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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Bienvenu family. Papers, 1779-1907. 143 items. Location: E:19. Planters of St. Martin Parish, Louisiana, and New Orleans. Business papers of Alexandre Devince Bienvenu and Pierre Armand Bienvenu largely concern land ownership and sales in the Attakapas region, St. Martin Parish and New Orleans. Collection also includes family letters and genealogical papers. In French. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2604.

Bills, John H. and family. Papers, 1825-1880 (bulk 1855-1861). 103 items. Location: A:17. Postmaster, merchant, and major of Bolivar, Hardeman County, Tennessee, who also owned a plantation on Bayou Bartholomew, Louisiana. Bills was the father-in-law of Tennessee and Louisiana legislator Horace M. Polk. Personal and business letters discuss lands in Arkansas, dealings with factors, cotton trade, national and Louisiana state politics, the Democratic Party, the Civil War Battle of Shiloh, and slave customs and behavior. Correspondents include Daniel Graham, James Walker, and Horace M. Polk. Additional items consist of statements of accounts, receipts, and bills of lading. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2075.

Bisland, John and family. Papers, 1762-1884 (bulk 1800-1859). 1,161 items and 12 manuscript volumes. Location: H:17, OS:B, U:241-242. Scottish immigrant, storekeeper, and planter who came to Adams County, Mississippi, from North Carolina. Collection includes personal and business papers of John Bisland, Sr., and his sons Peter, James, Alexander, John, and William, relating to the establishment and development of Bisland plantations near Natchez, Mississippi, mercantile enterprises, and family and local activities including education and health. Available on microfilm 5322:University Publications of America Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations Series I, Part 4, Reels 6-8. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 29.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Education, Medicine

Blanche, Alexander. Papers, 1851-1914 (bulk 1851-1856, 1881-1914). 79 items, 2 volumes. Location: W:48, VAULT:3 OS:B. Cotton planter of Marydale Plantation, Tensas Parish, Louisiana. Antebellum plantation diary contains notes about cotton farming; slave labor and health; weather; medical remedies; and other plantation affairs. Papers consist of correspondence, tax and payroll receipts, account sheets, and receipts for prisoners. Letters to Blanche from S. L. James include information on plantation supplies and prison laborers. Available on microfilm 5322: Records of Southern Plantations from Emancipation to the Great Migration, Series B, Part 2, Reel 11, and microfilm 6061: Records of Ante-Bellum Southern Plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War, Series I, Part 3, Reel 14. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3342.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, African Americans, Medicine

Blount, W. M. Account book, 1817-1860. 1 vol. Location: H:14. Record of payment to Blount in settlement of William Pitt Higbee's estate and account. Also recorded are the accounts of Mrs. Amelia Gradinego, Daniel Zeringue, members of the Close family, and others of Petit Bois, St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. Entries include commodity prices, prices of slaves, taxes, cost of schooling, wages for a laborer, and other expenses incurred by local planters. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 177.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Women, Education, African Americans