The Papers of Jefferson Davis was a documentary editing project based at Rice University in Houston, Texas.
Editor and project director Lynda Lasswell Crist has contributed to all the published volumes, was editor since the fourth volume, and also worked on The Papers of Andrew Johnson. Her predecessors as editor were Haskell M. Monroe, Jr., and the late James T. McIntosh. Mary Seaton Dix retired in 1995 after twenty-six years with the project, but as co-editor emerita continues to volunteer her considerable expertise.
The editorial advisory board was headed by the late Frank E. Vandiver and was composed of distinguished historians from across the country: Richard E. Beringer, William J. Cooper, Jr., Judith F. Gentry, Harold M. Hyman, Edwin A. Miles, T. Michael Parrish, James I. Robertson, Jr., Richard J. Sommers, and Emory M. Thomas.
The board of directors included Bertram Hayes-Davis (president), Jefferson Davis' great-great-grandson and a Colorado businessman; Percival T. Beacroft (vice-president), an attorney who has restored Davis' boyhood home, Rosemont, in Woodville, Mississippi; John B. Boles (secretary-treasurer), former editor of The Journal of Southern History and professor of history at Rice University; Lynda L. Crist, project director; Elbert R. Hilliard, director emeritus of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History; and Allen J. Matusow, former professor of history at Rice University.
From the roughly 100,000 Davis documents in our files, we produced a selective letterpress set of 14 volumes was published by Louisiana State University Press, 1971-2015.
Now housed in the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University, the world's largest collection of Davis documents and research files is accessible to researchers.
As noted Civil War scholars Frank E. Vandiver and Allan Nevins worked at the Huntington Library in the early 1960s, they discovered a number of important Davis items not available in print and decided that a new edition was needed. Vandiver, then a professor at Rice, secured sponsorship from the university, and in 1963 the Jefferson Davis Association was incorporated by the State of Texas. Editorial offices opened in December 1964, and after several years of scouring the country for documents, the first volume was published in 1971.