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Collection Number: 00309

Collection Title: Harding and Jackson Family Papers, 1819-1911.

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the Duplication Policy section for more information.

This collection was rehoused under the sponsorship of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992.

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Size 2.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 500 items)
Abstract John Harding (1777-1865) established the plantation Belle Meade near Nashville, Tenn. His son, William Giles Harding (1806-1886), was a Tennessee militia general, planter, and horse breeder. Brothers William Hicks Jackson (1835-1903) and Howell Edmunds Jackson (1832-1895), were sons-in-law of W. G. Harding. W. H. Jackson, a Confederate general, managed Belle Meade in association with J. H. Harding and later as a partner of H. E. Jackson, who was a lawyer, Democratic legislator, U.S. Senator, and U.S. Circuit and Supreme Court judge. The papers are primarily related to Belle Meade, but include scattered personal and family correspondence, material on W. H. Jackson's interest in agricultural organizations, some political and legal papers of H. E. Jackson, account books, and copies of letters by Elizabeth McGavock (Mrs. W. G.) Harding to her husband while he was a political prisoner at Ft. Mackinac, Mich., in 1862.
Creator Harding (Family : Harding, John, 1777-1865)

Jackson (Family : Jackson, Howell Edmunds, 1832-1895)
Curatorial Unit University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection.
Language English
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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Information For Users

Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Harding and Jackson Family Papers #309, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
Microfilm copy available.
Additional microfilm: All or part of this collection is also available on microfilm from University Publications of America as part of the Records of ante-bellum southern plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War, Series J.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Mrs. Hill McAllister of Nashville, Tennessee, before 1940, and from Mrs. M. G. Buckner of Nashville, Tennessee, before 1940, and in July and August 1942.
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Processing Information

Processed by: Shonra Newman, July 1991

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

Updated by: Nancy Kaiser, October 2020

This collection was rehoused under the sponsorship of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subject Headings

The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

John Harding (1777-1865) was born in Virginia. Around 1805, he moved to Tennessee and established the Belle Meade Plantation. His wife was Susannah Shute.

William Giles Harding (1808-1886) was the son of John Harding. He attended the University of Nashville and the American Literary, Scientific, and Military Academy in Middletown, Connecticut (later Norwich University in Norwich, Vermont), run by Alden Partridge. His first wife was Selene McNairy, with whom he had one son, John. His second wife was Elizabeth McGavock (d. 1867), with whom he had two daughters: Selene, who married William Hicks Jackson; and Mary, who married Howell Edmunds Jackson. William Giles Harding lived first at Stone's River Farm, where his son John later lived, and then at Belle Meade, where he raised cashmere goats and race horses. He was a brigadier general in the Tennessee militia and was usually referred to as General Harding.

William Hicks Jackson (1835-1903), the son of Dr. Alexander Jackson and his wife Mary Hurt, lived in Jackson, Tennessee, attended West Tennessee College, graduated from the United States Military Academy, and served in the United States army until 1861. He then became an officer in the Confederate army, rising to the rank of brigadier general. After the war, he managed his father's cotton plantation until his marriage in 1868 to Selene Harding, at which time he became associated with William Giles Harding in the management of Belle Meade. After Harding's death, Jackson continued to operate Belle Meade as a partner of his brother Howell Edmunds Jackson, who married Harding's daughter Mary. William Hicks Jackson was active in the farmers' movement. He belonged to the Tennessee Agricultural and Mechanical Association and the Grange, and sat on the Tennessee Bureau of Agriculture.

Howell Edmunds Jackson (1832-1895) was also a son of Dr. Alexander and Mary Hurt Jackson. He was a graduate of West Tennessee College, the University of Virginia, and the law school of Cumberland University. He married first Sophia Malloy, and, in 1874, Mary Harding. He practiced law in Memphis and Jackson, Tennessee, and served as a member (Democrat) in the Tennessee legislature. He was a member of the United States Senate, 1881-1886, judge of the United States Circuit Court and the Circuit Court of Appeals, 1886-1893, and associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, 1893-1895.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

Correspondence, financial and legal Papers, speeches, Supreme Court opinions, clippings, account books, horse breeding records, a bank book, and a political notebook relating to members of the Harding and Jackson family.

