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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Carson, William Waller. Family records, 1845-1930. 1 vol. Location: F:23. Residents of Tennessee and Mississippi. Family records include genealogical listings, biographical and autobiographical sketches, and correspondence, all pertaining to the history of the Carson and related Waller, Green, Hutchins, and other families. Included is information about plantation life, slavery, and the Civil War. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2919.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Civil War, African Americans

Carter, Felix. Family papers, 1957. 2 items. Location: Misc. A program for a meeting of the Bunkie Service Association (1957) and a 3-page manuscript of advice on Christian conduct of life for an African-American Baptist congregation were removed from the family Bible of Felix Carter and Charity Dokes. Mss. 3849.

Referenced in Guides: Religion, African Americans

Cartwright, Samuel A. (Samuel Adolphus) and family. Papers, 1826-1864. 67 items, 2 manuscript volumes. Location: U:109, Vault. Physician of Natchez, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Cartwright was a Confederate army physician, and at one time a professor of diseases of the African American in the Medical Department of the University of Louisiana. Papers include correspondence, photoprints, and a European travel diary. Correspondence relates to politics, slavery, and education in the South, including letters from Jefferson Davis and other prominent individuals. Included is a treatise on 'camp dysentery' written by Cartwright. For further information, see online catalog. Filed under Cartwright, Samuel Adolphus. Papers in Archives USA. Mss. 2471, 2499.

Cartwright, Samuel A. (Samuel Adolphus). Letter, 1849 August 8. 2 items. Location: MISC:C. Physician of Natchez, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Cartwright was a Confederate army physician, and at one time a professor of diseases of the African-Americans in the Medical Department of the University of Louisiana. Letter to Doctor Q. A. B. Quesenbery discusses the treatment and prevention of cholera. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3234.

Referenced in Guides: Education, African Americans, Medicine

Cartwright, Samuel A. (Samuel Adolphus). Prescription, 1833. 1 item. Location: MISC:C. Physician of Natchez, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Cartwright was a Confederate army physician, and at one time a professor of diseases of the African-Americans in the Medical Department of the University of Louisiana. Prescription for cholera. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 672.

Carver, George Washington, 1864?-1943. Letter: to Harry Ittner, 1933 March 8. 1 item. Location: Vault. African American educator and agricultural scientist, and director of the Research and Experiment Station at Tuskegee Institute, Alabama. Letter by Carver to Ittner discusses Ittner's studies at Antioch College (Ohio), and comments on Carver's interests in music, motion pictures, and theater. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3412.

Causey, R. J. Correspondence, 1863. 4 items. Location: Misc:C. Letters from Causey's wife comment on a riot near Tickfaw involving African Americans, Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana; Confederate farm taxes; and transportation difficulties of sending cotton to Baton Rouge. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2133.

Chaney, Thomas R. Papers, 1863-1916 (bulk: 1893-1900). 0.3 linear feet. Location: U:310, OS:C. Papers consist primarily of business correspondence, but also include photographs, plantation map, and a commemorative booklet printed after Chaney’s death.  The majority of the correspondence is from Benjamin Pring to Chaney reporting on the operations at Oneida Plantation in St. James Parish. Mss. 5162.

Referenced in Guides: Sugar, Plantations, Business, African Americans

Chaplin, Breazeale, and Chaplin. Papers, 1806-1925 (bulk 1860-1905). 7 linear ft., 61 volumes. Location: B:55-63, K:34-35, OS:C, 98:. Law firm of Natchitoches, Louisiana. Phanor Breazeale was an attorney, president of the Natchitoches Parish school board, a newspaper editor, and a U.S. congressman. Collection includes correspondence and related papers of Chaplin, Breazeale, and Chaplin. Also includes business and some official papers of Phanor Breazeale reflecting economic, political, and similar matters in the Natchitoches area. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 952, 967, 1028.

Chase, John Churchill. Cartoons, 1927-1962. 10.6 linear feet. Location: 6:1-3. John C. Chase (1906-1986) was a New Orleans native and political cartoonist. The collection includes of 153 original 15 x 20" drawings of cartoons published in newspapers from 1949 to 1962. The cartoons reflect the political career of Huey P. Long, in addition to Louisiana and national politics. In addition to original drawings, the collection also contains five scrapbooks containing newsprint copies of the cartoons clipped from the original newspapers. Mss. 1414, 1549, 1568, 1806.

