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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Washington, George, 1732-1799, Letter, 1799 Dec. 10. 1 item (facsimile). First President of the United States. Letter to James Anderson with attached plans for the operation of Washington's plantations for the calendar year 1800. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 965.

Referenced in Guides: Politics, Plantations

WBRZ collection, 1969-1970. 337 items, 3 reels. Location: X:54. Television station in Baton Rouge. Collection includes script, film, and slides from a television broadcast about Solitude Plantation, West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana; a collection of pictures of historical subjects; and a videotape of an interview originally made by the LSU CCTV system. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2459, 2528.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Baton Rouge, LSU

Webber, Benjamin Franklin, d. 1940. Ledger, 1911-1941. 1 vol. (on microfilm) Location: Mss. Mf.:W Storekeeper of Montpelier, Clay County, Mississippi. Ledger contains entries for sales of general merchandise and labor performed by tenant farmers. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2963.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Business

Webre-LeBlanc Family Papers, 1820-1986 (bulk 1912-1936). 0.5 linear ft. Location: 40. The Webre and LeBlanc family members owned and operated many plantations and general stores in south Louisiana. The Desire LeBlanc Plantation was known for producing perique tobacco, and his daughter Alcidie was a sugar farmer with her husband Louis S. Webre. Edward C. Webre was one of the first graduates of the Audubon Sugar Institute, and Frank Sevin worked for the Webre-Steib Co. Ltd. which operated the Golden Ridge Plantation. The Webre-LeBlanc Family Papers consist of correspondence, receipts, photos, ledgers, and genealogy information. These papers document the Webre-LeBlanc family ties and business interactions from 1820 to 1968. Mss. 4145.

Referenced in Guides: Sugar, Plantations, Business

Wederstrandt, Charles. Document, 1827. 1 item (notarized copy). Location: Misc.:W. Resident of St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. Bill of sale for one-third interest in Magnolia Grove Plantation by Wederstrandt to the Bank of the United States. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 668.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations

Weeks, David. Family Papers, 1782-1957 (bulk 1830-1870). 10,106 items, 15 vols. Location: 70, J:6, X:76, Mss. Mf.:W . The Weeks and related Conrad, Moore, and Gibson families were planters of New Iberia, Louisiana, and other areas in south Louisiana. Papers document the sugar plantation economy; cotton planting; slaves and free African American laborers; railroad building; state and national politics; education; and the Civil War and Reconstruction. Includes early papers of Charles N. Conrad, U.S. senator; political correspondence of John Moore, U.S. congressman; and a microfilmed inventory of The Shadows in New Iberia. Available on microfilm 5322: University Publications of America Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations from the Revolution to the Civil War, Series I, Part 6, Reels 1-20. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 528, 605.

West Indies land and property records, 1798-1883. 14 items. Location: Map Cage: Map Case 14, Drawers 5-6. Selected public documents reflecting land tenure mainly in the Parish of Vere, Jamaica, principally for George Radcliff, a sugar planter (1809-1839). Other documents pertain to lands in the West Indies and include a conveyance (1798) for the sale of a plantation, slaves, and livestock on the island of Antigua and a mortgage and lease for two coffee plantations in the colony of Berbice, British Guiana (1813). Additionally, one item documents the surrender of the charter of the Levant Company (1825), a group of British merchants trading in the eastern Mediterranean area, particularly with Turkey. Part of the West Indies Collection. Mss. 622.

Referenced in Guides: Sugar, Plantations, Women, Business

White (Edith) Photograph Collection, circa 1850 - 1970. 261 items. Location: 65. The Edith White Photograph Collection consists largely of photographic images created between circa 1850 and 1970. This includes daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes, albumen prints in various formats, gelatin silver prints in various formats, resin-coated paper prints, and photographic color prints. Many of the images are identified. These identified prints relate largely to the McKowen, Woodside, and White families. The collection also includes a number of newspaper clippings and a printed death notice. The clippings provide information about the McKowen, Glynn, and White families. The printed death notice relates the death of Maggie Germany Woodside. Mss. 4758.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Women

White, Maunsel. Papers, 1852, 1897-1898. 4 items. Location: Misc.:W. Cotton factor, planter. Letters and documents establishing the title and sale of Ashley Plantation in Pointe Coupee Parish, La., by John Julian Pringle to Albert A. Batchelor in 1898. Ashley Plantation was formerly owned by Maunsel White, who sold the plantation to Pringle in 1852. The papers include a bill of sale transferring the title of the plantation and the ownership of 52 slaves. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1293.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, African Americans

White, Maunsell, ca. 1780-. Letterbook, 1845-1850. 1 ms. vol. Location: Mf.:W., Misc.:W. Sugar planter of Deer Range Plantation, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana. Letterbook containing family and business letters dealing with sugar planting, processing, and slavery; politics; support for a university in Louisiana; and the planning and construction of the State Capitol Building in Baton Rouge. Original letterbook is located at the University of North Carolina Library. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2888.

Wilkins, W. W. (William Webb), d. 1859. Letters, 1848-1852. 6 items. Location: Misc:W. Plantation owner and saw mill operator of East Carroll Parish and St. James Parish. Collections contains six letters from Wilkins to his brother, Edmund, in North Carolina, concerning crops, plantation life, slaves, and his neighbors. Available on microfilm 5322: University Publications of America Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations Series I, Part 1, Reel 10. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4005.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Business, African Americans

Wilton Plantation sugarhouse plan, circa 1830-1870. 1 item. Location: OS:W. Sugar plantation owned by the Bruce, Seddon, and Wilkins Company near Convent, St. James Parish, Louisiana. Floor plan of a sugarhouse shows the location and dimensions of rooms and equipment. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2763.

