The Mississippi Department of Archives and History | MDAH is the official site for the Mississippi State Archives.
[su_heading size=”24″]Online Collections[/su_heading]
(Not all electronic archival materials are featured on this site; there are many more items accessible through the online catalog. Some are limited to use in the archives due to copyright or other restrictions. In such cases, the catalog record will direct researchers to the archives’ media reading room for access.)
- Sovereignty Commission Online – The Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission was the state’s official counter civil rights agency from 1956–1973. The files in this online collection comprise the scanned originals with court-approved redactions requested by individuals named in the records along with additional information submitted by individuals named in the records who chose to file a rebuttal. The collection also includes the court-specified personal name index and links between rebuttal records and Commission records in which rebuttal submitters are mentioned. The files may be searched by personal name, folder title and number, or rebuttal respondent.
- 1927 Flood Photograph Collection – The Mississippi River Flood of 1927 displaced 700,000 people and killed 246. Water covered 170 counties across seven states, from Illinois to Louisiana. The 124 images in this collection document the inundation of the Mississippi Delta region from the perspective of Illinois Central Railroad flood committee members sent to survey railway damage. In addition to submerged rail lines and depots, they captured images of refugees camped along the levees and tracks, homes and businesses under water, and stranded livestock.
- Administration Papers (Mississippi Territory) – The Administration Papers are loose documents pertaining to the administration of the Mississippi Territory (1798-1817) by the four territorial governors (Winthrop Sargent, William C. C. Claiborne, Robert Williams, and David Holmes). The series includes papers of settlers, soldiers, and diplomats, as well as territorial, United States, and Indian officials. It includes first-hand accounts of frontier privations, political factions and intrigues (e.g. Aaron Burr’s arrest near Washington, Mississippi, for allegedly plotting against the United States), fluid relations and borders with adjacent territories belonging to European and Indian nations (including the territorial militia’s support of General Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812), and the day-to-day oversight of territorial government.
- Anti-Slavery Alphabet – Hannah and Mary Townsend submitted the Anti-Slavery Alphabet to the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society for its December 1846 fair to raise funds and inspire a new generation of abolitionists. The alphabet consists of sixteen pages of illustrated text and sold well enough to be reprinted for successive fairs. The MDAH alphabet is a first edition with hand-colored letters.
- Confederate Pension Applications (Mississippi) – In 1888 the state of Mississippi began providing pensions to former Confederate soldiers and sailors, as well as their widows and wartime servants residing in the state. The applications and, in some cases, supporting documentation contain a wealth of information about the military service, wartime experiences, and post-war quality of life of the applicants.
- Constitutions of the State of Mississippi – Mississippi’s four constitutions – the original Constitution of 1817, the post-Choctaw and Chickasaw Cessions Constitution of 1832, the Reconstruction era Constitution of 1868, and the enduring Constitution of 1890 – are presented together.
- Cooper Postcard Collection – The Forrest Lamar Cooper Postcard Collection of approximately 4600 color and black-and-white postcards offers a unique glimpse of Mississippi at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Images of small towns, mineral springs, agricultural and forestry activities, and railroads were preserved on the cards, though many of the sites and structures have disappeared in the intervening years.
- Coovert (J. C.) Photograph Collection – John Calvin Coovert was an award-winning photographer best known for his images of cotton culture and the Mississippi River in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The eight black-and-white photographs in the Coovert (J. C.) Photograph Collection include scenes of flood waters, flood refugees, levee construction, cotton pickers at work, the Delta Guards, and the Greenville Fire Department.
- Corinth, Miss. Collection – In the 1920s Corinth, Mississippi, was a community thriving at a juncture of agriculture and industry, as well as rail lines. Walter F. McCord owned the largest photography business, McCord’s Studio, and documented the Alcorn County seat: a residential street paving project, fire fighting and farm equipment, and local businesses and homes. The twenty photographs in the Corinth, Miss., Collection, were acquired from his daughter, Zelma Katherine McCord, in 1983.
- Crowe (Milburn J.) Photograph Album – In July 2005, Mound Bayou, Mississippi, historian Milburn Crowe donated to MDAH an album of ninety photographs of town fathers (and cousins) Isaiah Thornton Montgomery and Benjamin Titus Green, their family, and friends who included abolitionist Frederick Douglass and Bolivar County Circuit Clerk Joseph Emory Ousley. The Montgomerys and Greens were prosperous, well educated former slaves of Joseph Emory Davis (Confederacy President Jefferson’s older brother). The founding of Mound Bayou in 1887 was the culmination of their lifelong efforts to develop a self-sustaining African American community. Though faded with age, the photographs reveal the affluence and dignity of these nineteenth-century pioneers.
