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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Thorn, (Jesse) Dale, (1942-2014) 1978-2013 (bulk 1981-1986) 1.25 linear feet. Location 43:69.

The materials in the Dale Thorn Papers consist of legal documents related to US v. Louisiana and the establishment of a higher education consent decree, professional writings and journal articles related to higher education administration, photographs and drafts for a book written by Thorn, greeting cards and materials from the Public Relations Society of America.

Dale Thorn was a journalist, press secretary, director of higher education in Louisiana and a journalism professor at LSU. He was born on October 7, 1942 in Brandon, Mississippi. He taught at LSU and was press secretary to Edwin Edwards during his first two terms as governor. He died on May 8, 2014.

Referenced in Guides: Politics, Education, Baton Rouge, LSU

Titcomb, Charles C. Papers and picture collection, 1820-1919. 1.9 linear ft. (5 items, 72 photographs, 27 glass plate negatives). Location: 65:, E:73, OS:T. Photographs and glass plate negatives depicting 19th century Louisiana scenes, including the Mississippi River, Lake Pontchartrain, Bayou Lafourche, New Orleans, and Baton Rouge. There are also images of St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Charleston. Manuscript items consist of a clipping about Peggy Wood, a poem, a list of glass plate negatives, and a letter by General Robert E. Lee. Glass plate negatives are restricted. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1795, 2532.

Town and Gown Players. Programs, 1935-1937. 5 items. Location: Misc:T. Community theater group in Baton Rouge. Programs from productions at the LSU University Theatre. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4616.

Referenced in Guides: Baton Rouge, LSU

Town, Clarissa E. Leavitt, b. ca. 1806. Diary, 1853, 1954, undated 4 items, 1 ms. vol. [typescript copy]. Location: A:4, Map case:D-5, S-24. Native of Buffalo, New York, living in the home of her daughter and son-in-law, the Reverend A. H. Lamon, in Devall, West Baton Rouge Parish, La. Entries pertain to trips to New Orleans and Baton Rouge, the religious and social life of the slaves, and holiday celebrations. Collection includes a photocopy of a section of the Persac map (1858). Also available on microfiche 2729 (Southern Historical Manuscripts, Plantation Records 1799-1900), Greenwood Publishing Co., Microform Division, Westport, Conn. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1376.

Tunnard, Fred D. Speech, 1860. 1 item. Location: Misc.:T. Manufacturer of farming equipment in Baton Rouge. Typewritten copy of a speech made by Tunnard on the Fourth of July. For further information, see online catalog.

Referenced in Guides: Business, Baton Rouge

Tunnard, Fred D. Diary, 1868-1870. 1 vol. Location: H:20. Manufacturer of farming equipment in Baton Rouge. Diary gives personal notes, expenditures, and lists of names of planters visited while traveling through Louisiana to sell equipment. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 596.

Referenced in Guides: Business, Baton Rouge

Tureaud, A.P. Collection, 1963-1964. 45 items. MISC:T. A.P. Tureaud, Sr. was the principal attorney for the Louisiana NAACP, handling nearly all desegregation and civil rights cases in Louisiana from the 1940s through the 1960s. In 1964, he represented six African-American students in a lawsuit against the Louisiana State University Board of Supervisors. These students became the first to integrate LSU's undergraduate program. This collection consists of photocopies of a selection of documents from the A.P. Tureaud Papers at the Amistad Research Center at Tulane University. Documents include legal correspondence and court records related to this 1964 case. Mss. 5222.

Referenced in Guides: Education, Baton Rouge, African Americans, LSU

Tureaud, Benjamin. Family Papers, 1803-1932 (bulk 1849-1880). 3,332 items, 88 vols. Location: E:114-116, J:1-3, OS:T. Plantation and store owner of Bagatelle, Brule, and Houmas plantations in Ascension and St. James parishes, Louisiana. Papers include plantation records, business records, and correspondence of Benjamin Tureaud and his family. Some records document merchandise sold to African American laborers. Partly in French. Available (with some omissions) on microfilm 6061: University Publications of America Records of Southern Plantations from Emancipation to the Great Migration, Series B, Part 1, Reels 3-13. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 427.

