Manuscript Resources on African American History

This guide describes manuscript collections documenting African American history in the Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections at LSU. It includes the papers of African Americans and their families; oral histories done with African Americans; and other collections that document African American history in one way or another. In the early period, these collections include documentation of slavery, the slave trade, abolitionism, and apologies for slavery. In the modern period, they include collections that document issues like civil rights, integration, and race relations.

Indeed, the experience of African Americans before and during the Civil War is often documented through the papers of others--among them, planters who bought and sold them as slaves and Union soldiers who commented upon them in letters and diaries. LSU has such resources in abundance. Papers of early African Americans themselves are more difficult to find. But Louisiana and the lower Mississippi Valley had a relatively large population of free persons of color, some of whom did leave papers. They worked as artisans in cities like New Orleans or Natchez, or were planters and even slaveholders themselves. LSU's collections of the papers of free persons of color include the papers of William Johnson of Natchez, now famed as a diarist and commentator on Southern mores.

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Anonymous traveler's letters, 1882 March 8-13. 2 items. Location: Misc:A. An unidentified traveler writes his son two letters from New Orleans, Louisiana. His March 8, 1882, letter describes his journey by train from Jacksonville, Florida, to New Orleans, complaining of the low state of the countryside and the manners of the poor whites and African-Americans. His March 13, 1882, letter gives a vivid description of New Orleans, including news of levee breaks and flooding on the Mississippi River. Mss. 3858.

Referenced in Guides: New Orleans 1866-, African Americans

Anti-Episcopal cartoon, ca. 1800-1865. 1 printed item. Location: E:Imprints. Carte-sized cartoon satirizes the Protestant Episcopal Church for its acceptance of Southern attitudes toward slavery. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2897.

Referenced in Guides: Religion, African Americans

Arceneaux, William. Papers, 1964-2007 (bulk 1972-2007). 15 linear feet and 20 volumes. Locations: 4:36, 4:43, 110:4-11, OS:A, Vault:2. Louisiana higher education official. Papers consist of correspondence, business papers, photographs, printed items, and scrapbooks related to the professional, civic, and personal activities of William Arceneaux. A small amount of correspondence is in French and Spanish. For further information, see online catalog Mss. 4107.

Arden, D. D. Letter and abstracts, 1856 May 29. 2 items. Location: Misc:A. Constable of Washington, St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. Letter from Arden to P. Gurnett appointing him leader of a patrol squad. Attached are laws stating that squads be armed with guns and have the right to enter and examine cabins and residences of African Americans without prior notice of property owners. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3108.

Referenced in Guides: African Americans

Arguments on slavery, intemperance, the press, and suffrage, 1832. 1 manuscript. Location: Misc. An anonymous debater in South Reading (now Wakefield), Mass., argues that slavery is a worse evil than intemperance and the freedom of the press is of superior importance to the right of suffrage. Mss. 3913.

Referenced in Guides: African Americans

Armstrong, Louis. Photograph, circa 1948-1949. 1 black and white photographic print. Location: MISC:A. Photographic print (8 in. x 10 in.) shows Louis Armstrong and His All Stars performing on stage. Members photographed include Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden, Arvell Shaw, Barney Bigard, Sid Catlett, and possibly Earl Hines behind Louis Armstrong. Photograph is also signed by Louis, Sid, and Earl. Mss. 5388.

Referenced in Guides: Performing arts, African Americans

Asbury Independent Methodist Church. Photographs, 1977. 5 items. Location: E. Church located in White Castle, Louisiana, with a predominantly African American congregation. Photographs depicting the church interior show the church's pastor and assistant pastors, the women's auxiliary organization, the church Board of Stewardesses, and a baptismal group. Hill stacks For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3177.

Referenced in Guides: Religion, Women, African Americans

Ashton Plantation auction broadside, 1859 December 8. 1 item. Location: EPHEMERA COLLECTION SUBGROUP III. Cotton plantation in East Carroll Parish, Louisiana, consisting of 1,800 acres on Bayou Macon and the Mississippi River. It was owned by Dr. William Webb Wilkins until his death (ca. 1859) after which it was auctioned to help settle his succession. Broadside printed to advertise the public auction of Ashton Plantation, which was ordered by the Fourth Judicial Court of St. James Parish, where Wilkins' estate was probably settled. The item briefly describes the real and personal property to be sold. Also listed on the broadside to be sold are ninety-eight slaves and their ages. 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. 3729.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, African Americans

Asselin, Hacharie. Papers, 1837-1838. 2 items. Location: Misc.:A Resident of St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana. Receipt for taxes on the land and slaves of H. Asselin and statement of N. Martin for tutoring and incidental expenses to Mrs. Hacharie Asselin. In French. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 893.

Referenced in Guides: African Americans, French

Assumption Parish records, 1841-1920 (bulk 1841-1891). 84 items. Location: U:6, 98:. Miscellaneous legal papers stating the value of a sugar plantation and slaves, with a copy of a lease for a house, lot, and billiard table in Napoleonville, La. (1841); subpoenas in a legal suit concerning St. Elizabeth Church (1852); and a broadside titled "Synopsis of Steamboat Laws" (1867). A printed invitation to attend a meeting of the Republican Executive Committee in Donaldsonville (1887), a broadside of the regular Democratic ticket for delegates to the state nomination convention and Assumption Parish officials (1891), and issues of The Assumption Pioneer (January 23, February 13, 27, 1909) are included. Mss. 14.