- Daniel, Al Fred, Photograph Collection – The Daniel Photograph Collection comprises nearly six hundred images dating from the late 1800s, most made of subjects in Jackson, Mississippi. Of special interest are panoramic photographs of early floods in downtown Jackson and photographs of the Mississippi Farmers Market, the Farish Street business district, the Old Capitol, and the Mississippi State Capitol. Other photographs feature businesses, churches, colleges, hospitals, public buildings, schools, politicians, and street scenes, as well as the tung oil industry in south Mississippi and Boy Scouts at campgrounds around the state.
- Educable Children Records (Mississippi), 1850-1965 – Educable children records have proven invaluable to researchers trying to locate elusive Mississippians, as some families missed by the state or federal census may be found in these records. The materials presented here include lists of educable (school age) children submitted by Mississippi counties to the state’s Secretary of State and Department of Education. The lists vary in content by year and may include such information as name, age, gender, race, election district or ward, name of parent or guardian, address, and reason for withdrawal from school.
- E. von Seutter Photograph Collection – Elisaeus von Seutter was a German immigrant who opened a photographic studio in Jackson, Mississippi, in the mid nineteenth century. The E. von Seutter Photograph Collection consists of 83 stereocards and photographs made between 1869 and 1909. The stereocards feature images of Jackson including the Old Capitol, churches, and scenes along the Pearl River. The photographs include portraits and images of the von Seutter family, home, and garden.
- Medgar and Myrlie Evers Papers – The papers are divided into four subgroups: the papers of Medgar Evers as Mississippi field secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; family papers of Medgar Evers; family papers of Myrlie Evers; and records relating to the case of the State of Mississippi v. Byron De La Beckwith. Related collections include:
- Foner (Thomas) Freedom Summer Papers – The collection consists of correspondence, a voter registration plan, photographs, and newsclippings from Thomas Foner’s work as a volunteer with the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project in 1964. The collection documents his work with the project and contains substantial information about the conditions faced by volunteers during the summer.
- Hamilton (Luther) Photograph Collection – Luther Myles Hamilton, Sr., (1869-1944) owned and operated a portrait studio out of a tent equipped with a portable darkroom in Crystal Springs, Mississippi, and his son, Luther Myles Hamilton, Jr., (1912-1994) collected the studio’s and family’s photographs, intending to publish a photographic history of Crystal Springs. The Luther Hamilton Photograph collection consists of 982 images of work and community activities in the American South during the early twentieth century. Formal portraits taken in the studio include town leaders Augustus Lotterhos, “The Father of Crystal Springs,” and Bryant Wesley Matthis, “The Cabbage King,” as well as pets and people of various ages and races. One of the earliest prints documents a Flag Day Parade in Crystal Springs in 1901. Some of the later snapshots include images of Franklin D. Roosevelt speaking in Tupelo, Mississippi, in 1934, and scenes from the son’s studies at Mississippi State College in the late 1930s and 1940s.
- Hargrove (Ralph) Photograph Collection – Ralph Hargrove began work as official photographer for the Jackson, Mississippi, Police Department in 1942. His collection documents police activities from 1927 until 1984, and his crime-scene photographs were crucial evidence in the 1994 conviction of Byron de la Beckwith for the murder of Medgar Evers. Other subjects include Jackson’s first African American policemen, U.S. Senator John C. Stennis, Mississippi Lieutenant Governor Charles Sullivan, Alabama Governor George Wallace, and a Jackson city vehicle known as “Thompson’s Tank.”
- Health Department Photograph Album – The state of Mississippi’s health improvement efforts and activities in the 1930s are depicted in this album. Subjects include tuberculosis care and prevention, midwifery, dental hygiene, sanitation, child health, malaria prevention, and public health nursing.
- Historical Maps – MDAH has digitized over 590 maps pulled from multiple collections in the Archives. They include hand-drawn as well as published representations of towns, localities, plantations, and battlefields. The maps trace the history of Mississippi from early exploration through colonial expansion, the territorial period, and statehood. Here’s an Inventory or Historic Maps of Mississippi.