Turnbull, Dudley and family. Papers, 1834-1964. 299 items, 12 manuscript volumes. Location: W:40, OS:T. African American plasterer of Baton Rouge. Papers include personal and religious correspondence; business records; school workbooks; and photographs of Turnbull family members, religious events, and McKinley High School (Baton Rouge) faculty. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2907.

Turnbull-Allain Family Papers, 1784-1941 (bulk 1820-1890). 15 linear ft. Location: C:98-112, OS:T, 99:T. The Turnbull and Allain families were cotton and sugar planters of West Feliciana, West Baton Rouge, and Iberville parishes, Louisiana. Papers include correspondence, legal and financial documents, and plantation records. Included are a large number of Braille writings of Helene Allain, some written while she studied and taught at the Louisiana Institute for the Blind in Baton Rouge. Plantation papers include lists of slaves and laborers. Available on microfilm 5322: University Publications of America Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations Series I, Part 4, Reels 19-34. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4261.

Turnbull-Bowman-Lyons Family Papers, 1797-1955 (bulk 1820-1910). 3.5 linear ft. Location: C:113-115, OS:T. Sugar and cotton planters with properties in West Feliciana Parish, Iberville Parish, Pointe Coupee Parish, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans, Louisiana. Correspondence, plantation management papers, financial papers, legal documents, personal papers, and printed and graphic materials documenting the lives of members of the Turnbull, Pirrie, Lyons, Bowman, Barrow, Stirling, and Fort families. Correspondence discusses plantation, slave, financial, and social matters, and includes antebellum letters. Available on microfilm 5322: University Publications of America Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations Series I, Part 4, Reels 34-38. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4026.

Union soldier Frank Civil War letter, 1863 April 13. 1 item (4 pages). Location: Misc:A. Union soldier's letter from Baton Rouge to his sister Ann relating details of his present situation and his impression of the local population, of Baton Rouge, and of nearby plantations. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3309.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Civil War, Baton Rouge

Union soldier Oscar Civil War letters, 1863. 2 items. Location: Misc:U Letters from a Union soldier to his brother, from Camp Banks in Baton Rouge, discussing family news, soldier friends, illness caused by drinking Mississippi River water, scarcity of supplies and money, property destruction, and not attacking Port Hudson. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3271.

Referenced in Guides: Civil War, Baton Rouge

Union Soldier William. Letters, 1862-1863. 2 letters. MISC:U. Two letters written by William, a Union soldier, to his mother and sister. Letter dated February 23, 1863 at Baton Rouge describes the unfamiliar weather, traveling on the Mississippi River, and the sight of hundreds of  "contraband slaves while marching in the streets of the city. A December 29, 1862 letter written in Philadelphia includes descriptions of life in camp, food and Christmas rations, the soldiers' treatment by civilians, and the layout of the city. Mss. 5234.

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

Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge. Newsletters, 1971-1986. 0.5 linear ft. Location: 77:63. Newsletters, fliers, and announcements. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4594.

Referenced in Guides: Religion, Baton Rouge

United Daughters of the Confederacy, Baton Rouge Chapter. Collection, 1899. 1 item. Location: OS:U. Charter of the Baton Rouge Joanna Waddill Chapter no. 294 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, signed at Nashville, Tenn., by the president and the secretary of the association. The charter gives the names of 22 charter members. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 893.