Referenced in Guides: Politics, African Americans, Long Family

Chelette, Atala. Family Papers, 1819-1919 (bulk 1841-1899). 160 items. Location: B:18. Family of free people of color of Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. A woman named Angélique, her children Pierre Edmond and Louis Onsime, Mary Athalie Joson (also called Josin), L. Martin Joson, and Joseph and Marie Rosalie Perot were free people of color associated with the Chelette family. Includes a true copy of the act of manumission for Angélique, described as a mulatto woman, by Louis Fort and his will, personal papers of Joseph Perot, a free man of color, and personal and business papers of Emanuel and Atala Chelette. Also includes letters from family members that moved to Texas. Available on microfilm 5750: University Publications of America Southern Women and Their Families in the 19th Century: Papers and Diaries Series E, Reel 6. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 979.

Referenced in Guides: Women, African Americans

Claiborne, William C. C. (William Charles Cole). Letter book, 1804-1811 (bulk 1804-1805). 3 items, 1 vol. Location: OS:C, VAULT:4, MSS.MF:C. Governor of the Territory of Orleans, first governor of the State of Louisiana. Correspondence concerns Claiborne's administration, relations with Native Americans, problems with the importation of slaves, Louisiana bank, Spanish land grants and land surveys in the Natchez District, and Catholic disputes in the district of Saint Bernard. Legislative act provides reimbursement for damaged houses and slaves killed or executed during the slave insurrection (April 25, 1811). One item in French. Letter book available on microfilm. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 71, 603, 965.

Claiborne, William C. C. (William Charles Cole). Letters and depositions, 1799-1846. 20 items. Location: Vault: 61, MISC:C. William C.C. Claiborne was governor of the Louisiana Territory from 1803 to 1812, and the state of Louisiana from 1812-1816. Letters and depositions discuss various aspects of territorial business including native and slave affairs, resident opinion, and political intrigue within the region. Other correspondence relate to Claiborne's family and his political and military connections. For further information see online catalog. Mss. 5018.

Referenced in Guides: Politics, African Americans

Clapp, Thomas. Document, 1841.1 item. Location: Misc. Certification by the recorder of mortgages for New Orleans that there is no mortgage in Clapp's name recorded against a African American woman named Maria. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 72.

Clark, Daisy Kidd. Papers, 1841-1975. 1 linear ft. Location: 9:77-78, OS:C, Vault. Baton Rouge resident. The collection consists of personal papers, printed items, photographs, and badges relating to the activities of Daisy Kidd Clark, family members, and the genealogy of the Kidd family and allied Betz and Gruenwald families. Personal papers and printed items also include material that relates to the Delta Omicron fraternity, the American Hemerocallis Society, and the independent Order of Odd Fellows. Notable is a the sale of a sale of a ten-year-old mulatto girl who had been born to a slave imprisoned in the Louisiana Penitentiary, East Baton Rouge (May 4, 1861) and a 19th century Japanese print. Mss. 3304, 3905.

Referenced in Guides: African Americans

Clark, Samuel M. D. Papers. 1835-1837 8 items. Location: Misc.:C, OS:C. Jeweler and Justice of the Peace of West Baton Rouge Parish, La. Mortgage of land and slaves (1837), sale of land (1835), receipts for pre-emption rights (1836), appraisers certificate (1836). For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 668.

Referenced in Guides: Business, African Americans

Clarkson, Thomas. Letter, 1842 July 16. 1 item. Location: MISC:C. English abolitionist. Clarkson mentions that his book addressed to the clergy of the United States was published only for America and is recognized as one of his best works. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2425.

Referenced in Guides: Religion, Politics, African Americans

Clement, George. Family Papers, 1863-1876 (bulk 1863-1867). 13 items and 1 ms. vol. Location: Misc.:C, M-18. French-speaking farming family of Lafourche Parish, Louisiana. Collection includes financial papers, legal documents, personal papers, and a time book (1878) recording hours worked by agricultural laborers. Largely in French. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1148.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, African Americans, French

Clifton, Elizabeth. Negroes' account for cotton, 1840 March 16. 1 item. Location: Misc:C. Document drawn up by John Bell, acting Justice of the Peace, Dallas County, Alabama, on behalf of Elizabeth Clifton listing names and money paid to African Americans by the estate of William C. Clifton for cotton raised on their own 'patches'. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3666.

Referenced in Guides: Women, African Americans

Clinton and Port Hudson Railroad Company. Papers, 1812-1859 (bulk 1838-1839), undated. 0.25 linear ft. Location: UU:73, OS:C. Railroad company in East Feliciana Parish, La. Papers include notarized copies of legal documents (chiefly mortgage documents, but also court judgments) and miscellaneous financial documents (receipts, bills, checks, and deposit slips). Of particular interest is a property appraisal document (April 19, 1842) that lists the first names of slaves. Appraisal document is for a legal case involving James Drummond and the Clinton and Port Hudson Railroad Company. Part of the East Feliciana Parish Archives Collection. Mss. 1100.

Referenced in Guides: Transportation, Business, African Americans