- Hurricane Camille Photograph Collection – Hurricane Camille slammed into the Mississippi Gulf Coast around midnight on August 17, 1969. As it moved from Cuba to Virginia the storm system caused an estimated 259 deaths and $1.4 billion in damage. Until Katrina hit in 2005, Mississippians remembered Camille as the most catastrophic hurricane in the state’s history. MDAH has marked the fortieth anniversary of the storm with the creation of the Hurricane Camille Photograph Collection, seventy-three digitized photographs of the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, including images of damaged houses, churches, and commercial properties, as well as personnel from Keesler Air Force base in Biloxi contributing to the clean-up and recovery efforts.
- Hurricane Katrina Photographs, PI/2005.0024 – Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on the Mississippi Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005. Having grown up in Moss Point, a coastal town in the path of the storm, MDAH Graphic Records Curator Jeff Rogers found himself in demand as a guide for disaster recovery and assessment teams and national and regional archivists. The Hurricane Katrina Photographs document his first-hand observations of the destruction and recovery of several Mississippi communities.
- Jefferson Davis Estate Papers – Jefferson Davis (1808-1889) was the only president of the Confederate States of America. He spent most of his life in Mississippi and lived his final eleven years in Harrison County on the Gulf Coast. The complete Jefferson Davis will and probate file is available here in forty-eight scans of the original documents. The files may also be searched by category or personal name.
- Journal of the Proceedings with the Choctaw Nation – The “Journal of the Proceedings with the Choctaw Indians, 1826” describes two unsuccessful proposals for Choctaw land cession offered by United States commissioners between November 10, 1826, and November 16, 1826. The journal also tells of the negotiations between Choctaw lead David Folsom and William Clark, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, for peace between the Choctaws and the Osage and Delaware tribes.
- Lochinvar Photograph Album – The Lochinvar photograph album contains 46 albumen print photographs, ca. 1880-1891, that document Lochinvar, the Pontotoc County, Mississippi, plantation home of Robert Gordon, founder of Aberdeen, Mississippi, and his son, Col. James Gordon, Civil War soldier, politician, and sportsman. The anonymous photographer captured images of the house and grounds, family members and friends, ex-slaves and their quarters, and hunting expeditions.
- Mayo (Bettie Black) Diary Z/2037.000 – The Bettie Black Mayo Diary is a young woman’s personal account of the Civil War. Bettie Black wrote daily entries from January to September 1863 while staying with her uncle and aunt, J. S. and Martha J. Richardson, at their Yalobusha County, Mississippi, plantation. She also wrote a summary for the year 1865 after returning to Arkansas. Black detailed the household tasks she performed, her personal interactions with slaves, her uncle’s business affairs,. and some war news shared by her brother Sam, a member of Chalmer’s Brigade; her cousin Willie, a member of Scott’s Brigade; and her friend, Captain Stephens, a member of the McClung Rifles.
- McCardle (Mrs. W. H.) Photograph Collection – The McCardle photograph collection contains sixty-six images of nineteenth-century political, military, and religious figures, including Confederates Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, John C. Pemberton, and L. Q. C. Lamar, as well as Union general Alfred Pleasonton and Union admiral David Dixon Porter, and the first Episcopal bishop of Mississippi, William Mercer Green.
- Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Collection – The Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Collection provides a unique overview of Mississippi farm practices and land use from the late nineteenth through the early twenty-first centuries, as well as the institutional history of MFBF from its inception during the Great Depression. Images from the collection show the effects of natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods on agriculture; health and safety issues such as lifesaving and fire prevention techniques; visiting politicians, including several United States presidents; and the evolving roles of women in society.
- Mississippi State Capitol Building Photograph Album – Produced by the State House Commission, the album contains photographs of the construction of the Mississippi State Capitol building, commonly referred to as the “New Capitol,” taken between 1900 and 1903. It includes exterior views as well as photos of completed interior chambers, corridors, and staircases. Also of note are images of architects Theodore Link and Karl E. Link and a list of contents of the building’s cornerstone.
- Mississippi State Penitentiary (Parchman) Photo Collections – The Mississippi State Penitentiary, also known as Parchman Farm or simply Parchman, was established in Sunflower County in 1901 and became the main hub for Mississippi’s penal system. The two Mississippi State Penitentiary (Parchman) photograph collections, designated PI/1996.006 and PI/PEN/P37.4, showcase prison buildings, personnel, and convicts from around 1914 to the 1940s. The images include prisoners farming, constructing prison facilities, sewing, doing laundry, sharing a meal, playing baseball, and standing in line at the Parchman Post Office.
