The holdings of the archives comprise more than 126,000 cubic feet of records—including government documents, bound volumes, maps and drawings, photographs, oral histories, and video and audio tapes. The catalog is searchable online, and some collections are accessible through the Digital Archives. Copies of most materials can be purchased for a nominal fee.
Colonial and Territorial
Government records document Mississippi’s colonial periods—French, Spanish, and English—and Mississippi Territorial records illustrate the development of American democracy on the frontier.
These resources include more than 50,000 cubic feet of legislative records, governors’ papers, court documents, and state agency records organized into more than 2,600 records series.
More than 2,150 processed collections—papers of individuals, families, churches, corporations, business and community organizations—provide resources for the study of the political, military, religious, social, economic, and cultural history of Mississippi. The holdings are especially strong in the antebellum period, Civil War, Reconstruction, economic development of twentieth-century Mississippi, women’s history, and the Civil Rights Movement.
Significant manuscript collections at the archives include the papers of historian J.F.H. Claiborne documenting the colonial, territorial, and early state periods; the papers of early American feminist writer Judith Sargent Murray; the papers of civil rights pioneers Medgar and Myrlie Evers; and the Eudora Welty Collection, containing the manuscripts, correspondence, and photographs of this major American writer.
Tougaloo College’s Civil Rights Collection—an invaluable collection of photographs, personal papers, oral histories and other memorabilia relating to the civil rights movement in Mississippi—is on longterm loan and available to researchers at the archives.
Over 1,300 sound recordings—oral histories and important events over the last sixty years—are held by the archives. Recordings related to the civil rights era in Mississippi have been digitized and are available in the library’s media reading room.
Film and Video
The archives collects both amateur and professional film and video recordings related to Mississippi. Amateur films feature agricultural and town scenes, parades, and home life. The WLBT Newsfilm Collection offers rare documentary footage of the civil rights movement in the South produced by a Jackson television station from 1954 to 1971. The Citizens’ Council Forum Films Collection comprises 15-minute television segments generated by the Mississippi Citizens’ Council between 1955 and 1966 to influence public opinion on integration and communism.
The map collection dates from 1588 to the present. It documents early exploration of the southeastern United States and Mississippi’s development as a territory and state. The collection includes early hand-drawn maps, topographical maps, soil surveys, highway maps, and maps of counties and towns.
“Mississippiana” describes the other holdings of the archives—books, periodicals, vertical files, and ephemera. The library contains 66,000 volumes addressing almost any aspect of the prehistory and history of Mississippi in its context of the southeastern United States. The archives is the primary repository for Mississippi newspapers, which date back to 1801. The archives also maintains approximately 28,000 subject files of ephemeral material on persons, places, and events in Mississippi history.
The Museum Division collection reflects the broad range of the state’s history from the Native American period through statehood to the present. There are more than 20,000 artifacts in the collection. Some highlights are a rare Twenty-Star flag, an 1831 Bowie Knife, a grained wardrobe made by Charles Manship, the household belongings of Eudora Welty, including her Pulitzer Prize, the rifle that killed Medgar Evers, and much more.
The Museum division relies primarily on donations to fill gaps in its collection. Preparations are underway for the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. To tell those stories through artifacts, the Museum Division is currently seeking donations for:
• Civil Rights artifacts • African American artifacts
• Native American artifacts • Ethnic/Cultural Immigrant artifacts
• Mississippi coast artifacts • Artifacts from the 1950s – 2000s
• 1927 Flood and other natural disaster artifacts • Reconstruction related artifacts
• Woman suffrage artifacts • US military artifacts
• Mississippi industry and transportation artifacts • Territorial & early statehood artifacts
(1798 – 1830)
• Other artifacts of historical significance
For an artifact to be accepted into the collection, the donor must transfer ownership of the object unconditionally. Donors are eligible to take a tax deduction for the appropriate value of the item. MDAH policy prohibits staff from providing appraisals due to potential conflict of interest. The donor should work with a professional appraiser prior to donating the object to MDAH. Such appraisers can be found at the Appraisers Association of America at http://www.appraisersassoc.org/.
To discuss potential donations, please contact the director of collections at 601-576-6901 or email@example.com.