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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Close, John. Papers, 1802-1872 (bulk 1802-1859). 325 items. Location: U:330. Contractor's agent for the United States Army post at Opelousas and a cotton planter of Petit Bois Plantation, Port Barre, St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. Correspondence includes letters from New Orleans merchants concerning orders for supplies and other business at the Army post. Plantation papers consist mostly of correspondence of cotton factors in New Orleans. Personal papers include correspondence from Kentucky and Mississippi and genealogical information about the Chauvin family. Correspondence chiefly in French. Available on microfilm 5322: University Publications of America Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations Series I, Part 2, Reels 17-18. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1646.

Cockfield E.J. and Family Papers, 1854-1930 (bulk 1875-1890). 1.3 linear feet, 15 manuscript volumes. Location: A:65-66, P:19, OS:C. Planter and businessman of Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. Family papers spanning three generations include local Natchitoches news; correspondence and descriptions of the Cockfield family in Williamsburg County, South Carolina; and letters from a son in France during World War I. Included are items related to local public schools, including programs for musicals and plays at Louisiana State Normal College (now Northwestern State University). For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 989.

Colbert, Elenor Robinson, 1940-, interviewee. Oral history interview, 1993. 1 sound cassette (45 minutes), Index (2 pages). Location: L:4700.222. Resident of Four Corners, an unincorporated community south of Franklin, St. Mary Parish, Louisiana. Colbert's great-grandmother was a slave. Colbert describes working in cane fields as a child; customs of family gatherings, the burial of umbilical cords of newborns, and cutting hair on Good Friday; the challenges of plantation life; christening and baptism traditions; and natural remedies. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4700.222.

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

Cole, Christian Grenes. Family Papers, 1911-1935. .25 linear ft. Location: T:95. Correspondence, legal documents and financial papers reflect the business dealings of Robert Ruffin Barrow and Christian Grenes Cole of Terrebonne Parish, La. Papers relate to the bankruptcy of Myrtle Grove Syrup Co. Inc., confiscation of land in Terrebonne Parish, La., and a mortgage default in New Orleans. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3648.

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

Compton, Mary E. Family papers, 1858-1955 (bulk 1858-1888). 26 items, 2 v. on one microfilm reel. Location: Mss.Mf:C, C:72. Wife of George W. Compton, a planter of Walnut Grove Plantation near Cheneyville, Louisiana. Letters of Capt. Henry E. Handerson, 9th Louisiana, relate to life at Camp Bienville and the Battle of Manassas. Compton's diary documents wartime operation of the plantation. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1299.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Women

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