- Moncrief Photograph Collection – Winfred Moncrief, an award-winning newspaper photographer from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, donated his collection of photographs to MDAH in 1994. The collection of nearly 900 black-and-white photographs made between 1952 and 1968 features significant people—civil rights activists Charles Evers and Aaron Henry, Mississippi governors Ross Barnett and Paul B. Johnson Jr., and Alabama governor George Wallace, among others—and events—such as the 1953 Vicksburg tornado, nuclear testing in Lamar County, Mississippi, voter registration, a Ku Klux Klan rally, and the murder of civil rights activist Vernon Dahmer. The images in this online collection are scans from Mr. Moncrief’s original negatives. The collection may be browsed by thumbnails or searched by subject.
- Oral History Interviews with Sam H. Bowers, Jr. – Audio recordings and transcripts of three MDAH interviews with Samuel Holloway Bowers, Jr., recorded October 1983–November 1984. Also included is a handwritten manuscript in which Bowers clarifies and supplements answers given in the third interview. Bowers died November 6, 2006 in the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, where he was serving a life sentence received in 1998 for his role in the 1966 murder of Mississippi civil rights activist Vernon Dahmer.
- Painter (Milton McFarland, Sr.) Collection – Milton McFarland Painter Sr. taught himself photography from about 1912 to the 1920s, using a Kodak camera to take pictures of family, neighbors, shriners, politicians, celebrities, boats, and flood and tornado damage around his home in Friars Point, Mississippi, regions surrounding Coahoma County, and vacation stops across the western United States, Mexico, and Canada. Painter was especially interested in the Mississippi River, its levees and lakes, and steamboats that made frequent stops in Friars Point. The collection includes images of Chisms, Hebdons, and other neighbors in Friars Point; Governor Earl Brewer; and actors Charlie Chaplin, Ford Sterling, and Sarah Bernhardt. “Paint” also experimented with timers and mirrors to produce several self-portraits.
- Randazzo (Randy) Collection – The Randy Randazzo Collection of photonegatives, postcards, ephemera, and photographic prints provides an extensive visual record of life on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and South Mississippi from the turn of the twentieth century through the 1970’s. The collection includes thousands of postcards, black-and-white photographs, and other memorabilia depicting tourism, shipbuilding, agriculture, and seafood industries, and events such as regatta races and the annual blessing of the fleet. The collection is undergoing processing and scanning, and this exhibit will be updated as new images are available.
- Rapalje/Rapalji (George) notebook – George Rapalji was a prosperous trader and landowner in the Natchez District at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He kept a notebook of accounts, miscellaneous notes, and Choctaw vocabulary words for the period April 9, 1788, through April 1, 1797. The notebook records customer names (some Choctaw) and a list of items purchased or traded (including thread, knives, gunpowder, salt, sugar, coffee, tobacco, animal skins, and livestock) as well as amounts owed and paid (in dollars, pesos, and pounds). Rapalji recorded memoranda of events, recipes, home remedies, and geographic notes regarding the Mobile and Tombigbee Rivers. Of particular interest are a list of inhabitants on the Big Black River with the years they settled in the area and the Choctaw vocabulary.
- School Photographs (Mississippi), 1920s-1980s – This exhibit consists of six series of photographs received from the Mississippi Department of Education, totaling nearly 8,000 images. Two series contain images that accompanied surveys sponsored by the Educational Finance Commission to document the condition of Mississippi schools in the 1950s. The remaining series depict school buildings, school transportation, and education in general in Mississippi from the 1920s to the 1980s. In most cases, captions and identifying information were transcribed directly from the original and reflect the language and terminology of the time period
- Series 1589: Milk Quality Improvement Campaign Scrapbook, 1949-1950 – This scrapbook documents a milk quality improvement campaign in Mississippi, focusing on Booneville and Macon, including numerous newspaper clippings from the Booneville Banner, the Booneville Independent, the Tupelo Daily Journal, and the Macon Beacon. The campaign was a coordinated effort of the Kraft Food Company and the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and targeted dairy farmers who supplied milk to Kraft’s Mississippi dairy plants. Thirty-three black-and-white and color photographs document problems in dairy production as well as state efforts to improve milk quality. Images include dairy farm families and workers; milk trucks and milk carts loaded with milk cans; dairy buildings; classroom scenes of milk quality improvement courses taught to dairy farmers; and dairy cattle.
