Bettie Black moved from Arkansas to Yalobusha County, Mississippi, in January of 1863 to live with her uncle and aunt, J. S. and Martha J. Richardson. The Richardsons owned a plantation near the town of Graysport, then located on the Yalobusha River, now a site covered by the waters of Grenada Lake, a reservoir northeast of Grenada. This collection consists of the diary Bettie kept during and just after her stay in Mississippi, accompanied by loose papers removed from it.
The diary contains daily entries from January to September 1863 and a summary for the year 1865. Entries detail the lives of Bettie Black and her family. In most, Black described household tasks she engaged in, especially sewing and weaving for her brothers and cousins, as well as her uncle's slaves. Some of the entries discuss Black's nursing of her aunt, Martha, and her cousin, Isabelle (Belle), both of whom had typhoid fever. Also mentioned are visits that Black made to her relatives in Providence, Mississippi. Black offered glimpses into the daily plantation and business affairs of her uncle, specifically the planting and harvesting of cotton and construction of a salt works in Graysport. She noted her interactions with slaves, including visits to mothers and their babies and attendance at a slave's funeral, and she recorded the names of several of them. Black also documented war news regarding the activities of her brother Sam, a member of Chalmers' Brigade; her cousin Willie, a member of Scott's Brigade; and her friend, Captain Stephens, a member of the McClung Rifles. Events such as the fall of Vicksburg and the burning of railroad cars at Grenada are briefly discussed, as well as the effects of the war, especially the Union blockade, on Black and her relatives and acquaintances in Graysport, Oakland, and Providence.
The accompanying loose papers include an 1878 newspaper article discussing people from Arkansas, several undated poems clipped from various newspapers, and handwritten lyrics to two songs that are also undated.