Collections Blog

Artifacts: Lowe Handpress

On June 18, 2014, in Artifacts, by Amanda
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Nan Prince, assistant director of collections, brings us this post about interesting artifacts in the Museum Division collection.

Lowe handpress. Accession number: 1981.12.1 (Museum Division collection, MDAH)

Lowe handpress. Accession number: 1981.12.1 (Museum Division collection, MDAH)

This Lowe handpress belonged to Mr. Harry Kersting, who was probably the last professional wood engraver in Jackson. He moved to Mississippi in 1955, at the age of eighty-one, from Cincinnati, Ohio, to be near his daughter and her family.

The Lowe press was patented by Samuel Lowe of Philadelphia in 1856. It was a small, amateur press that was first exhibited at the Fair of the American Institute at the Crystal Palace in New York in 1857, where it was awarded a prize for being inexpensive and easy to use.

 

The Mississippi Civil War Sesquicentennial continues and in the coming months we will be highlighting Museum Division collections related to 1864 and the Civil War. Special thanks to Nan Prince, assistant director of collections, for writing this series.

Battle flag of the 19th Mississippi Cavalry Battalion. Accession number: 2001.19.1 (MDAH Museum Division collection)

Battle flag of the Nineteenth Mississippi Cavalry Battalion. Accession number: 2001.19.1 (MDAH Museum Division collection)

In order to aid his advance into north Georgia, U.S. Major General William T. Sherman knew he had to protect his vital supply line, the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, and he realized one of the greatest threats to it was Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest, who had moved 3,500 cavalrymen towards the vital railroad. In order to draw Forrest back to north Mississippi, Sherman ordered Brigadier General Samuel D. Sturgis and his troops to move from Memphis to Mississippi, thus forcing Forrest to move his cavalry to meet him.

On the morning of June 10, the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads began near Baldwyn between Sturgis’ troops, which consisted of a three-brigade division of infantry and a division of cavalry (about 8,500 men), and Forrest’s significantly smaller cavalry corps. By the afternoon, the Confederates had decimated the Union line and forced a retreat back towards Memphis. The battle resulted in 2,600 U.S. casualties, with Confederate casualties numbering a much smaller 495. Although a decisive victory for Forrest, Sherman’s goal of keeping him away from the supply line was successful.

Pictured above is the battle flag of the Nineteenth Mississippi Cavalry Battalion, which was engaged in the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads. The Nineteenth Cavalry Battalion was formed in 1863, under the command of Lt. Col. William Duff for the defense of north Mississippi and was transferred in January 1864 to the command of Colonel Jeffrey Forrest. The Nineteenth later became part of the Eighth Mississippi Cavalry. The flag, which was made by the women of Oxford, was captured on July 13, 1864, at Camargo Cross Roads by the Fourteenth Wisconsin Infantry Regiment. William Barr, of Oxford, was carrying the flag when it was captured. The flag was donated to the Department of Archives and History by the state of Wisconsin in 1943.

Cavalry carbine. Accession number: 1960.52.1 (MDAH Museum Division collection)

Cavalry carbine. Accession number: 1960.52.1 (MDAH Museum Division collection)

Arms from Britain such as the cavalry carbine pictured above were heavily imported by the Confederacy during the Civil War. The carbine’s shorter length was made for cavalry use and could have been used in engagements such as the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads.

Sources:

http://www.nps.gov/brcr/index.htm

http://www.nps.gov/hps/abpp/battles/ms014.htm

http://www.mississippiscv.org/MS_Units/8th_MS_CAV.htm

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The Archives and History Building Construction

On June 3, 2014, in Archives, by Dorian Randall
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Chloe Edwards, of the Government Records Section, brings us this post in an ongoing series chronicling the construction of the Charlotte Capers Archives and History Building. Many thanks to Ms. Edwards for her research.

Construction site of the Capers Building. Information and Education Division, Series 1349, Box 5562. (MDAH)

Construction site of the Capers Building. Information and Education Division, Series 1349, Box 5562. (MDAH)

The Archives and History Building ultimately retained many of the features originally sketched out by William Morrison in his 1966 building survey. (It was named for Charlotte Capers after her retirement in 1984.) While the Capers Building has four floors instead of five, the foundations were poured to support the construction of two additional floors in later years (although these floors were never added). The first floor housed the public areas, such as the search room, reference library and microfilm rooms, in addition to stack space off limits to the public. The second floor held offices and more stack space, while the third floor was entirely devoted to the stacks. The basement contained the archivists’ work area, with spaces for receiving new collections, processing, fumigation, photoduplication, and storage. The staff lounge was also located in the basement.