- Shankle, Hugh W., Collection – The black-and-white and color photographs in the Shankle, Hugh W., Collection showcase beauty contestants, artists, local celebrities, inaugurations, and historical buildings in Jackson and other cities of Mississippi in the 1950s and ’60s. They also document Ole Miss football, including the January 2, 1962, Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas.
- Speak Now: Memories of the Civil Rights Era – Speak Now was an audio interview project undertaken in May and June 2011 by MDAH in conjunction with Mississippi Freedom 50th, a week-long series of events in Jackson to honor the Freedom Riders and educate the public about the importance of this episode in the nation’s history. Twenty-eight individuals were recorded reminiscing about their own experiences during an era of cultural, political, and social change.
- Stewart Photograph Collection – Amateur photographers and brothers Robert Livingston Stewart and William Percy Stewart documented their family and neighbors in Natchez, Mississippi, around 1890-1905. The collection includes several family portraits at their parents’ residence, Myrtle Bank, as well as images of other significant houses in the region, vacations at Cooper’s Wells and Atlantic City resorts, and dedication ceremonies, winter storms, floods, steamboats and river scenes.
- Tax Rolls (Mississippi), 1818-1902 – These records contain details of the ownership of land and personal property by Mississippians and the assessment of taxes thereon. The rolls, submitted by county tax assessors to the state’s Auditor of Public Accounts, vary in content and condition and may contain information on county residents missed by decennial federal censuses.
- The Record of Bolivar County in the World War, 1917-1919 – This scrapbook was compiled by the Mississippi Delta Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Bolivar County to document county contributions to the war effort during World War I. Containing a roster of black and white soldiers from Bolivar County, photographs, news clippings, and reports from war organizations in Bolivar County, the scrapbook primarily documents home front activities but does incorporate some material from soldiers overseas.
- The Writer in America – Eudora Welty – In 1974-5 filmmaker Richard O. Moore produced a documentary about Jackson, Mississippi, author Eudora Welty, which aired on WNET as part of The Writer in America series. Six reels of production video, as well as a copy of the final documentary, were donated to MDAH with funds for digitization by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2006. Welty is shown reading from works including “A Worn Path,” “Why I Live at the P.O.,” “Keela, the Outcast Maiden,” “Petrified Man,” “Powerhouse,” “The Wanderers,” and Losing Battles, and in action shots in her house, garden, and car.
- Turcotte (William H.) Diary – William Henry Turcotte of Jackson, Mississippi, served in the 322nd Squadron, 91st Bomb Group, United States Army Air Corps, from July through October 1943. On October 9, 1943, he was captured during a bombing mission over Poland and Germany. Turcotte documented his experiences as a prisoner in this diary. It contains drawings and descriptions of day-to-day life of the prisoners, memorabilia, and clippings from German newspapers.
- Vicksburg National Military Park Photographs – Vicksburg National Military Park was established in 1899 to preserve the site of the siege and defense of the city and to commemorate the campaign that culminated in the Confederate Army’s surrender on July 4, 1863. The photographs in this collection, most taken between 1899 and 1923 and formerly housed in the files of early park commissioner William T. Rigby, depict the layout and creation of the park and the design and construction of its monuments and memorials.
- Witbeck, C. W., Photograph Collection – Campbell William Witbeck (1916-1972), professionally known as C. W. Witbeck, is most often recognized for his extensive collection of railroad photographs. Witbeck came to Jackson, Mississippi in 1938 to work for the Works Progress Administration (WPA). He opened the Witbeck Photo Service in Brookhaven, Mississippi in 1948, and in 1955 relocated his studio to Hammond, Louisiana. The 333 black-and-white photographs dating from 1911 through 1955 show views of places and people in Brookhaven, Gulfport, Jackson and Vicksburg, Mississippi. The collection also contains views of Monticello, Meadville and Crystal Springs, Mississippi. The earliest print, from 1911, is of McGrath’s Baseball Team in Brookhaven, Mississippi. There are multiple photographs of Governor Hugh White’s 1951 inauguration, daily activities at the United States Naval Training School in Gulfport, Senator Pat Harrison’s 1941 funeral, and African-American Little Leaguers in Brookhaven.