Correspondence consists chiefly of letters from business associates, political friends, and other acquaintances rather than family members. William Giles Harding received letters on his horse breeding activities and his kasmir goat breeding business. William Hicks Jackson received letters on his involvement with a number of agricultural organizations in the 1870s. Howell Edmunds Jackson corresponded about political and legal issues after his election as senator and appointments as U.S. circuit court judge and Supreme Court justice. There is also a group of letters written by Elizabeth Harding to her husband, William Giles Harding, in 1862 when he was imprisoned by federal troops at Fort Mackinaw, Mich., in which she discussed conditions in Nashville under the Union occupation and family and plantation affairs, including comments on crops, animals, and slaves.

There are only a few financial and legal Papers, most of which relate to the cashmere goat business. Other papers include documents from William Hicks Jackson's involvement in farmers' organizations, Supreme Court opinions written by Howell Edmunds Jackson, and printed speeches by other political figures. Also included are clippings about Belle Meade plantation, and account books of John and William Giles Harding containing records for boarding and breeding horses.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence, 1826-1911 and undated.

About 340 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.1. 1826-1829.

About 20 items.

Chiefly correspondence of William Giles Harding with classmates and other friends during his years at school. He attended the American Literary, Scientific, and Military Academy in Middletown, Connecticut, run by Alden Partridge, between 1826 and 1828, and studied law in Litchfield, Connecticut, in 1829. Letters discuss school days and the current activities of the correspondents.

Folder 1


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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.2. 1830-1854.

About 60 items.

Scattered letters to William Giles Harding over a 25-year period. Harding began overseeing the horse-breeding operations at Belle Meade Plantation sometime in the 1830s, and, by the 1840s, there were frequent letters to him from others involved in horse breeding and racing. Correspondence is scattered, from many different individuals, and covers many different topics.

In 1838, there is a group of letters to Harding and G. C. Childress from friends who were attempting to mediate in a disagreement between the two men, who were apparently contemplating a duel.

Included in 1841 is a photostatic copy of a letter to Harding from Sam Houston, who wrote about being unable to pay his debt to William because of poor conditions in Texas. He also complained about government corruption.

In 1844 and 1849, Harding received two letters from R. R. Rice. One discussed removing his filly from Harding's care because of financial difficulties; the other discussed politics, agriculture, and the death of one of his sons.

Between 1850 and 1852, most of the letters to Harding are from his friend H. W. Paynor. In addition to letters about business, horses, and the activities of their mutual acquaintances, Paynor wrote about his plantation in Louisiana. He described working on his levee, the dancing and praying parties of his slaves, and also discussed politics, including a recent speech by Daniel Webster. In January 1852, Paynor wrote indicating that he had lost his plantation, and, in March, Harding received letters reporting Paynor's death.

Also included in 1850 are a group of letters of introduction written for Harding by his friends. Harding and his family evidently took a trip to New England, and the letters are addressed to various individuals in the North. Scattered throughout this subseries are printed circulars from Alden Partridge about his efforts to expand the American Literary, Scientific, and Military School.

There are also a few items addressed to individuals other than Harding. These include an 1850 letter to Dr. Jackson from J. W. McCullough about the state ecologist's report and about Jackson's sons, particularly Howell, who were doing very well at school. In 1853, there is a letter from William Jackson at West Point, to his brother Howell, describing his studies and leisure activities.

Folder 2


Folder 3


Folder 4


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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.3. 1860-1861.

About 20 items.

Chiefly correspondence about the United Cashmere Company, William Giles Harding's cashmere goat company. Harding was apparently working in a partnership with R. Williamson, who travelled about the country selling goats, while Harding bred them at Belle Meade. There are a number of letters from R. Williamson to Harding about the business, including accounts of sales of goats to various individuals.

