Collections Blog

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)

 

The Archives and History Building Groundbreaking

On May 12, 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.

Charlotte Capers Archives and History Building groundbreaking, Information and Education Division, Series 1349, Box 5562. (MDAH)

The Archives and History Building groundbreaking, Information and Education Division, Series 1349, Box 5562. (MDAH)

After securing a resolution from the department’s Board of Trustees urging a $1.5 million appropriation (approximately $11 million today) for a new building, Capers worked with architect William D. Morrison, Jr. to draw up a preliminary building plan and cost estimate to present to the legislature. Morrison envisioned a five story building on the corner of North and Amite Streets with a central stack space flanked by public areas, administrative offices, and processing space. The plan also called for a foundation strong enough to add two floors if needed. The building contained forty thousand square feet of floor space and would cost approximately $1.1 million. Capers requested $1.2 million, but the appropriation bill languished through several legislative sessions before Governor Paul B. Johnson offered his support.  Consequently, House Bill 7 earmarked $1.12 million for the construction of a new home for MDAH in 1967, Mississippi’s sesquicentennial year.

After two years of planning with architectural firm Overstreet, Ware, Ware, and Lewis and consultation with other state archives, the groundbreaking ceremony was held on December 3, 1969. In attendance were former governors Paul B. Johnson, Ross Barnett, and J.P. Coleman, Lieutenant Governor Charles L. Sullivan, Secretary of State Heber Ladner, department trustee and future governor William F. Winter, Dr. R.A. McLemore (the new department director), and of course, Charlotte Capers.

Although the Board of Trustees preferred the site on the corner of North and Amite streets, where the Winter Building is now located, the Building Commission opted for the lot just south of the Old Capitol for the opportunity to create a historical complex on Capitol Green. The building would complement the War Memorial and Old Capitol Buildings without duplicating the former architecturally or overshadowing the latter. The 1891 Confederate Memorial would retain pride of place in front of the archives building.

Sources:

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

 

 

 

 

Battle of the Wilderness: 150 Years Ago

On May 5, 2014, in Artifacts, by Amanda
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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.

The Battle of the Wilderness was the first battle in the Overland Campaign, initiated by the newly appointed leader of the federal armies, General Ulysses S. Grant. The Overland, or Wilderness, Campaign was a series of maneuvers and battles in northern Virginia throughout May and June 1864. Fierce fighting in the dense woods during the Battle of the Wilderness led to almost thirty thousand casualties in the two days of fighting. Although the battle was technically a draw, U.S. forces lost significantly more soldiers than the Confederates. Determined to reengage Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, Grant—instead of retreating as had his predecessors—turned his army toward Spotsylvania Courthouse, where they continued to fight the next day.

Henry A. Magruder's shirt. Accession number: 1962.251.2 (MDAH Museum Division collection)

Henry A. Magruder’s shirt. Accession number: 1962.251.2 (MDAH Museum Division collection)

This shirt was worn by Henry A. Magruder when he was wounded in the Battle of the Wilderness. Born in 1841, in Sharon (Madison County), Mississippi, Magruder served with the Madison Light Artillery, which was also known as Ward’s Battery.  Magruder survived his injury and returned home to Mississippi after the war.

Captain Silvanus Jackson Quinn's dictionary. Accession number: 1960.332.1 (MDAH Museum Division collection)

Captain Silvanus Jackson Quinn’s dictionary. Accession number: 1960.332.1 (MDAH Museum Division collection)

Captain Silvanus Jackson Quinn, Company A, Thirteenth Mississippi Regiment, kept this dictionary and a package of letters from home in his breast pocket. They reputedly saved his life when he was shot during the Battle of the Wilderness.

Sources:

http://www.nps.gov/frsp/wildspot.htm

http://www.nps.gov/hps/abpp/battles/va046.htm

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"Camellia Place, Built in 1841 by ?, Columbus." Call number: PI/HH/M57.7 (MDAH)

“Camellia Place, Built in 1841 by ?, Columbus.” Call number: PI/HH/M57.7 (MDAH)

The Mississippi Historic Houses Collection (PI/HH/M57.7) contains 488 photographic slides of historic houses in various cities and towns in Mississippi. There are exterior and interior views.

Click here to view the images.

More information is available in the catalog records. To view them, search for “PI HH M57 7″ in the online catalog.