Referenced in Guides: Sugar, Plantations

Wilton Plantation letter, 1863 April 1. 1 item. Location: Misc.:W. Cotton plantation apparently located in Louisiana and apparently owned by W. C. Wagley of Lake Providence. Letter from the plantation manager to Wagley reports on progress of picking and ginning operations under federal government contract and contraband labor. Information is provided about disposition of abandoned plantations and relations with freedmen. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2983.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Civil War, African Americans

Wise, James Calvert. Papers, 1860-1917. 1.75 linear ft., 2 volumes. Locations: UU:154-155, K:37, OS:W, Vault:1. Native of Maryland who settled in Rapides Parish, Louisiana. During the Civil War he organized the Red River Rebels, which became part of the First Louisiana Regiment. Wise owned Grand Bend Plantation on the Red River. Collection contains Wise's personal, political, business, and military papers. Printed items include Confederate tax forms, currency, a notice to planters and freedmen from the U.S. Army, and papers related to the Republican party. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3239.

Witherell, W. Frank. Papers, 1839-1958 (bulk 1860-1889). 6 linear ft. Location W:129-135, F:19, OS:W. Native of New York, West Point graduate, businessman and entrepreneur, in business with his uncle, W. H. H. Witherell, a New Orleans commission merchant and dealer. Correspondence related to the wholesale trade in hides and mining ventures in the West comprises the majority of this collection. Early papers relate to W. H. H. Witherell's dealings in Natchez and offer insight into the attitudes of West Point cadets towards the Civil War and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln (1860-1865). Items associated with the hide trade include, shipping records, invoices, bills of lading, bank drafts, and receipts. Additional papers pertaining to mining enterprises contain assay certificates, invoices, contracts, deeds and reports on mines. Also included is material related to extending telephone service west of the Mississippi River and a plantation journal recording daily work activities, and sugarcane production for Magnolia Plantation, Plaquemine Parish, La. (1877-1880). Mss. 1498, 1503, 1555, 1776.

Wood, William W. Account books, 1835-1866, 1886. 2 vols. Location: H:23. Purvis, Wood, and Company were cotton commission merchants of New Orleans. Fragmentary ledger of Purvis, Wood and Company containing accounts and a list of planters and their addresses in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas; and a cashbook of Silas and W. W. Wood containing records of personal and business expenditures. Included in the cashbook are work sheets for laborers showing location and amount of timber cut and statements of account for supplies with James Dunning and Solomon Johnston. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1103.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, New Orleans 1866-, Business

Woodland Plantation inventory, 1966. 1 item (11 pages). Location: Misc.:W. Plantation located in Mississippi. Itemized inventory of household goods of Woodland Plantation appraised by Merritt Shilg for Morton's Auction Exchange, New Orleans. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2173.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, New Orleans 1866-, Business

Woodland Plantation photographs, circa 1920-1960. 2 copy prints. Location: 65:5. Two copy prints present images of Woodland Plantation in Plaquemines Parish, La. One shows a man standing in front of the decayed slave quarters while the other shows the front of the main house. Mss. 3322.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations

Wright, Charles L. Papers, 1884-1970 (bulk 1907-1934). 2 linear feet. Location: 32:134, OS:W. Wright worked in the lumber industry and ran the Excelsior Cypress Co. mill at Timberton, St. James Parish, Louisiana. The mill operated from 1907 to 1927. Collection consists of correspondence and letters, financial and legal papers, photographs, and printed items. These relate to Wright and his family's personal matters, the operation of Neta Plantation (the family farm), and the Excelsior Cypress Co. For more information see online catalog. Mss. 4785.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Business

Wright, Jesse D. Papers, 1831-1906 (bulk 1835-1882). 1.2 linear ft. Location: OS:W, UU:248-249. The Wright family owned lands in Louisiana and Texas. Jesse practiced medicine in Rapides Parish, Louisiana and also managed several business concerns, including a store and plantations, and was active in civic and church affairs. Correspondence mostly reflects the business concerns of the Wright family. Topics include land acquisition, property management, division of property, settling wills, and financial and legal concerns. Other items include Ester Wright Boyd's memoirs. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 99.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Women, Business, Medicine, LSU

Wright-Boyd Family. Papers, 1812-1914. 2.5 linear ft. Location: R:23-24, OS:W, 65:61. The Wright family owned plantations in Rapides Parish, Louisiana. Esther Gertrude Wright married David French Boyd, president of the Louisiana State Seminary, later LSU. Papers include correspondence, diaries, journals, memoirs, and photographs. The papers mainly document the lives of the women members of the Wright and Boyd families. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3362.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Women, LSU

Wynne, Michael D. Collection, 1826-1976. 6 linear ft., 13 volumes. Location: W:34-35; P:19; 5:31-32, 43; VAULT MRDF 6; VAULT:1, 25; OS:W. Resident of Lafayette, Louisiana, and collector of historical materials on south Louisiana history and culture. Collection includes papers of planters, Civil War soldiers, politicians, and professionals. It contains letters, Confederate currency, sheet music, photographs, newspaper clippings, and scrapbooks documenting New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and surrounding parishes. Also included are papers of the Mayer Brass Band of Opelousas, Louisiana (1892-1909). For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3053.

Young, Robert Thomas, 1812-1890. Family Papers, 1793-1927 (bulk 1830-1890). 0.5 linear ft. Location: E:35, OS:Y. Cotton planter of the Plains in upper East Baton Rouge Parish. Correspondence, legal documents, financial papers, slave lists and bill of sale, personal papers, and printed items document the lives of the Young family. Included are letters written during the Civil War by Robert's sister-in-law, Julia. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4548.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Women, Civil War, African Americans