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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Smith, Philander. Letter, 1806 April 27. 1 item. Resident of Natchez, Mississippi. Letter from Smith to his brother Jedideah Smith of Massachusetts, relating his economic status, political views, and cost of living conditions of planters. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 634.

Referenced in Guides: Politics, Plantations, Natchez, Mississippi

Smithfield Plantation. Records, 1900-1970, undated 35 linear ft., 191 vols. Location: IMSMP, 124. Sugar plantation complex near Port Allen, West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. Business records include correspondence; bills and receipts; cane yield reports; tax returns; stock orders; ledgers; journals; and production reports. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2908.

Referenced in Guides: Sugar, Plantations

Smylie-Montgomery Family Papers, 1807-1919 (bulk 1807-1869). 1.25 linear ft. Location: C:116-117, OS:S. Family of Mississippi planters and Presbyterian ministers. Correspondence comprises the bulk of this collection, with some Church records and personal papers. Collection reflects the Presbyterian Church in Mississippi, plantation life, cotton, and family matters, with references to the Choctaw Indians, the behavior of slaves, and economic difficulties after the Civil War. For more information, see online catalog. Mss. 5038.

Snellings, John P. (John Phillip), 1834-1923. Account books, 1855-1905 (bulk 1894-1897). 1 linear ft. (11 vols.). Location: A:99, J:12. Merchant of Elbert County, Georgia, and planter and commissary operator of Bunkie, Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana. Collection includes individual account sales records, plantation records, a volume of verses written by Snellings, and a volume used to practice penmanship. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 956.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Business, Literature

Snyder, Alonzo. Papers, 1779-1919 (bulk 1800-1861). 3,534 items, 6 volumes. Location: R:38-40, J;7, OS:S. Cotton planter, judge, and Louisiana senator from Madison and Tensas parishes, Louisiana. Snyder's business, official, and personal papers consist of letters, land records, financial papers, and legal record books that reflect legal cases, state laws, politics, plantation management, secession, the Civil War, public health, and his family. Snyder served as attorney for the estate of Jacob Bieller of Concordia Parish, Louisiana, and these files include correspondence and reports from Natchez, Mississippi, businessmen. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 655.

Snyder, Caleb Hurst. Records, 1886-1901. 1 vol. (on microfilm). Location: MSS.MF:S (filmed on microfilm reel with Alanson Wood Moore and Family Papers; shelved at MSS.MF:M). Cuba Plantation commissary and store ledger. Mss. 3896.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations

Somerville, James. Letter, 1874 Aug. 26. 1 item. Location: Misc.:S. James Somerville, an attorney in Carrollton, Miss., writes Frank Wilson of Brentwood, Miss., regarding a legal case involving ownership of a plantation. Mss. 3975.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations

Songy, Edward Barbarouse, 1854-1943. Family photograph, circa 1916. 2 photographic prints. Location: 65:5. The Songy Planting Co., Ltd., was incorporated in 1906 with Alfred Songy, president; Edward Songy, vice-president; and P.G. Songy, secretary and treasurer, to carry on the business of a sugar plantation in St. John the Baptist Parish, La. A 5 x 7 in. original albumen print mounted on an 8 x 10 in. board depicts a family portrait of the Songy family on the front porch steps of a house. Mss. 4081.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations

Spyker, Leonidas Pendleton, 1818-1867. Collection, 1856-1932 (bulk 1856-1860). 1 vol. [typed copies]. Location: Mss. Mf.:S. Resident of Hard Times Plantation and New Hope Plantation, both in Morehouse Parish, Louisiana. Records include the plantation diary of Leonidas Spyker; a list of family names appearing in the diary; a sketch of the family of Sarah Mildred Gilmer, wife of Spyker; and a list of persons buried in the Spyker family vault in New Orleans. Included is a letter from Mrs. Theodore Wilkinson to Cecilia Egan describing a raid on New Hope Plantation by Union soldiers in the Civil War. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 589.

Referenced in Guides: Politics, Plantations, Civil War

Steele, Archibald B. Family Papers, 1830-1897, undated 22 items, 1 ms. vol. Location: Mss. Mf.:S. Planter and merchant of Amite County, Mississippi. Papers include business records, a family letter (1853), and a journal of Archibald Steele (1832-1840). For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2645.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Business, Natchez, Mississippi

Stephenson, P. D. (Philip Daingerfield), 1845-1916. Memoirs, 1862-1903. 44 items, 11 vols. Location: E:53, G:21, Mss.Mf:S. Presbyterian minister of Woodstock, Virginia, who served as a private in the Confederate Army, Missouri Brigade of Tennessee. Memoirs relate Civil War experiences based on diary entries and letters. He describes the defense and evacuation of Corinth, Mississippi, campaigns, and battles. Diary also recounts the Union invasion and occupation of Huntsville, Alabama. Reminiscences of his wife contain her comments on plantation life and the war. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2482, 2657.

