Mississippi Genealogy and Ancestry Research

This page will provide you with information that will help you in your genealogy and ancestry research for the state of Mississippi. It includes a timeline for the state, when the state began recording vital records, what US and State census records are available, a map of the counties in the state and link to page showing when counties were formed, and links to a variety of genealogy and ancestry resources for the state of Mississippi.

Mississippi State History Timeline

There are more detailed timelines for Mississippi in the links below

1540 – 1540 to 1541: Spanish explorer, Spanish Hernando de Soto (1500-1542) becomes the first European to enter Mississippi and discovers the Mississippi River

1673 – The Jesuit priest Jacques Marquette (1637-1675) and the French Explorer and fur trader Louis Jolliet (1645-1700) explore the Mississippi

1680 – Father Louis Hennepin (1626-1705), the Flemish Recollect friar and explorer, sees the Falls of St. Anthony, future site of Minneapolis

1682 РFrench explorer Ren̩-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle (1643-1687) navigates the Mississippi River to its mouth and claims it for France

1699 – Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d’Iberville (1661 – 1706) and his brother Jean Baptiste le Moyne, Sieur D’Bienville (1680-1768), establish the first capital of the French colonies

1700s – French fur trading era begins

1729 – French settlers at Fort Rosalie are massacred by Natchez Indians

1732 – The French retaliate for the massacre at Fort Rosalie decimating the Natchez Indians

1756 – 1756 to 1763: The Seven Years War (French and Indian War) due to disputes over land is won by Great Britain. France gives England all French territory east of the Mississippi River, except New Orleans. The Spanish give up east and west Florida to the English in return for Cuba.

1763 – 1763 to 1767 Legal battles were settled by a survey — which resulted in the Mason-Dixon line, surveyed by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, establishing Maryland’s northern boundary

1775 – 1775 to 1783 – The American Revolution creates the United States of America. The Revolution was due to the British burden of taxes and total power to legislate any laws governing the American colonies. George Washington led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War (American War of Independence)

1776 – July 4, 1776 – United States Declaration of Independence

1778 – July 10, 1778 – France declares war against Britain and makes an alliance with the American revolutionary forces

1779 – Bernardo Galvez (1746-1786) captures Natchez but the area is reclaimed by America

1783 – September 3, 1783: The Treaty of Paris is signed by the victorious United States and the defeated Great Britain

1803 – The Louisiana Purchase – In 1803, the United States bought the Louisiana Territory from France. The U.S. Secretary of State, James Madison paid 15 million dollars for the land

1805 – By the Treaty of Mount Dexter, the Choctaws sell 4.5 million acres of land to the U.S. government and this opens up land to white settlement

1805 – Zebulon M. Pike (1779-1813), a native of New Jersey, explores Upper Mississippi

1812 – 1812 to 1815: The War of 1812 between U.S. and Great Britain, ended in a stalemate but confirmed America’s Independence

1817 – Statehood – The Date that Mississippi was admitted to the Union – December 10, 1817. Constitution – Mississippi was the 20th State to be admitted to the Union. State Motto – ” Virtute et armis ” the State Motto is translated as ” By Valor and Arms “.

1822 – Jackson becomes the capital.

1830 – The Choctaw give up their land in the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. They are forced to move to Indian Territory in the coming years.

1861 – 1861 to 1865: The American Civil War. Mississippi secedes from the Union and joins the Confederacy.

1863 – The Battle of Vicksburg is fought. The Union wins and gains control of the Mississippi River.          

1865 – The surrender of Robert E. Lee on April 9 1865 signaled the end of the Confederacy. 

1865 – 1865 December 6 1865: The Abolishment of Slavery. The Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, thus officially abolishing slavery.

1870 – Mississippi is readmitted into the Union.

1898 – 1898 to 1901 The Spanish American War. On December 10, 1898 the Treaty of Paris the US annexes Puerto Rico, Guam, Philippines.

1907 – Boll weevils appear and destroy much of the cotton crop

1969 – The segregation of public schools ends.

2005 – Hurricane Katrina strikes the coast causing severe damage.

Mississippi Vital Records

By law, the State of Mississippi was not required to keep birth or death certificates until 1 November 1912. Birth and death records since 1912 have been kept by the Mississippi State Department of Health,

FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com have a variety of online collections, which I’ve included in the links below.

Mississippi Census Records


Population Schedules

  • Indexed: 1820, 1830 (part), 1840, 1850, 1860 (part), 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930
  • Soundex: 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920

Industry and Agriculture Schedules

  • 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880

Mortality Schedules

  • 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880

Slave Schedules

  • 1850, 1860 (part)

Union Veterans Schedules

  • 1890

In 1817 Mississippi became the twentieth state to enter the union; therefore, the first federal population census available is that of 1820. Variations of this census appear in three printed forms, none of which include slave or miscellaneous information.


An early census of the Natchez District, taken in 1792 from the Spanish Provincial records, has been printed in Dunbar Rowland, History of Mississippi, The Heart of the South, 4 vols. (Chicago: S. J. Clark Publishing Co., 1925). Other censuses from the Spanish Colonial period (1784, 1787, 1788, and 1794) can be found in the Papeles Procedentes de Cuba (The Cuban Papers) located at the General Archives of the Indies in Seville, Spain. See Roscoe R. Hill, Descriptive Catalogue of the Documents Relating to the History of the United States in the Papeles Procedentes de Cuba (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institute of Washington, 1916).


Territorial census reports were authorized by the legislature of Mississippi Territory at different intervals from 1798 until 1817. A useful start with territorial census information may be found in Norman E. Gillis, Early Inhabitants of the Natchez District (Shreveport: the author, 1963). Although the information was gathered from secondary sources, it still remains a helpful tool.

See Census Records for Mississippi for more information.

Mississippi Counties

Mississippi Counties Map
Mississippi Counties Map

You can find location of county on the map, County address, date formed, parent county(ies), dates first recorded marriage, land probate and Court records at Mississippi County Resources originally written by Kathleen Stanton Hutchison for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

Mississippi Genealogy and Ancestry Links

Mississippi State History Timeline Links