Folder 5


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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.4. 1862.

About 40 items.

Chiefly typed transcriptions of letters written to William Giles Harding between April and September 1862, while he was imprisoned by federal forces in Detroit and at Fort Mackinaw, Michigan. Most of the letters were written by his wife, Elizabeth McGavock Harding, with a few written by his daughter, Selene. He also received letters from his nephew, Randall Southall, who was in prison at Johnson's Island; from a Mr. Hague, who worked for him at the plantation; from his sister, M. Southall; from his daughter-in-law Maggie; and from a friend named Randal M. Ewing. One letter, dated 25 August 1862, was apparently dictated to a friend by one of his slaves, Susannah.

Elizabeth's letters include descriptions of life in Nashville under the occupation by Union troops. She wrote about the constant fears of citizens in Nashville of arrest and confiscation of their property. Prominent men in Nashville, including clergymen, were being arrested and sent to prison if they refused to take the oath of allegiance to the United States. In particular, Elizabeth was worried over a recent proclamation allowing officers to choose new mounts if they needed them. She feared that the thoroughbreds at Belle Meade would be taken. Elizabeth wrote of her attempts to gain permission from General Johnston to visit Harding in prison, and she told of her efforts to make it possible for him to stay in a hotel during her visit.

Elizabeth's letters also included minute descriptions of life at Belle Meade, including comments on the health of everyone at the plantation. She wrote about daily activities, visits of neighbors, and short trips made by herself and her daughters. She kept her husband up-to-date on the activities of his friends, letting him know who had been arrested and who were suspected of taking the oath. She described to him the progress of the crops and the condition of the horses.

In July, Elizabeth made several attempts to visit Harding, but failed in her efforts. Federal troops were restricting the movements of individuals, and she feared leaving the plantation in case they confiscated property. She mentioned that the slaves had offered her their gold pieces to use for the trip because they knew it was difficult to obtain cash. Towards the end of July, the situation in Nashville grew worse, as it appeared the Confederates would attempt to retake the town.

Letters to Harding continue through August. The final letter is an unfinished one from Harding to Elizabeth, dated 24 September 1862.

Folder 6

Jan-June 1862

Folder 7

July-Sept 1862

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.5. 1863-1868.

About 20 items.

Chiefly letters to William Giles Harding from R. Williamson in reference to their cashmere goat business. Williamson continued to travel about selling goats and reporting on his sales to Harding, who would then ship the animals. Also included are a few letters to R. Williamson from William F. Moellen, who was selling goats for Williamson.

There are two letters to members of the Jackson family in this series. One, dated 1866, is to General William H. Jackson about training his horse. The other is to Howell Jackson from his father, Alexander Jackson, about his plantation and the state of his cotton crop. He expected to make quite a bit of money from his 1866 crop.

Also included is a letter to Harding from T. L. Witter of the Texas Rangers, thanking him for his hospitality and giving him news of the army. The letter is undated, but was apparently written during the Civil War.

Folder 8


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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.6. 1871-1874.

About 20 items.

Chiefly letters to William Hicks Jackson about agricultural affairs and the farmer's movement in Tennessee. Jackson was involved in a number of organizations, including the Tennessee Agricultural and Mechanical Association, the Grange, and the Tennessee Bureau of Agriculture, which promoted the interests of farmers, who were enduring extreme economic difficulties during this period.

In 1871, Jackson was involved in organizing a congress of state agricultural associations to meet at Nashville and create a National Agricultural Association. He received two letters from the commissioner of agriculture, Frederick Watts, approving his plan. In 1873, Jackson was apparently president of the Tennessee Bureau of Agriculture and was again involved in arranging a convention of farmers to be held in Nashville. He was a member of the Grange and received letters from several individuals on Grange business.

One of the complaints of farmers was the high transportation costs they were forced to pay to sell their produce. Jackson received several letters from Jesse Frye in Brooklyn, New York, who was attempting to get donations from various granges to subsidize a railroad that would be used exclusively to transport farmers' produce.

