French-Language Manuscript Materials

The imprint of French culture on Louisiana and the Lower Mississippi Valley has been deep and long lasting. French explorers and colonists were among the earliest Europeans to arrive in the region, beginning in the seventeenth century. Louisiana, named for Louis XIV, belonged to France for much of the 1700s and again from 1800 until it was sold to the United States in 1803. French settlers came to Louisiana both directly from France and indirectly from other areas. The latter included Acadians expelled from present-day Nova Scotia in the mid-eighteenth century and refugees from St. Domingue (present-day Haiti) in 1804. Some followers of Napoleon arrived in Louisiana after their leader's defeat in 1814. Other French immigrants came to Louisiana for a variety of reasons throughout the nineteenth century.

The French-language manuscript resources in the Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections (LLMVC) at LSU touch upon all these sources of French cultural influence. This guide to these resources includes descriptions of the papers of early colonists, French-speaking planters and free people of color in the nineteenth century, and residents of cities and towns like New Orleans and Natchitoches. The documents it describes came from farmers and merchants, writers and artists, women and men, the famous and the anonymous.

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Wailes, Levin, 1768-1847, Letter, 1816. 1 item. Location: Misc.:W. Register of the Land Office of the United States, Territory of Orleans (1810-1822). Letter from a Mr. Robin in Opelousas to Levin Wailes declining solicitations to have his name placed on the ticket as a candidate for political office. In French. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 995.

Referenced in Guides: Politics, French

Wante, Stephen. Property document, 1840. 1 item. Location: Misc.:W. Document concerns the legal status, ownership, and authenticity of title of lands along the Ouachita River purchased by Stephen Wante from Baron de Bastrop, a Dutch immigrant who had been granted the land by Baron de Carondelet, colonial governor of Louisiana under Spanish rule. A subsequent section concerns legal wrangling over lands owned by Wante in Virginia. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 438.

Referenced in Guides: French

Wartelle, A. L. Account book, 1826-1839. 1 vol. Location: J:6. Account book of Pierre Gabriel Wartelle contains records of charges for small household goods, tobacco, cosmetics, cloth, articles of clothing, and other items probably sold at a plantation store near Moundville Plantation in Washington, St. Landry Parish, La. The account book was later used as a scrapbook by A.L. Wartelle, who pasted clippings of newspaper articles and poems on the some of the first and last pages of the volume, covering up some of the original account notations. Account book in French, with newspaper clippings in English. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 440.

Referenced in Guides: Business, French

Wartelle, Pierre Gabriel,1787-1869. Family Papers, 1811-1976. 2 linear ft., 10 v. Location: UU:322-323, OS:W, O:62-63. French ex-patriate, New Orleans businessman, and sugar and cotton planter of St. Landry Parish, La. Collection consists of legal documents, account books, correspondence, printed material and personal papers that pertain to the business interests, plantation operations, and history of the Wartelle Family and Moundville Plantation. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 5025.

Watkins, William S. Document, 1819. 1 item. Location: Misc. Resident of Ascension Parish, Louisiana. Sale (notarized copy) of land by William S. Watkins to Fran?ois M. Rouzan of New Orleans. In French. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 441.

Referenced in Guides: French