At various times in its early settlement, the French, British, and Spanish all claimed territory in what would become modern Mississippi. The high-quality fertile land attracted hordes of settlers, and the population of Mississippi rose dramatically after the creation of the Mississippi Territory in 1798. The influx of settlers–mostly from Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia–came in two distinct waves: the first was a slow but steady migration until the onset of the Creek War in 1813-1814; the second came after the war, spurred by high cotton prices, the cessions of Native American lands, improved roads, and the acquisition of water access to the Gulf of Mexico. By 1860 its population had increased to 791,305, with slaves accounting for about 60 percent of the total. A discussion of this settlement history is how Michael A. Ports begins the latest addition to our Genealogy at a Glance series, Mississippi Genealogy Research.
Ports then goes on to focus on the important records located at the county level. A general rule of thumb, he states, is to begin research at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, which houses original and microfilm copies of most county records–in particular, vital, probate, land, and military records. Supplemental sources of interest to researchers include colonial and territorial census records and tax records.
To help you gain access to the records, Ports provides the contact information for all of the most important record repositories and institutions in the field of Mississippi genealogy, as well as a helpful list of online sources. No research tool in Mississippi genealogy is as informative and easy to use.