Manuscript Resources on Baton Rouge History

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was first discovered and named by the French explorer Iberville in 1699, almost three centuries ago. In the eighteenth century, it was ruled successively by the French, British, and Spanish. Incorporated in 1817, Baton Rouge became the state capital in 1849, though it lost that status during the Civil War and would not regain it until 1882.

This guide to manuscript resources on Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish, of which it is a part, includes a wide variety of materials on the history of the area, among them the papers of Baton Rouge families; the records of businesses and organizations; photographs; newspapers; maps; and oral histories. Although Louisiana State University has been a major part of Baton Rouge for many years, collections relating to LSU are included only if they also relate explicitly to Baton Rouge--for example, the papers of an LSU professor who was also active in community organizations and whose papers documented those organizations. Similarly, the papers of individuals in state government are not included unless they also relate explicitly to Baton Rouge.

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White, Maunsell, ca. 1780-. Letterbook, 1845-1850. 1 ms. vol. Location: Mf.:W., Misc.:W. Sugar planter of Deer Range Plantation, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana. Letterbook containing family and business letters dealing with sugar planting, processing, and slavery; politics; support for a university in Louisiana; and the planning and construction of the State Capitol Building in Baton Rouge. Original letterbook is located at the University of North Carolina Library. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2888.

White, Sam and Belcher, F. A. Civil War soldiers letters, 1863. 6 items. Location: Misc.C. Sam White and F. A. Belcher, Union soldiers stationed in Louisiana during the Civil War. Letters to their families describe their sea voyage to New Orleans and encampments at Baton Rouge, Algiers, and Brashear City (now Morgan City), Louisiana. Other topics include contraband slaves as laborers and as military recruits; and medical care. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3188.

Whitley, J. H. Letter, 1865 January 18.1 item. Location: Misc. Confederate lieutenant and a prisoner of war at Officers Prison, Fort Delaware, during the Civil War. William L. Graham was a colonel in the 16th Virginia Cavalry during the Civil War. Letter from Whitley, while a prisoner of war, to Colonel William L. Graham, telling of conditions at the prison, mentioning the arrival of prisoners from General Hood's army, and requesting information concerning friends in prison with Graham. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1108.

Referenced in Guides: Civil War, Baton Rouge, African Americans

Whitney, William H. Letters, 1863-1864. 34 items. Location: B:16. Officer in the 38th Massachusetts Volunteers during the Civil War. Letters describe civilian life in Baton Rouge under Union occupation, the daily life of a soldier, guerrilla warfare by Confederate troops, and the impressment of African Americans into the Union army. Whitney also writes about the Port Hudson battlefield after the siege, his unit's march to Shreveport from Alexandria, and the Union retreat after the Battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1043, 1046.

Referenced in Guides: Civil War, Baton Rouge, African Americans

Whittlesey, George W. Letters, 1862-1863. 6 items. Location: Misc.:W. Lieutenant colonel of the Thirteenth Connecticut Volunteers serving under General Nathaniel Banks during the First Red River Campaign. Letters from Thibodaux, Baton Rouge, Brashear City (now Morgan City), Alexandria, and New Orleans, Louisiana, to his cousin Eliza in Waterford, New York. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2449.

Who Would God Vote For - Duke or Edwards?, 1991. 1 item. Location: Misc: W. Flyer sent by the Comite Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, La., promoting a meeting to discuss the gubernatorial runoff election between Edwin Edwards and David Duke in 1991. Mss. 5003.

Referenced in Guides: Religion, Politics, Baton Rouge

Wilke, Francis Albert. Papers, 1906-1976. 16 items. Location: MISC:W, OS:W. Student at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, La. Papers reflect student life at Louisiana State University from 1916 to 1920. They include regulations booklet for Corps of Cadets (1918); photographs of Lee Himes, a LSU quarterback (1917), Phil Cooper, a 1918 LSU football player, and Red Rice, the 1917 discus champion; Other items contain a commencement program for 1920; and several newspaper clippings concerning Louisiana State University students, sports, and alumni. There are also two alumni reunion programs (1973, 1976) For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3071.

Referenced in Guides: Education, Baton Rouge, LSU

Wilkerson, Helen C. Papers, 1920-1958. 706 items. Location: X:92-93, OS:W. Assistant dean of women at LSU. Papers contain professional papers and correspondence related to Wilkerson's tenure as dean. Material also reflects her involvement in Baton Rouge women's organizations, balls, and festivals. Also included is a program for 75th annual commencement of the Natchez Institute in Natchez, Mississippi (1920); addresses delivered by Charles W. Pipkin (1931-1936); and an address entitled "The strange case of Louisiana and Huey P. Long," presented by Harry Gamble of New Orleans to the Louisiana Legislature. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1606.

Wilkerson, Marcus M. Papers, 1923-1958 (bulk 1930-1952). 3 linear ft. Location: X:94-96, OS:W. Director of the press and professor of journalism at Louisiana State University (LSU). Papers include correspondence, reports, speeches, photographs, and class and lecture notes pertaining to his professional life. Also included are papers concerning two LSU fraternities, the Rotary Club, and the Baton Rouge Country Club. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1606.

