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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Turner, Edward, 1778-1860. Family Papers, 1767-1878. 173 items, 1 ms. Vol. Location: S:120. Judge and planter of Natchez, Mississippi. Collection includes family correspondence, legal and business papers, plantation documents, poems, photographs, a specimen of currency (1778), and an issue of the newspaper Southern Watch Tower (1843). For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1403.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Literature

Tuttle, Isaac O. Letter, 1840. 1 item. Location: Misc.:T. Resident of or visitor to Franklin, St. Mary Parish, Louisiana. Letter to his cousin Miss Maria E. Seeley, of Fairhaven, Connecticut. Tuttle comments on the social customs of the Southern people, and describes the natural beauty and graciousness of Creole ladies at a plantation ball. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 872.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Women

U. S. Quartermaster Patterson. Letters, 1864-1865. 3 letters. Location: Misc.:U. Quartermaster for the U.S. Army 1st Texas Cavalry during the Civil War. Letters signed “your brother Patterson” tell of duties as U.S quartermaster, the presence of small bands of Confederate troops near Morganza, difficulties in the cotton market, the landscape and local civilians. He describes farmlands and the plantation house occupied by his regiment in West Pascagoula, and he comments on the plantation labor system and freedmen. For further information, see online catalog record. Mss. 5198.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Civil War, African Americans

Uncle Sam Plantation papers, 1805-1914 (bulk 1880-1911). 12.5 linear feet, 183 volumes, 6 microfilm reels. Location: UU:217-228, P:11-13, OS:U, MSS.MF:U. Plantation built by Samuel Fagot of St. James Parish, Louisiana, in the 1840s; it produced sugar cane and was known as Constancia Plantation prior to 1864. The plantation store operated circa 1875-1914. Collection includes business records, correspondence, slave and free labor records, and plantation store records and scrip. Later papers include payroll accounts and labor statistics for Cypress Knee Plantation. Some correspondence in French. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 408, 602, 1252.

Referenced in Guides: Sugar, Plantations, Business, African Americans

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

United States. Army. Department of the Gulf. Bureau of Free Labor. Rules and Regulations Governing Colored Labor at Work on the Plantations under Control of the U.S. Government. 1863 March 9. 1 item. Location: EPHEMERA SUBGROUP II. Major General Benjamin Franklin Butler instituted the enlistment of former slaves into the Union army and later established a wage-labor system on sugar plantations. General Superintendent of Negro Labor, George H. Hanks, was charged with overseeing that wage-labor rules were observed on working plantations. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4822.

Ventress Brothers account books, 1900-1901. 2 ms. Vols. Location: J:12. Residents of Woodville, Wilkinson County, Mississippi. James Alexander Ventress married Sallie Mathews of Greenwood plantation, West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, where these account books were found.. Ledgers contain accounts for Caledonia, Lake Home, and Longwood plantations of Pointe Coupee Parish. The flyleaves of both volumes bear the inscription "Ventress Brothers, Pointe Coupee Property, Ventress and Fordeche Post Office, "Caledonia," "Lake Home," "Longwood," Interior of Island, etc., Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana." Mss. 910.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Business, Natchez, Mississippi

Vincent-David Papers, 1831-1881. 222 items. Location: C: 48. Cotton planters of Pointe Coupee Parish, La. Personal and business papers of Jean Vincent and Jean Baptiste David, of Fausse Rivierre Plantation, consist of financial papers, bills for medical services and correspondence from commission merchants. In French. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1203.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Business, French, Medicine

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.

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.

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