References:

Mississippi Department of Archives and History in-house workshop on giving building tours, June 10, 1971 audio transcript (http://mdah.state.ms.us/arrec/digital_archives/vault/projects/OHtranscripts/AU710_104014.pdf)

Series 1258: Charlotte Capers Building Files, 1928-1992. Box 4899.

Subject file: Archives and History Building, 1966-1970

Subject file: Archives and History Building, 1971 (dedication year)

A Building Survey for a New Archives Building, for the Board of Trustees, Department of Archives and History, prepared by William D. Morrison, Jr., 1966

Tauches, Karen. “The Fate of History: The Old Archives Building is Under Review.” Burnaway, published July 22, 2011. Accessed April 3, 2014 at http://burnaway.org/the-fate-of-history-the-old-archives-building-is-under-review/

CR&HM. Accessed April 3, 2014 at http://www.dalepartners.com/civic-corporate/wfm-archives-and-history/

WFM Archives and History. Accessed April 3, 2014 at http://www.dalepartners.com/civic-corporate/crhm/

Money conversions performed at http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl

 

 

 

 

 

Rapalje/Rapalji Notebook Digitized

On May 21, 2014, in Paper Archives, by Amanda
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Page showing Choctaw vocabulary words. Call number: Z/0580.000, item 60 (MDAH)

Page showing Choctaw vocabulary words. Call number: Z/0580.000, item 60 (MDAH)

This trader’s notebook of George Rapalji of the Natchez District contains accounts, miscellaneous notes, and Choctaw vocabulary words for the period April 9, 1788, through April 1, 1797, written on forward and then reverse pages in the notebook. Accounts include customer names, some of which are Choctaw, and a list of items purchased or traded as well as amounts owed and paid.

Rapalji traded such items as thread, knives, gunpowder, salt, sugar, coffee, tobacco, and animal skins. He also dealt in livestock, as evidenced by the livestock inventories (pages 14 and 28). Rapalji recorded memoranda of events, recipes, home remedies, and geographic notes regarding the Mobile and Tombecbe [Tombigbee] Rivers.

Of note is the list of inhabitants on the Big Black River, which includes the years they settled in the area (pages 19-23). Of particular interest are the pages containing Choctaw words and phrases with their English equivalents (pages 10, 43-76).

 

Artifacts: Collodion Photography

On May 14, 2014, in Artifacts, by Amanda
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Nan Prince, assistant director of collections, brings us this post about interesting artifacts in the Museum Division collection.

Photography studio chair, ca. 1875. Accession number: 1964.61.1 (Museum Division collection, MDAH)

Photography studio chair, ca. 1875. Accession number: 1964.61.1 (Museum Division collection, MDAH)

Reverse of photography studio chair, ca. 1875. Accession number: 1964.61.1 (Museum Division collection, MDAH)

Reverse of photography studio chair, ca. 1875. Accession number: 1964.61.1 (Museum Division collection, MDAH)

This circa 1875 chair was used in a photographer’s studio during the time of collodion, or wet plate, photography. The metal brace on the back of the chair held the subject’s head steady for the ten to fifteen seconds required for proper exposure of the plate.

Ambrotype portrait. Accession number: 1960.205.1t (Museum Division collection, MDAH)

Ambrotype portrait. Accession number: 1960.205.1t (Museum Division collection, MDAH)

The collodion process was used to produce a positive image on a sheet of glass, which was called an ambrotype. In the 1860s, the ambrotype declined in popularity due the introduction of the tintype, which also used the collodion process to put a positive image on a thin sheet of iron instead of glass. Pictured above is an ambrotype of a young woman who is probably member of Crutcher or Shannon families of Vicksburg and a tintype of an unidentified young man.

Tintype of unidentified man. Accession number: 1983.39.1 (Museum Division collection, MDAH)

Tintype of unidentified man. Accession number: 1983.39.1 (Museum Division collection, MDAH)