- World War I Statement of Service Cards and Indices (Mississippi) – Congress passed a law in 1919 that authorized the Secretaries of War and the Navy to prepare and provide each state with statement of service cards for all service members from that state mustered during World War I. The cards of service members from Mississippi were transferred to MDAH by the state’s Veterans Affairs Board in 1997 and are available here along with indices listing name, race, rank and other details.
- Worsham (Clifford G.) Photograph Album – Named after a Chickasaw Indian Chief, Tishomingo State Park sits just off the Natchez Trace Parkway in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Tishomingo County, Mississippi. The park was developed with Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) labor from 1935 to the early 1940s. Clifford Green Worsham, senior engineering foreman for 1939-40 projects, collected this album of photographs documenting the innovative methods CCC workers employed to construct a dam, swimming pool, baseball field, parking lot, and swinging bridge within a limited budget, as well as camp visitors and workers relaxing at the lodge and exploring the park
- Mississippi World War I Statement of Service Cards and Indices – Congress passed a law in 1919 that authorized the Secretaries of War and the Navy to prepare and provide each state with statement of service cards for all service members from that state mustered during World War I. The cards of service members from Mississippi were transferred to MDAH by the state’s Veterans Affairs Board in 1997 and are available here along with indices listing name, race, rank and other details.
- Mississippi Office of the State Auditor Series 1201: Confederate Pension Applications, 1889-1932 – The records in this series document the military service and post-war quality of life of thousands of former Confederate soldiers and sailors, their widows and wartime servants residing in Mississippi. The applications and supporting documentation (if any) are filed in alphabetical order by name of applicant. A printable copy of each pension image is available by clicking on the “print friendly” link at the bottom right of each image page and selecting the print command from your browser (usually “Print” under the “File” menu).
The Historic Resources Inventory database (HRI) is a compendium of information about Mississippi’s landmarks and architecture. Begun in 1998, the database is the product of our architectural historians’ ongoing research and analysis of the thousands of design-related historical documents, photographs, newspaper clippings, blueprints, drawings, and other media within our collection.
The HRI database is a supplement to the Historic Resources Inventory paper files managed by MDAH’s Historic Preservation Division. The paper file system contains over 40,000 files and includes files pertaining to individual buildings, historic districts, and artisans and a vertical subject file on topics relevant to the building trades and architectural profession. The database offers only the most basic information, such as construction date, architect, builder, National Register listing, and Mississippi Landmark designation.
The best way to get to know the Historic Resources Inventory database is simply to conduct a few searches. Use the broad terms and the map option to the left to focus your search and drill down to the individual property level. A few items to remember:
Scanned National Register of Historic Places nominations are available by clicking the relevant
link on each property/district.
The locations of rural properties on the map are approximate due to privacy concerns.
Properties shaded a blue/grey color are no longer standing (non-extant).
[su_heading size=”24″]Onsite Collections[/su_heading]
Descriptions of the most commonly used genealogical resources follow.
- Birth and Death Records
- Census Records
- County Records
- Court Cases
- Dawes Rolls
- Enumeration of Educable Children
- Freedmen’s Bureau Labor Contracts
- Marriage Records
- Military Resources
Birth and Death Records
The State of Mississippi did not officially keep birth records until November 1912. Records from that date to the present are in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Health, Vital Record Section. Census records can be used as an alternate proof of birth. While there are no copies of birth records at the archives, there are microfiche copies of the state’s death records from November 1912 to 1943. Death records often give the names and places of birth of the parents of the deceased in addition to information about the deceased.
Catalog record for death certificates and indexes
Information on how to purchase copies of birth, death, marriage, and divorce records not found at the archives is online at the Vital Records office of the State Department of Health Web site.
County Marriage Records
The archives offers microfilm copies of most of the original marriage books held by the county courthouses. The extent of the collection varies county to county. County clerks indexed the marriage records, usually by grooms’ surnames.
County records microfilm finding aid
Statewide Marriage Index
Marriage records prior to 1926 found in Mississippi courthouses by the federal Works Progress Administration were indexed (using the federal Soundex Code) by grooms’ surnames. The information provided on the microfilm index includes name of groom, name of bride, date of record, name of presiding official, county of marriage, and the book and page where the marriage is recorded.