Referenced in Guides: Women, Civil War, Baton Rouge

United States Army 77th Colored Infantry Regiment. Records, 1864-1865. 9 items. Location: OS:U. The 77th Infantry Regiment of the United States Colored Troops was organized on April 4, 1864, from the 5th Corps d'Afrique Infantry. Primarily muster rolls for Company H, providing name, rank, where joined and mustered (most enrolled in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, or Franklin, Louisiana), record of payment, and comments on status such as present, deserted, or dead and cause of death. The record of enlistment, pay received, and clothing issued for Privates James Jones and Anthony Whitaker of the 13th Infantry Corps d'Afrique are also present. A physical description of each soldier is included, as well as the location of his nativity. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4065.

United States. Ordnance Office. Letter, 1853. 1 item. Location: E74. Letter from Colonel Henry Knox Craig, Chief of Ordnance, Washington, to Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, with endorsement by the latter, regarding the appointment of Captain R. A. Wainwright to the command of the Baton Rouge Arsenal. Part of the United States Army Collection. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2078.

Referenced in Guides: Baton Rouge

Vialet family. Papers, 1799-1875, 1959 (bulk 1815-1855). 78 items. Location: 19:10. Personal and business letters and financial and legal documents of the Vialet family of Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Catherine Miranda de Casas and Pierre Ladouceur of Baton Rouge, B. Piveteau-Fleury of New Orleans, and the Bissonet, Primeau, and Ladouceur families of St. Louisi Missori. Mss. 5082.

Violette, Eugene M. Collection, 1785-1945. 4.3 linear feet. Z:3-4; OS:V; 99:V. Correspondence, printed material, writings, and LSU memorabilia comprise the Eugene M. Violette papers. Correspondence is of a professional nature reflecting Violette's association with the University, professional organizations, publishers, and colleagues. Printed items include newspapers and clippings related to Louisiana, football, World Wars I and II, and Huey Long's assassination. Imprints and publications pertain to a variety of topics including, early LSU history. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 615, 893.

Viosca, Percy, Jr. Photograph collection, circa 1920-1960. 904 black and white negatives; 782 gelatin silver prints; 259 resin coated paper prints. Location: 145:56-57. While employed by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Percy Viosca documented the coastal Louisiana landscape between 1921 and 1932. He traveled the state for his work that included mosquito control; riparian and marshland studies; flood control; taxonomic work with native Louisiana irises, newts, and snakes; culture of crawfish; and environmental impact of oil refinery practices. The images in this collection document locations on or near the Louisiana coast and a few sites inland. All images refer to water quality, water control, or environmental conditions affecting water quality. Mss. 4948.

Voorhies, L. J. (Louis Joseph). Blueprints, circa 1910-1975 (bulk 1923-1948), approximately 105 items. Location: MAP CAGE: CASE 1, DRAWERS 3-9; MAP CAGE FLAT; OS:V. Civil engineer for the city of Baton Rouge. Blueprints, drawings, and maps of civil engineering projects in Baton Rouge, Plaquemine, Port Allen, Slidell, and other places. The blueprints include architectural drawings and engineering plans of Hill Memorial Library, Louisiana State University. Items of special interest include plans (June 1941, undated) for the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola and maps showing the location of African-American and white households in Baton Rouge. Collection is unprocessed but open for use. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2960.

Referenced in Guides: Baton Rouge, African Americans, LSU

W.P.A. Louisiana Historical Records Survey Police Jury Minutes Transcriptions, 1811-1941 206 linear feet on 581 reels. Typed, printed, and handwritten transcriptions of Police Jury minutes and ordinances for 60 of 64 Louisiana parishes. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2984.

Waddill Family Papers, 1835-1994 (bulk 1861-1866). 0.5 linear ft. Location: E:18. George Daniel Waddill, a Baton Rouge druggist, was the son of Abel Waddill, Baton Rouge magistrate. George served as a hospital steward in the Civil War. Joanna Fox, later his wife, served as a nurse. Papers contain correspondence, including Civil War correspondence of George Waddill; genealogical information on the Waddill and Bessonett families; and an autograph book of Elizabeth McMichael. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4578.