Also included in this series are two letters to Howell Jackson from his father. One is about money matters and family health; the other is a letter of condolence to Howell after the death of his wife Sophie.

Folder 9


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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.7. 1875-1886.

About 100 items.

Chiefly letters to Howell Edmunds Jackson during his career as a United States senator from Tennessee.

Included are a few letters from 1875 through 1879 to Howell from his brother William about the sale of horses and the progress of his crops.

In January and February of 1881, there are a number of letters to Howell congratulating him on being elected senator. Beginning in 1881, he received letters from Tennessee attorneys and other individuals on political issues, such as state credit and his efforts to gain a pension for the widow of James Polk to obtain reparations for property confiscated during the Civil War. There is also a group of letters in August 1882, relating to his dispute with former Tennessee governor Isham G. Harris, who was then serving as a United States senator.

Howell was apparently associated in business with a company called the Jackson Oil Mills, and, in 1883 and 1884, he received several lengthy letters about company operations and profits. He also continued to receive scattered letters from his brother William and others about farm matters.

In September 1885, Howell received several letters congratulating him on his speech in favor of the Blair educational bill. This bill was introduced five times between 1882 and 1890 by Henry W. Blair of New Hampshire, and was designed to provide federal aid to public education. Although it passed in the Senate several times it never passed in the House. Few letters in January 1886 relate to Howell's federal court bill, although the majority of the correspondence in 1886 is about Howell's appointment by Grover Cleveland as United States circuit court judge for the 6th circuit. He received letters urging him to accept the appointment and letters of congratulation.

Folder 10


Folder 11


Folder 12


Folder 13


Folder 14


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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.8. 1888-1895.

About 40 items.

Scattered letters written to Howell Edmunds Jackson during his career as circuit court judge and United States Supreme Court justice. A few of the letters deal with court business and legal cases. Also included are a few letters on political issues.

Howell's brother, William Hicks Jackson, wrote once from Belle Meade about rates for boarding horses.

In 1894, during Howell's term as a United States supreme court justice, he fell ill and was unable to serve on the bench. He received a number of letters from Horace Gray, justice on the Supreme Court, and Melville W. Fuller, chief justice, about his health and about court business. He died in 1895. and the series ends with two letters of condolence to his wife.

Folder 15


Folder 16


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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.9. 1910-1911.

About 10 items.

Several letters to John Harding and Mary Harding Jackson from W. A. Ellis and A. W. Wills, about publishing a history of Norwich University, formerly the American Literary, Scientific, and Military Academy attended by their father, William Giles Harding. Ellis and Wills were interested in obtaining information on William Harding and other Tennesseans who had attended the Institute.

Folder 17


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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.10. Undated.

3 items.

Three undated letters, one letter to John Harding, a fragment to William Giles Harding, and one letter to an unknown recipient, possibly from M. Easen.

Folder 18


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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Financial and Legal Items, 1826-1895 and undated.

About 40 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Miscellaneous financial and legal items relating to John Harding, William Giles Harding, William Hicks Jackson, and Howell Edmunds Jackson.

Included are some accounts and legal agreements executed by William Giles Harding, a few bills and receipts, an account of sale of cotton bales by Josias Nichol (relationship to Harding and Jackson family members unknown), and several bills for drugs and groceries purchased by Howell Jackson. There are also a few items relating to horse breeding and racing, including an agreement by the Walnut Jockey Club Association, of which William Giles Harding was a member, to lease a race track.

Beginning in 1859, there are a number of items relating to the cashmere goat business, including certificates of sale for goats by the United Cashmere Company. Between 1863 and 1865, most of the documents are William Giles Harding's receipts.

Folder 19


Folder 20


Folder 21


Extra Oversize Paper Folder XOPF-309/1

Legal papers

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Other Papers, 1861-1894 and undated.

About 60 items.

Arrangement: by type.

Included are William Jackson's papers relating to the farmer's movement, Howell Jackson's Supreme Court opinions and other legal Papers, printed speeches and legal opinions written by various individuals, and miscellaneous items.