Referenced in Guides: Education, Baton Rouge, LSU

Williams, Lester J. (Lester James). Papers, 1853-1950 (bulk 1901-1950). 8.5 linear ft. (54 items, 2 ms. vols., 3 printed vols.). Location: 77:50-52. Physician and chief of staff at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge (1927-1946); president of the Louisiana State Medical Society (1923-1924). Papers include certificates awarded to Williams for appointments, achievements, commissions, and memberships; photographs; and a postcard album containing scenes of Baton Rouge and New Orleans (1901-1909). Collection also includes a scrapbook (1853-1868) containing printed poems and pictures, and manuscript poems. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2108.

Wilson, Henry J., d. 1872. Papers, 1779-1885. 335 items, 16 v. Location: B:17, J:7, Vault:79. Major in the U.S. Army during the first half of the 19th century. He participated in the relocation of Native Americans from Florida, the Seminole Wars and the Mexican War. Papers pertain to the removal of Native Americans from Florida, the Second Seminole War, Mexican War, court martials, and the transfer and sale of land in Louisiana and Arkansas. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 559.

Referenced in Guides: Baton Rouge

Winans, Fonville. Aerial photographs of Baton Rouge, 1947. 0.5 linear ft. Location: 102:79. Theodore Fonville Winans (1911-1992) was a photographer at Louisiana State University, the State Highway Commission, and his own portrait and wedding photography studio in Baton Rouge. The collection is comprised of 13 rolls of 35mm black & white negative photographic film that were shot by Winans between February and June 1947. The rolls contain 457 usable frames. The images depict the extent of Baton Rouge development at that time, when the city was undergoing a post-World War II expansion. Part of the Fonville Winans Collection. Mss. 4605.

Referenced in Guides: Baton Rouge

Wise, James Calvert. Papers, 1860-1917. 1.75 linear ft., 2 volumes. Locations: UU:154-155, K:37, OS:W, Vault:1. Native of Maryland who settled in Rapides Parish, Louisiana. During the Civil War he organized the Red River Rebels, which became part of the First Louisiana Regiment. Wise owned Grand Bend Plantation on the Red River. Collection contains Wise's personal, political, business, and military papers. Printed items include Confederate tax forms, currency, a notice to planters and freedmen from the U.S. Army, and papers related to the Republican party. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3239.

Witherell, W. Frank. Papers, 1839-1958 (bulk 1860-1889). 6 linear ft. Location W:129-135, F:19, OS:W. Native of New York, West Point graduate, businessman and entrepreneur, in business with his uncle, W. H. H. Witherell, a New Orleans commission merchant and dealer. Correspondence related to the wholesale trade in hides and mining ventures in the West comprises the majority of this collection. Early papers relate to W. H. H. Witherell's dealings in Natchez and offer insight into the attitudes of West Point cadets towards the Civil War and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln (1860-1865). Items associated with the hide trade include, shipping records, invoices, bills of lading, bank drafts, and receipts. Additional papers pertaining to mining enterprises contain assay certificates, invoices, contracts, deeds and reports on mines. Also included is material related to extending telephone service west of the Mississippi River and a plantation journal recording daily work activities, and sugarcane production for Magnolia Plantation, Plaquemine Parish, La. (1877-1880). Mss. 1498, 1503, 1555, 1776.

Wolford, Ella White Stroube, 1902- Dance cards and invitation, 1920-1922. 11 items. Location: Misc:W. Student at LSU. Dance cards and an invitation to LSU fraternity and sorority functions held at the Community Club, University Pavilion, and Golf and Country Club in Baton Rouge, La. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4312.

Referenced in Guides: Women, Baton Rouge, LSU

Womble-Abell-Norman family. Papers, 1859-2011 (bulk 1900-1955). 4.3 linear ft. Location: 103:40-44, OS:W. Womble-Abell-Norman family papers document five generations of personal activities, family life, and the genealogy of the Womble-Abell-Norman family and the related Buie family. Collection is comprised of correspondence, photographs, personal family papers, and professional papers of Evelyn Abell Norman. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4879.

Wood, Elmer Ellsworth. Papers, 1878, 1880. 3 items. Location: Misc:W. Certificates of merit from Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy at Alexandria, Louisiana, and certification of graduation at Baton Rouge. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 893.

Referenced in Guides: Education, Baton Rouge, LSU

Woodland family. Naaman J. Woodland, Sr., and Olive Coe Woodland Family Papers, 1936-1981. 10 linear ft. Location: 47:1-5. Unprocessed. Programs, clippings, brochures, church bulletins, and other items related to the First United Methodist Church of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Also included are memo books, blueprints, ledgers, correspondence, sermons, and other manuscript materials. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4123.

Referenced in Guides: Religion, Baton Rouge

Woolley, A.E. (Alban E), 1926-1997. Photographs and papers, 1940-1997. 11.5 linear feet. Location: 6:4-6:-6, 6:8-6:9. Alban E. (A. E.) Woolley was a photojournalist and resident of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This collection contains commissioned, professional, and personal photographs, as well as business correspondence, family letters, writings, printed items, and autobiographical items. The majority of the collection consists of 235 photographs created in the 1950s and 1960s and printed between 1995 and 1997 for LSU Special Collections. Also includes page proofs for unpublished manuscript, "Louisiana at Mid-Century: 1945 – 1960." Mss. 4650.

Referenced in Guides: New Orleans 1866-, Baton Rouge

World War I broadsides, 1918. 2 items. Location: Misc.:W. Notices, distributed by the Standard Oil Company of Louisiana at Baton Rouge, announcing the amount of sugar allowed each employee per meal in accordance with the monthly allotment by the United States Food Administration. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1359.

Referenced in Guides: Sugar, Business, Baton Rouge, 20th Century Wars