Statewide marriage index
Freedmen’s Bureau Marriage Records
A portion of the fifty microfilm rolls pertaining to the operation of the Mississippi Freedmen’s Bureau include marriage records of some of the newly freed slaves. The information provided includes names of parties, ages, and places of birth and residence. Most of the marriages recorded took place in Warren County and involved grooms who served in the United States Colored Troops.
Federal population censuses are conducted every ten years. Early censuses list the head of household and number of household members. More details were gathered beginning in 1850, eventually including names and ages of all family members, place of birth, occupation, and the value of property.
The 1940 census is the most recent one opened to the public and is available online.The archives has 1820–1930 federal population censuses for Mississippi on microfilm. Indexes for the years 1820–1870 are in book form, while the 1880–1930 indexes are on microfilm. (The 1890 census was destroyed in a U.S. Department of Commerce fire.) The archives also has some early census records for Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.
In addition to population schedules, the federal government also conducted special censuses that include agricultural, manufacturing, mortality, and slave schedules. The archives has agricultural, manufacturing, and mortality schedules for 1850–80. The archives has slave schedules and indexes for 1850 and 1860. Although slaves are not listed by name (only names of slave owners or overseers are given) the records do state the gender and age of each slave.
Census microfilm finding aid
Mississippi researchers also have some surviving state census files. They are not available for every county, and several years are not indexed. Some of these state censuses were taken in years between the federal census.
Census microfilm finding aid
After a definite location for the family is determined, county records such as marriage licenses, wills, deeds, and tax records should be explored. The holdings for each county will differ as some courthouses have suffered fire or other damage. In most cases, the original copy of the record remains in the courthouse while the state archives maintains a microfilm copy.
County records microfilm finding aid
The archives’ collection includes hundreds of court cases from the files of the High Court of Errors and Appeals (forerunner of the State Supreme Court). Cases that were thought to have valuable genealogical data were indexed by Mary Flowers Hendrix and published in Mississippi Court Records 1799–1859; the volume is indexed by the name of the contesting parties. The online catalog’s “Quick Searches” offer three finding aids for court records—county, non-county, and supreme court—with entries for the individual parties named in the suit.
President Grover Cleveland appointed the Dawes Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes in 1893 to negotiate land with the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole tribes. The commission generated the Dawes Rolls of people eligible for tribal membership from 1898 to 1914. The archives has microfilm copies of Choctaw and Chickasaw enrollment cards. Information given on the cards usually includes roll number, name, age, sex, degree of Indian blood, relation to head of household, and names of parents.
Catalog record for Dawes Rolls microfilm
Enumeration of Educable Children
The enumeration of educable children has proven invaluable to researchers trying to locate elusive families. These files list the names and ages of children aged five to eighteen and, beginning in 1885, their parents or guardians. Some families who were missed by the state or federal census taker may be listed on the enumeration of educable children. The dates for these records vary by county. The oldest date to 1850, while others are as late as the 1950s. Educable children’s lists may be found in the records of the Secretary of State, Department of Education, or counties.
Freedmen’s Bureau Labor Contracts
Some 36,000 former slaves are listed on the contracts, which record the freedmen’s agreement to work for a planter (possibly their former master) for a fee, medical care, housing, and sometimes a share of the crop. These records contain such information as the county of residence, name of the planter, plantation name (if one was given), name of freedman, age, and terms of pay. Sometimes family units or relationships are indicated on the contracts. Labor contracts are indexed (by freedmen, planter, and plantation).
Freedmen’s Bureau finding aid
Mississippians have a long history of serving in the armed forces. Materials documenting this service occur throughout the archives’ collections. Government records include Confederate records, State Auditor’s Confederate pension files, Military Department/Adjutant General series, Veterans’ Affairs Board records, and U.S. military records. The archives has nearly 400 manuscript collections associated with the different wars in which Mississippians have served. The Mississippiana collection includes military history books as well as indices to service records and pension rolls. The archives also has many photographs with military subjects. All of these materials are searchable in the online catalog.
The archives has microfilm copies of service records for Mississippians in the War of 1812 (1812–15), Mexican War (1846–48), Civil War (1861–65), and the Spanish-American War (1898), and draft registration cards for World War I (1917–18). The archives also holds Mississippi World War I statement of service cards, 1917–19.
Military Records on Microfilm
The only pension files available at the archives are those of individuals who served in the Confederate army or navy. These records are available on microfilm. The pension files for veterans of all other wars and Union soldiers in the Civil War can be found at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.