Manuscript Resources on Plantation Society and Economy

This guide describes manuscript collections documenting plantation society and economy in the Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections (LLMVC) at LSU. The plantation records and personal papers of planters, factors, merchants, and others whose livelihood came from plantations provide a wealth of documentation supporting research in plantation economy, slavery, and the social history of Southern landholding elites.

The collections described below touch upon all facets of plantation life. They include the papers of tutors, preachers, lawyers, and doctors who provided services to planters. They include the letters of Northerners who visited plantations in the antebellum period and wrote home about them, and those of Union soldiers who marched past plantations and sometimes plundered them. While the majority of collections are from the prewar years, there are substantial holdings on postbellum plantations as well. The sugar and cotton plantation records in LLMVC are among its most noteworthy and famed collections, and among the earliest collections that LSU acquired.

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Burruss, John C. Family Papers, 1825-1882. 407 items. Location: C:56,Mss. Mf.:B Methodist minister of Virginia and planter of Wilkinson County, Mississippi. Correspondence, and personal and business papers of the Burruss and Edward McGehee families. Papers relate to the Methodist Church and plantation operationst, including sugarcane growing, rice planting, the construction of a sugar mill, and African American laborers. They also reflect Confederate military life, and civilian life during the Civil War. A group of poems concern the 1845 presidential election of James K. Polk and George M. Dallas.For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1514, 2296.

Butler family. Papers, 1663-1950 (bulk 1813-1915). 16.5 linear ft. Location: S:2-S:8, OS:B, 65:, Vault:2. Cotton and sugar planters in West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana. Papers include letters, personal papers, financial and legal documents, photographs, and printed items. Papers discuss the Civil War; plantation life; Thomas Butler's judicial and political career; and antebellum life in the Gulf South states. Included is correspondence from prominent Louisiana residents and others. Letters from Anna Butler who lived in the White House (1849-1850) Collection also contains manuscript and published music, including the music of John Thuer.. Available on microfilm 5322: University Publications of America Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations Series I, Part 5, Reels 13-27. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 893, 965, 1026, 1076, 1217, 1240, 1309, 1353, 1381, 1640, 1649, 1913, 1938.

Butler, Anna and Sarah. Correspondence, 1838-1861. 1.5 linear ft. Location: S:23. Anna and Sarah Jane Duncan Butler were the daughters of Louisiana Judge Thomas Butler and Ann Butler. They lived at The Cottage in West Feliciana Parish near St. Francisville. Letters from friends and family reflect the social life and customs of antebellum Louisiana. Letters written by Anna and Sarah from home and during travels chronicle their social and private lives, describe local activities, and allude to national events. Available on microfilm 5322: University Publications of America Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations Series I, Part 5, Reel 1. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 581.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Women

Butler, Edward. Family Papers, 1809-1950 (bulk 1904-1945). 10 linear ft. Location: U:282-290, M:19, OS:B. Cotton planter of West Feliciana Parish, La. Correspondence, personal papers, business records, printed material, and photographs reflect the personal activities and plantation operations of the Butler and related Mathews families, with a focus on Edward Butler and his immediate family. Noteworthy are two letters discussing a sick slave (Dec. 29, 1817) and runaway slaves (Aug. 15, 1835). Letters also discuss student life, World War II experiences, and yellow fever in New Orleans (Aug.-Oct. 1837). For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4315.

Butler, James. Letter, 1804. 1 item. Location: Misc.:B. Letter addressed to the Duke of Ormonde, British ancestor of the Butler family of West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1537.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations

Butler, Louise. Papers, 1892-1950. 2.25 linear ft., 1 volume. Location: S:17-19, OS:B. Granddaughter of Judge Thomas Butler of The Cottage, West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana. Writings consist of poetry, short stories, and historical sketches of West Feliciana Parish. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 51, 523, 1069.

Butler, Margaret, 1821-1890. Correspondence, 1847-1880. .5 linear ft. Location: S:24. Daughter of Louisiana judge Thomas Butler and Ann Ellis Butler. She lived at the Cottage in West Feliciana Parish near St. Francisville. The Butlers were sugar and cotton planters. Letters from family and friends reflect the life of the Butler family in the antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction periods. Antebellum letters depict plantation life and religious life in the Episcopal church. Several family members served in the Confederate army and corresponded with Margaret, describing the life of army personnel. Later letters illustrate social and economic conditions after the war. Available on microfilm 5322: University Publications of America Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations Series I, Part 5, Reel 2. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1068.

Butler, Richard, 1777-1820. Papers, 1795-1899. 1.25 linear ft. Location: S:2, OS:B, Vault. Richard Butler, army officer and sugar planter, was the son of American Revolutionary War figure Colonel William Butler and Jane Carmichael of New Orleans. Papers include correspondence, financial papers, and plantation records. A diary describes Butler's travels from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Natchez, Mississippi, to deliver army dispatches. Included are two letters from Andrew Jackson to Butler. Available on microfilm 5322: University Publications of America Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations Series I, Part 5, Reels 2-3. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1000, 1069.

Referenced in Guides: Sugar, Plantations, Natchez, Mississippi

Butler, Robert Ormond. Papers, 1848-1888. 1.5 linear ft. Location: S:25-26, OS:B. Medical doctor in New Orleans and Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, and sugar planter and molasses producer in Terrebonne Parish. Papers include correspondence, financial papers, legal documents, printed items, and photographs related to Butler's business and professional lives. Available on microfilm 5322: University Publications of America Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations Series I, Part 5, Reels 3-4. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1068.

Butler, Thomas W. Papers, 1842-1913 (bulk 1869-1908). 7 linear ft. Location: U:17-19, J:10. Planter of West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana. Papers comprised of correspondence, plantation records, financial papers of Cedars Plantation and Butler's own personal and financial papers. Some materials relate to Le Carpe Plantation, owned by his father Richard Ellis Butler. Included are letters related to the higher education of Butler's children. Available on microfilm 5322: University Publications of America Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations Series I, Part 5, Reels 4-9. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 888.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Education

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