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