Referenced in Guides: Women, Civil War, Baton Rouge, Medicine

Waddill, George D. (George Daniel). Papers, 1841-1892 (bulk 1861-1865). 21 items. Location: Misc:W. Confederate soldier in the Civil War and Baton Rouge druggist. Waddill served in the 3rd Louisiana Infantry Regiment. In 1863 he was appointed as a hospital steward. Civil War papers include military furlough and travel passes; Confederate bonds; military orders assigning Waddill to hospitals in Mississippi; an 1865 document granting parole to G. D. Waddill; and Waddill's 1865 Oath of Allegiance to the United States. Collection includes a letter from L. B. LeCand written from Corinth, Mississippi, to Joanna Fox of Natchez giving an account of the Battle of Shiloh. Available on microfilm 5735: University Publications of America Confederate Military Manuscripts Series B, Reel 3. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 891, 893.

Wall, Evans. Papers, 1924-1990 (bulk 1927-1963). 12 linear ft. Location: 91:30-35. Louisiana author, resident of Baton Rouge, and native of Woodville, Wilkinson County, Mississippi. Papers include correspondence, legal documents, printed items, typescripts, and manuscript drafts of Wall's literary works. Other papers include personal correspondence and photographic prints, negatives, and tintypes. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4411.

Wall, Richard. Account books, 1844-1857. 6 vols. Location: J:6. Merchant of West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. Ledgers, journal, cash book, and record book of Richard Wall. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 484.

Referenced in Guides: Business, Baton Rouge

Waller, William. Survey collection, circa 1798-1955 (bulk circa 1847-1890, 1910-1920). 9 linear ft., 1 microfilm reel. Location: 7:47-49, 56, Z:27, Vault:72, MSS.MF:W, 104:-105:. William and his brother Henry were parish surveyors for East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Plats, legal documents, notes, and correspondence related to surveys of the City of Baton Rouge, East and West Baton Rouge Parishes, and Greensburg, St. Helena, and Southeast Land Districts. Plats of other parishes in south Louisiana are also included. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3592, 3910, 4326.

Referenced in Guides: Baton Rouge

Walsh, Henry Hicky. Papers, 1841-1892, 1941. 9 items. Location: OS:W. Prominent New Orleans lawyer and grandson of Philip Hicky of Hope Estate Plantation, Baton Rouge. Papers consists of correspondence relating to family matters; certificate for land purchased by Armoigene Crochet and Senfroid Chedotale of Assumption Parish, Louisiana (Oct. 6, 1841); academic paper on classical literature (1854); commission from Governor Thomas O. Moore to Walsh for an appointment as 2nd lieutenant of the Pargoud Volunteers, Louisiana Militia (1861); newspaper picture of Hope Plantation; Walsh's diploma from University of Louisiana (1861); and obituary of Henry Hicky Walsh (1892). For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1622.

Walsh, Henry Hicky, 1833-1892. Family papers, 1808-1884 (bulk 1851-1884). 17 items. Location: Misc. Henry Hicky Walsh received a law degree from the University of Louisiana in 1856 and practiced law in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. These papers include a typescript of the will of Daniel Hicky (1808); letters received by Henry Walsh from family members (1851-57); a typescript of an obituary of Philip Hicky (1859); a funeral notice for his third son, Phillip Hicky Walsh (1867); and other personal letters and legal papers by Henry H. Walsh (1869-84). For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4372.

Referenced in Guides: New Orleans 1866-, Baton Rouge

Ward, John Langdon. Lantern Slides Collection, ca. 1800. 107 glass lantern slides. Location: 65:09. John Langdon Ward served with the 19th Corps through the siege of Port Hudson and was commissioned Major of the 3rd Infantry Corps d'Afrique (the third regiment of African-American troops in the United States, changed to 75th United States Colored Infantry July 24, 1863). Collection consists of 107 glass lantern slides (3.25" x 4.00") documenting the aftermath of the Siege of Port Hudson, La., May 23-July 9, 1863. John Langdon Ward may have created these slides around 1880. For further information, see online catalog or LOUISiana Digital Library. Mss. 4875.

