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About The Lantern Project

The Lantern Project is a collaborative project led by Mississippi State University as part of a coalition of institutions located within Mississippi and Alabama, including the University of Mississippi Libraries (Oxford, MS); Delta State University (Cleveland, MS); The Historic Natchez Foundation (Natchez, MS); Columbus-Lowndes County Public Library System (Columbus, MS); and the Montgomery County Archives (Montgomery, AL).

The Lantern Project provides, for the first time, centralized and institutionally supported access to information in legal records documenting enslaved persons, including probate records, court records (orphans court, civil court, criminal court, and others), deeds, receipts, bills of sale, and other documents which were or could have been used as evidence in a trial, from across Mississippi and the Deep South.

The Lantern Project has been generously funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) of the United States National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

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Sources of records

Documents digitized and indexed by the Lantern Project are drawn from a variety of sources, including county and municipal court records as well as personal and family papers.

States covered by the project

The records digitized and indexed by the project are located in institutions in Mississippi and Alabama, and primarily cover individuals who lived in both of those states. Other states represented are neighboring states, such as Louisiana, and “feeder” states, or places from which early settlers and their enslaved persons would have moved, or locations which were home to significant slave markets, from which large groups of enslaved persons would have been transported to the Deep South, such as Kentucky, Virginia and the Carolinas.

Accessing the original records

To access the original records, researchers will need to abide by the access policies of the home institutions at which they are held. The home institutions are noted in the database record for individual documents.


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Recorded Past Events


More information

To learn more about the Lantern Project, please contact Jennifer McGillan, Coordinator of Manuscripts at Mississippi State University, at

To learn more about specific documents or collections, please contact the home institution, as noted in the database record.