Referenced in Guides: Religion, Plantations, Women, Civil War

Stewart, Ashton L. Papers, 1790-1967. 0.6 linear ft. Location: 91:29. Lawyer for the law suit of the Recreation and Park Commission for East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, versus Al. H. German. Papers include correspondence, manuscript documents, Baton Rouge maps, and legal documents. There are also five color photographs of Magnolia Mound Plantation house and grounds. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2445.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Baton Rouge

Stewart, Robert H. and family. Account books, 1822-1904. 0.5 linear ft., 57 volumes, 8 microfilm reels. Location: UU:211, H:18-19, J:23, MSS.MF:S. Mortician and furniture dealer of Natchez; and owner of Edler Grove Plantation at Bunch's Bend, Carroll Parish, Louisiana. Collection includes daybooks related to the mortuary business, ledgers and inventories related to the furniture business, and a plantation diary and record books. Of note is a ledger containing a list of African American funeral directors and benevolent societies. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 404, 4732.

Stirling, Lewis and family. Papers, 1797-1938 (bulk 1830-1860). 4.25 linear ft. Location: B:76-81, Vault:1, Vault:22, Vault CD MRDF 5 and 16. The Stirlings were sugar cotton planters of Wakefield Plantation, West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana. Business and personal papers of the Stirling family reflect antebellum plantation economy, education, health, and travel. Military orders and receipts for supplies relate to Lewis' service in the Louisiana militia and at the Battle of New Orleans. After 1860 the papers diminish in number and consist primarily of family letters discussing labor problems with freedmen, migration to and life in Texas during the war, and plantation, household, and personal bills. Available (with some omissions) on microfilm 5322: University Publications of America Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations Series I, Part 2, Reels 21-25. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1866.

Stone Wall Plantation. Cashbook, 1872. 1 ms. Vol. Location: M:21. West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, sugar plantation. Entries are mainly for wages paid to laborers, giving name and type of work performed. Other entries are for freight and plantation supplies. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 483.

Stuart, Ruth McEnery. Letters, 1896-1908. 6 items. Location: Misc:S. Louisiana writer, born near Marksville, Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana, where her family had a plantation. She lived in New Orleans as a writer until c.1885, when she moved to New York, where she continued to write short stories about plantation life. Several letters from Stuart to friends discuss such topics as her short stories, word etymologies, and Stuart's activities in New Orleans. A 1905 letter asks for part time work for Martha Waddill Austin, also a Louisiana author. Available on microfilm 5750: University Publications of America Southern Women and Their Families in the 19th Century: Papers and Diaries Series E, Reel 31. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1561, 3139, 3396.

Sumner, William Graham. Papers, 1876. 2 items. Location: Misc.:S. A correspondent in New Orleans writes Sumner lamenting the end of Reconstruction in Louisiana with the collapse of republican institutions and the poor condition of African-American sugar plantation workers (Nov. 17, 1876). Stephen Whitney writes Sumner from Woodland Plantation inviting him to visit to see a sugar plantation in operation (Nov. 18, 1876). Mss. 3858.

Referenced in Guides: Sugar, Politics, Plantations, New Orleans 1866-

Surget, Francis. Estate papers, 1848-1867. 83 items. Location: C:54, OS:S. Land speculator, planter, and one of the largest slaveholders of the antebellum South with more than 10,000 slaves. Surget had extensive holdings in Louisiana and Arkansas. Collection includes papers related to management of Surget's estates in Natchez; an examination and appraisal of lands in Arkansas; and papers related to an estate in Mississippi. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 12, 749.

Swift, John. Account books, 1830-1833. 3 vols. Location: G:7. Merchant of Bayou Sara, West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana. Daybooks and ledger include accounts for steamers, plantations, and individuals. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1100.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Transportation, Business

Taliaferro, James G., Letters, 1852-1876. 2 microfilm reels. Location: MSS.MF:T. Catahoula Parish, Louisiana, planter, judge, Secession Convention delegate, associate justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, and newspaper publisher. Letters discuss Taliaferro's involvement with the Secession Convention; politics during the Civil War (1865); Louisiana Supreme Court (1866-1874); Louisiana politics (1861-1874); Mississippi River flood of 1874; fires, cholera, and economic conditions in New Orleans; the visit of the Emperor of Brazil to New Orleans (1876), and plantation operations. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1562.

Referenced in Guides: Politics, Plantations, Civil War, Medicine