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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Bruce, Seddon, and Wilkins Plantation Records, 1741-1865 (bulk 1847-1854). 607 items, 6 ms. Vols. Location: S:124-125, J:20. William Webb Wilkins, James Coles Bruce, and James Alexander Seddon, partners in the ownership of sugar and cotton plantations, a saw mill, and a cooper's shop in Saint James Parish and Carroll Parish, Louisiana. Papers include legal documents, bills and receipts, correspondence, and manuscript volumes related to plantation operations and slave matters. Included are photocopies of a Union Army-issued circular and broadsides regarding slave employment and the subsistence of federal troops. Available (with some omissions) on microfilm: University Publications of America Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations Series I, Part 1, Reels 9-10. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2668.

Referenced in Guides: Sugar, Plantations, Civil War

Brusle, Charles A. Papers, 1854-1905. 32 items (includes 3 vols.). Location: U:20, F:11. Sugar planter of Plaquemine, Iberville Parish, Louisiana; and Confederate army officer; state legilator; tax collector; and sheriff. Papers include a diary, a record book, and scrapbook, primarily concerning Brusle's activities in the Civil War and in politics. Diary contains an account of his trip to the Creek Nation, Indian Territory, to muster a regiment of Creeks into the military service of the Confederacy under orders from General Benjamin McCulloch. Available (with some omissions) on microfilm 5735: University Publications of America Confederate Military Manuscripts Series B, Reel 3. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 558, 1605, 1627.

Referenced in Guides: Sugar, Plantations, Civil War

Buhler, John Christian and family. Papers, 1805-1952 (bulk 1824-1931). 437 items, 1 manuscript volume. Location: C:49, OS:B. Planter of Winters Plantation in Buhler's Plains near Baton Rouge. Collection includes family correspondence, chiefly of John Christian Buhler, John Robert Buhler, Mary Edith Buhler, Hester S. Simmons, and Jane (Jennie) Gillespie Buhler. Letters concern politics, notable persons, and social and economic conditions. Financial documents include a copy of an act of sale (1852) of a parcel of land by John Buhler and his wife to the town of Baton Rouge, now the site of Magnolia Cemetery. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1192, 1210, 1238, 1311, 1333.

Buhler, John Robert, 1829-1886. Papers, 1843-1914. 6 ms. vols. Location: H:17. John Robert Buhler was the son of John Christian Buhler, a planter of Buhler's Plains near Baton Rouge. After his marriage to Mary Reynolds, they lived at Independence Plantation, home of his grandparents, the Smiths, near Natchez, Mississippi. Papers include three volumes of a diary containing entries (1847-1849) reflecting family and social life on Independence Plantation and providing information on events in and around Natchez, Mississippi, and Baton Rouge. Includes another diary containing manuscript poems (1881-1914) by Mary Edith Buhler, an autograph book, and a notebook containing poems by Buhler. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1311.

Buhler, M. E. (Mary Edith). Papers, 1881-1931. 985 items, 7 ms. Vols., 8 printed vols. Location: C:50-51; H:17. Poet and journalist of Mount Independence Plantation near Natchez, Mississippi, and resident of New Orleans and New York City; author of The Grass in the Pavement (1918). Papers consist of her manuscript and printed writings published in the New York Times and the New Orleans Times-Picayune and of materials relating to her family history and genealogy. Available on microfilm 5750: University Publications of America Southern Women and Their Families in the 19th Century: Papers and Diaries Series E, Reels 1-4. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1192, 1210, 1333.

Bullard, J. A., Mrs. Letter, 1847 May 1. 1 letter. Location: Misc. Mr. & Mrs. J.A. Bullard describe flooding of the Mississippi River at Grand Gulf, Miss., and across the river in Tensas Parish, La., the abundance of flora and fauna, mosquitoes, riding horses, the cotton crop, and other news. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4039.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations

Burden, Dan. Papers, 1860-1898. 8 items. Location: Misc.:B. Resident of East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. Business and legal papers, including a probate court record relating to claims against the succession of Oscar Barber (1879) and copy of the lease of Myrtle Grove Plantation by Mary A. Pike to Dan Burden (1898). For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 255.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Baton Rouge

Burden, Ione and family. Papers, 1823-1980 (bulk 1900-1975). 13 linear ft. Location: P:39-45, OS:B. Louisiana State University (LSU) administrator and Baton Rouge philanthropist. Along with her brothers, Pike and Steele Burden, Ione Burden donated family land to establish the Burden Research Plantation and the LSU Rural Life Museum. Papers include correspondence, legal documents, financial papers, photographs, and scrapbooks of Ione Burden and her brothers. Collection documents Baton Rouge community events, family history, and Burden family philanthropic activities. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3063.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Women, Baton Rouge, LSU

Burden, Steele. Oral history interview, 1978. Transcript (13 pages). Location: L:4700.4. Landscape architect, gardener, and founder of the Rural Life Museum at LSU. Interview discusses Burden's work with Edward Avery McIlhenny (1872-1949) and Avery Island, and Weeks Hall's garden plan. It also discusses the landscaping and construction of Shadows-on-the-Teche in New Iberia, Louisiana. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4700.4.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations

Burguières, Jules M., Jr. Papers, 1699, 1816-1957 (bulk 1911-1915). 2.5 linear ft. Locations: 78:1-2, OS:B, J:30, E:65. Sugarcane planter and researcher, land developer. Papers consist of correspondence, research notes, clippings, photographs, and financial records relating primarily to Jules M. Burguières, Jr.’s involvement in the sugar and timber industries of Louisiana and Florida. Some research material in French and German. The estate papers of Joseph E. Burguières are also included. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1927, 2026, 2134, 2264, 2525.