Folder 22

William Jackson: Farmer's movement

Folder 23

Howell Jackson: Supreme court opinions and other legal papers

Folder 24

Printed speeches and opinions

Folder 25

Miscellaneous items

Extra Oversize Paper Folder XOPF-309/1


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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 4. Clippings, 1879-1907 and undated.

About 40 items.

Arrangement: by type.

Clippings about about Belle Meade and members of the Harding and Jackson families. Also included is a folder of miscellaneous clippings chiefly on political issues in Tennessee and elsewhere.

Folder 26

Belle Meade

Folder 27


Extra Oversize Paper Folder XOPF-309/1

Newspaper clipplings

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 5. Account Books and Other Volumes, 1819-1879 and undated.

16 items.

Arrangement: by owner.

Chiefly account books kept by members of the Harding and Jackson families. The volumes have been arranged by owner.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 5.1. John Harding Account Books, 1819-1838.

10 items.

Ten account books kept by John Harding between 1819 and 1838. Although the books were kept annually, memoranda for later years were frequently jotted down in an earlier volume. For example, the volume for 1830 also includes some accounts and lists for 1831 and 1832.

John Harding kept records of money owed to him by various individuals, chiefly for the care of horses, including transporting them and having them shod. He also kept records of money owed to him for clover hay, fodder, corn, and cotton. In volume 1, there is an account with Rubin Graham, who is listed as "a free negro," for the care of his brown horse.

Harding also jotted down miscellaneous information in the front and back of the volumes. Included in volume 1 is a list of apple trees he got from Richard Drury. Included in volume 3 are some horse breeding notes. Other notes include some cures for horse diseases in volume 4, and notes in volume 9 on the number of bales of cotton made and delivered from 1830 through 1832.

Folder 28

Volume 1 1819 [and 1820]

Folder 29

Volume 2 1820 [and 1821]

Folder 30

Volume 3 1821 [and 1822]

Folder 31

Volume 4 1823 [and 1824]

Folder 32

Volume 5 1825 [and 1824-1826]

Folder 33

Volume 6 1826 [and 1825-1827]

Folder 34

Volume 7 1827 [and 1828]

Folder 35

Volume 8 1828-1829 [and 1830]

Folder 36

Volume 9 1830 [and 1831-1832]

Folder 37

Volume 10 1837-1838

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 5.2. William Giles Harding Account Books and Other Volumes, 1839-1879.

4 items.
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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 5.2.1. Account Books, 1839-1842.

2 items.

Two account books similar to those kept by John Harding for the boarding and care of different horses.

Folder 38

Volume 11

Folder 39

Volume 12

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 5.2.2. Horse Breeding Book, 1879.

1 item.

Cash account and horse breeding book for 1879, possibly kept by both William Giles Harding and William Hicks Jackson. Included are cash accounts of amounts paid out and received. Also included are extensive records of the mares bred to Harding's stallions, Bonnie Scotland, Great Tom, and John Morgan, and a list of the foals that were born. Also included are a few accounts for boarding horses for individuals and some farming records of crops and livestock. In the back of the volume are records of sales of horses in 1879.

Folder 40

Volume 13

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 5.2.3. Bank Book, 1846-1847.

1 item.

Bank book of William Giles Harding with the Union Bank of Tennessee.

Folder 41

Volume 14

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 5.3. J. J. B. Southall Receipt Book , 1840-1851.

1 item.

Receipts made out to J. J. B. Southall by individuals for various amounts, chiefly for money received from executions. It is probable that Southall was a lawyer who was involved in collecting on judgments in lawsuits.

Folder 42

Volume 15

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 5.4. Howell Edmunds Jackson Political Notebook Undated.

1 item.

Small undated notebook, possibly kept by Howell Jackson in the 1880s. Many of the notes appear to relate to the state credit issue.

Folder 43

Volume 16

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Microfilm

3 items.
Reel M-309/1-3





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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Items Separated

Microfilm (M-309/1-3)

Oversize papers (XOPF-309/1)

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