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Mississippi as Province & Territory (Archives): Home

Mississippi as Province & Territory

The contents of this subject guide offer insight into Mississippi between 1699 and 1798 as a colonial possession of France, Great Britain, and Spain and as a territory of the United States between 1798 and 1817.  The following timeline provides a brief overview of these periods: 

  • European explorers first made contact with indigenous peoples in Mississippi in 1519 when Spanish explorer Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda searched the Gulf Coast for a passageway to the Pacific Ocean. 
  • Other explorers followed until 1699 when the Frenchmen Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville and Jean Baptiste de Bienville built the first European settlement at Fort Maurepas in present day Ocean Springs. 
  • After their defeat in the French and Indian War, the French ceded all land east of the Mississippi (except for New Orleans) to the English with the 1763 signing of the Treaty of Paris.  
  • During the American Revolution, Spain declared war on Great Britain and captured Natchez in 1779.  At the conclusion of the American Revolution, the 1783 Treaty of Paris transferred the southern half of present-day Mississippi to Spain and the new nation of the United States gained the portion of Mississippi north of the 32 degrees 28 minute parallel. 
  • The Treaty of San Lorenzo in 1795 established the boundary between the United States and Spanish Florida at the 31st parallel, and Spain relinquished Natchez and key forts along the Mississippi River. 
  • Congress established the Mississippi Territory in 1798.
  • Mississippi becomes a state in 1817.

Manuscript Collections describes collections possessing content created during this time period.

Primary Source Publications lists cataloged holdings of autobiographies, travel accounts, or contemporary items either published in Mississippi or about the state.  These may include compilations of the era's material published long after the dates in question as well as indexes of primary source resources.

Secondary Source Publications contains histories of Mississippi or biographies of individuals.

Departmental Information

Archives and Special Collections
PO Box 1848
University, MS 38677
3rd floor of the J.D. Williams Library

Open Monday through Friday 8am - 5pm (except holidays)