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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Desobry, Louis. Partnership Agreement and Amnesty Oath, 1854-1865. 2 items. Location: Misc:D, OS:D. Sugar planter of Plaquemine, Iberville Parish, Louisiana. Articles of agreement establishing a partnership for the ownership and operation of Irion Plantation, a sugar plantation near Plaquemine. The terms of the sale of land and slaves state that the partnership will be called 'Desobry's and Company'. Included is an oath of amnesty and allegiance to the United States signed by Louis Desobry (1865). For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 893.

Referenced in Guides: Sugar, Plantations, African Americans

Devall-Hyams Family Papers and Photographs, 1824-1977 (bulk 1906-1913, 1918). 1.5 linear ft., 1 v. Location: T:31-32, J:20. Louisiana sugar planters. Collection consists of personal correspondence, legal documents, genealogies, and family photographs. Papers reflect family matters, personal activities, financial affairs, land transactions, and to a lesser extent the sugarcane crop at Orange Grove Plantation. Letters of Lillie Dickinson, Susie Devall comprise a large portion of the correspondence (1904-1913). Letters by Benjamin Devall concern military life in Georgia during World War II (1918). Photographs include an unidentified African American sugarhouse worker (undated). For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4242.

Dewees, John and Family. Papers, 1785-1954. 1.6 linear ft., 4 v. Location: W:47, M:19, OS:D. Consists of correspondence, legal and business papers, printed items, and photographs concerning the Dewees and related Postell, Gadsden, Lyman, and Colcock families, planters and slaveholders near Charleston, South Carolina and Eunice, Louisiana. Includes land and slave sale documents, tax receipts, stocks and bonds, court decisions, wills, deeds, estate settlements, marriage certificates, and property settlements. Photographs include two manuscript volumes: one a photograph album and the other a memory book with photographs and newspaper clippings. There are 185 loose photographs, most portraits of family members (1851-ca. 1920). Mss. 3089.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Business, African Americans

Diary, 1835-1837. 1 vol. Location: M:19. Available on microfilm 5750: University Publications of America Southern Women and Their Families in the 19th Century: Papers and Diaries Series E, Reel 33. Governess from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at Belfield Plantation near Natchez. Diary records reactions to plantation life, amusements, visits to neighbors, and expressions of discontent with the South. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 533.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Women, Natchez, Mississippi

Dougherty, John A., b. 1809. Papers, 1861-1890. 8 ms. vols. and 1 item (on 1 microfilm reel). Location: Mss.Mf:D. Native of New York, plantation owner, and prominent citizen of Baton Rouge. Dougherty served as a police juror and as president of the New Board of Control of the penitentiary. Six diaries of Dougherty and two receipt books, one of which belonged to A. T. Prescott. Diary entries report on family, neighbors, acquaintances, and associates; historical events and personages; social activities; and government, law, and health. Also included are entries reporting on the cotton and sugar plantation economy; climate; and dreams. Noteworthy are the entries pertaining to the Civil War and the daily notations on weather. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3528.

Referenced in Guides: Politics, Plantations, Civil War, Baton Rouge

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