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

Ward, Joseph. Record book, 1894. 1 vol. Location: J:6. Music instructor of Baton Rouge. Record book containing music and lyrics. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 439.

Referenced in Guides: Performing arts, Baton Rouge

Watson, Henry Clay. Manuscript, 1962 Oct. 3. 1 item. Location: Misc.:W. Report on the Baton Rouge Arsenal prepared from source materials in the National Archives and Library of Congress by Henry Clay Watson. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1973.

Referenced in Guides: Baton Rouge, Medicine

WBRZ collection, 1969-1970. 337 items, 3 reels. Location: X:54. Television station in Baton Rouge. Collection includes script, film, and slides from a television broadcast about Solitude Plantation, West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana; a collection of pictures of historical subjects; and a videotape of an interview originally made by the LSU CCTV system. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2459, 2528.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Baton Rouge, LSU

Weeks, David. Family Papers, 1782-1957 (bulk 1830-1870). 10,106 items, 15 vols. Location: 70, J:6, X:76, Mss. Mf.:W . The Weeks and related Conrad, Moore, and Gibson families were planters of New Iberia, Louisiana, and other areas in south Louisiana. Papers document the sugar plantation economy; cotton planting; slaves and free African American laborers; railroad building; state and national politics; education; and the Civil War and Reconstruction. Includes early papers of Charles N. Conrad, U.S. senator; political correspondence of John Moore, U.S. congressman; and a microfilmed inventory of The Shadows in New Iberia. Available on microfilm 5322: University Publications of America Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations from the Revolution to the Civil War, Series I, Part 6, Reels 1-20. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 528, 605.

West Florida Rebellion Papers, 1810, 1816, 1845. 15 items, 1 mf reel. Location: C:18, Mss.Mf:S., Vault MRDF 6, Vault:1. Documents pertaining to the West Florida Rebellion contain reports of the convention in Baton Rouge; reports to representatives of the people of West Florida; and orders and reports by Colonel Philomen Thomas to the inhabitants of West Florida. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 721.

Referenced in Guides: Politics, Baton Rouge

Western Voice circular, 1968. 2 items. Location: E:Imprints. Weekly tabloid which claimed to uphold fundamentalism, pre-millenarianism, and the second coming of Christ. Circular entitled 'Ten Million White People to be Driven From Their Homes to Make Room for Black Communist Soviet,' printed in the Western Voice. Includes a clipping from the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate (1968). For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3052.

Wheeler, Otis B. Religious architecture in Louisiana, photographic negatives. 1987-1993. 1 volume. Location: 19:13. Photographer of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 99 negative file sleeves containing color negatives (120 and 35mm) depicting religious architecture in Louisiana. Contact proof sheets of negatives are included. Images for the book Religious Architecture in Louisiana were selected from these negatives. An index listing structures alphabetically by city or town is included, with information about style, date of construction, architect (when known), National Register listings, and date of photograph. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4678.

Referenced in Guides: Religion, Baton Rouge

White, David. Papers, 1796, 1809. 2 items. Location: Misc.:W. Resident of the District of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Grant of land to David White (1796) signed by Baron de Carondelet; and a conveyance of land form David White to Parson Carter (1809). In Spanish. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 668.

Referenced in Guides: Spanish, Baton Rouge

White, Julian T. Papers, 1927-2010 (bulk 1965-2010). 6 linear ft., 18 rolled plan sets. Location: 120:, OS:W. Architect and first African American faculty member of LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Many of his projects involved Louisiana Baptist churches and Louisiana schools. Papers consist of architectural project materials (including project files and architectural designs and plans of various formats and sizes), teaching materials, and personal papers (including personal correspondence, portfolio materials, sermons, speeches, and printed materials). Mss. 5083.