). Location: B:50. Planter of Wilkinson County, Mississippi. Inman inherited Smithland Plantation in 1863 from his aunt, Nancy Quine. Collection includes financial records; legal materials; correspondence; and miscellaneous and printed items. The financial and legal records document Smithfield Plantation and a dry goods store on it. Business letters to John Lee, a purchasing agent in New Orleans, deal with the price of cotton and other commodities. Slave bills of sale and labor contracts with sharecroppers are included. Available on microfilm 5322: University Publications of America Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations Series I, Part 2, Reel 11. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 893.

Jackson, Isaac F., d. 1864? Family Papers, 1827-1874 (bulk 1861-1869). 120 items, 2 vols. Location: E:41. Land owner, Amite County, Mississippi. He was married to Lettie V. Jackson (nee Wilson), also from Amite County. Papers are chiefly financial documents of the Jacksons and Wilsons. Legal papers include items related to the sale of land and litigation among family members. Correspondence includes personal letters of Isaac, Lettie, and Isaac's brother Joseph R. Kemp. Papers include the release of J. R. Kemp from a prisoner of war camp (1863). For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 698.

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

Jenkins, John C. (John Carmichael) and family. Papers, 1837-1900 (bulk 1840-1855). 100 items, 14 volumes. Location: B:66, G:21, OS:J, Vault:72. Experimental agriculturist and horticulturist and resident of Elgin Plantation, Adams County, Mississippi. Personal papers and diary of the Jenkins family. The diary records results of Jenkins' experiments at Elgin, plantation routine, financial transactions, travel, and social and literary activities. Purchases of slaves and health of slaves are noted. Jenkins' account book shows expenditures for the home, family, plantations, and slaves. Correspondence includes Civil War letters from Jenkins' son, a Confederate soldier. Also available on microfiche 2729 (Southern Historical Manuscripts, Plantation Records 1799-1900). Does not include 1846 letter, which was acquired after filming. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 141, 142, 184, 187.

Johns-Manville Products Corporation. Timberland records, 1939-1972. 26 linear ft., 2 vols. Location: IMJMT (offsite, contact for details. ) OS:J. Regional office of a forest products corporation in Natchez, Mississippi. Records document managed timberlands in Southwest Mississippi and include timber and land sales; materials on forestry organizations; correspondence; policies; costs and returns; wood procurement records; photographs; a draft history; and scrapbooks. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2679.

Referenced in Guides: Business, Natchez, Mississippi

Johnson, Rachel. Letter, 1815 Jan. 1 item [photocopy]. Location: Misc. Resident of The Grove, Woodville, Wilkinson County, Mississippi. Family letter refers to the fighting between British and American forces around New Orleans, civilian unrest, and local and family news. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2641.

Johnson, William T and family. Papers, 1793-1937 (bulk 1830-1870). 6 linear ft., 54 volumes. Location: U:161-162, O:71-73, 65:, OS:J African American barber and planter of Natchez. Personal papers, commercial records, diaries, and music of the Johnson family reflecting the condition of cultured and educated free persons of color both before and after the Civil War. Available on microfilm 5322: University Publications of America Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations Series I, Part 4, Reels 1-6. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 529, 561, 597, 770, 926, 1093.