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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1st United States Infantry Regiment of Louisiana Volunteer Corps d'Afrique, Company II. Muster roll, 1863. 1 item (21 x 30.5 in.). Location: VAULT:72. In April 1863 Brigadier General Daniel Ullman was sent by the U.S. War Department to New Orleans, Louisiana, to raise a brigade of African-American troops; Major General Nathaniel P. Banks, at Opelousas, proposed the formation of the Corps d'Afrique. Muster roll identifies Edward Carter as captain, Spencer H. Stafford as colonel, and the regiment's sergeants, corporals, musicians, a teamster, and privates. Soldiers are listed by their names, and further description includes rank, time and location of enrollment, time and location mustered into service, and pay roll information. Most soldiers enrolled and were mustered in at New Orleans, while others were at Baton Rouge, St. Mary Parish, Bayou Ramos, Fort Jackson, Fort St. Leon, and Thompson Creek. Verso of item also contains lists of deceased, discharged, deserted, and resigned soldiers in the regiment. Several soldiers are listed as being killed in action before Port Hudson. Muster roll covers the period from July 1 to August 31, 1863, while pay roll covers the period from June 30 to September 1, 1863. Mss. 5379.

25th United States Colored Infantry Regiment, Company H descriptive book, 1864-1892 (bulk 1864-1865). 1 volume. Location: M:19. Books contains lists and registers of commissioned officers, non-commissioned officers, men transferred, men discharged, deaths, and deserters and a descriptive roll of Company H. The descriptive roll lists names, physical characteristics (including complexion), birthplace, occupation, enlistment information, and general remarks about company soldiers. Mss. 5374.

Referenced in Guides: Civil War, African Americans

Abstract of wages paid to teachers employed in city colored schools, Memphis, Tennessee, 1864 December. 1 item. Location: Misc:A. Abstract signed by T. A. Walker, captain, 63rd United States Colored Infantry, listing wages to teachers in African American schools in Memphis, Tennessee, administered by the Freedman's Department during the Union occupation. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3092.

Referenced in Guides: Civil War, Education, African Americans

Acadia Plantation records, 1809-2004 (bulk 1940-1979). 49 linear ft., 30 volumes, 8 rolls. Location: 93:7-30; J:4; 75:; MAP CAGE (UNNUMBERED CASE); 1 NORTH (ON TOP OF MICROFILM CABINET). A working sugar plantation, Acadia Plantation of Lafourche Parish, Louisiana is comprised of three major properties originally known as Acadia Plantation, St. Brigitte Plantation, and Evergreen Plantation. It was acquired in 1875 by Edward J. Gay, became the residence of Representative Andrew and Mrs. Anna Gay Price. Records are comprised of correspondence, financial and legal documents, printed items, volumes, maps, plats, and photographs. Papers document business and legal affairs of the plantation owners and operators, as well as plantation operations such as sugar cane farming, the crops of tenant farmers on the property, and the planning and development of the plantation lands throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Mss. 4906.

Ada C. Pollock-Blundon Association letter, 1929 Dec. 10. 1 item. Location: MISC:A. The Blundon School and Orphanage reportedly had its beginnings at the Wesley United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge. Signed by Gertrude Snell Brown thanking Mr. Edgar M. Hurlburt for his contribution to their organization. She reports on the number of children enrolled in the home and the seven day schools, as well as the work done on the new nursery. Mss. 4905.

Referenced in Guides: Education, Baton Rouge, African Americans

African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church Women's Home and Foreign Missionary Society. Certificate, 1934. 1 item. Location: OS:A. Woman's Home and Foreign Missionary Society was organized in 1896 at Montgomery, Ala. for the purpose of supporting work in overseas fields. Membership certificate for the Foreign Missionary Society. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4134.

Referenced in Guides: Religion, Women, African Americans

Aldrich, Ella V. (Ella Virginia), 1902-1982. Papers, 1921-1973. 22 items. Location: Misc. Ella V. Aldrich Schwing was a librarian at LSU, a member of the faculty of the LSU Library School, and a member of the LSU Board of Supervisors. The papers include material on the Colfax riot of 1873, an inscribed reprint of "Huey, Lyndon, and Southern Radicalism" by T. Harry Williams, a clipping of "The Legacy of Knute Heldner" from the Dixie Roto Magazine, and 15 photographic prints of plaques bearing Schwing's name on buildings at LSU System campuses. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3374.

Referenced in Guides: Women, New Orleans 1866-, African Americans, LSU

Alpha Kappa Alpha Scrapbook, ca. 1972. 1 item. Location. OS:A, Range 69. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority was the first Greek-letter organization established by African American college women. Scrapbook contains a history of the Sorority, social events and activities, poetry, and brief biographical sketches on current members of the LSUchapter, Eta Kappa. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4560.

Referenced in Guides: Women, African Americans, LSU

Alston, Solomon. Etate Document, 1809 April 27. 1 item. Location: C:61. Planter of West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana. Deed of manumission giving a female slave to Maria Ana Gray, niece of Solomon Alston. Conditions were outlined in Alston's will. In Spanish. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1209.

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

Anderson, Dupuy H. Papers, 1935-1996 (bulk 1958-1963). 0.3 linear ft. Location: W:97, OS:A. Baton Rouge dentist and civil rights activist. Collection consists of correspondence, photographs, political speeches, and printed items that relate to his personal and public life. Papers focus on his community service, candidacy for mayor-president of East Baton Rouge Parish, and his involvement in the integration of East Baton Rouge Parish public schools. Mss. 5114.

Referenced in Guides: Politics, Education, African Americans

Anderson, Henry. Letter, 1863. 1 item. Location: Misc.:A. Union soldier during the Civil War, probably from Indiana, stationed at New Madrid, Missouri. Letter to a friend expresses lack of interest in the cause of slavery and a personal revulsion to African AmericansFor further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1427.

Referenced in Guides: Civil War, African Americans

Anderson, John Q., Papers, 1848-1993 (bulk 1953-1973). 7.5 linear ft., 5 v. Location: X:119-125, OS:A, P:17. John Q. Anderson was a professor of English and a writer of Southern history and folklore. This collections of files, correspondence, printed material, and photographs reflect Anderson's career, current events; and they provide research material for his publications, particularly "Brokenburn: The Journal of Kate Stone, 1861-1868" and "Louisiana Swamp Doctor: The Life of Henry Clay Lewis". For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2156, 2162.

Anderson, Phoebe. Emancipation petition, 1849 Feb. 23. 1 petition. Location: Misc.:A. A petition filed in the Sixth District Court of the Parish of East Baton Rouge by Phoebe Anderson requests permission to emancipate her slave, Alexander. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3809.

Referenced in Guides: African Americans

Anonymous Civil War letter, [1863] October 4. 1 item. Location: Misc:A. Letter from a Southern woman who had lived in New York City prior to the Civil War compares the changes that have been made during the Civil War and in particular mentions sermons of abolitionist Dr. Henry Whitney Bellows. She also describes the problems encountered in passing through Fortress Monroe under a flag of truce. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2121.

Referenced in Guides: Women, Civil War, African Americans

Anonymous Confederate civilian letters, 1863 August 27-29. 2 items. Location: Misc:A Pages from a letter-diary of a plantation owner, possibly the wife of a Confederate soldier, recording daily activities, local news, plantation work, and slave health. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2997.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, Women, Civil War, African Americans

Anonymous daybooks, 1856-1858. 2 volumes. Location: F:2. Accounts of sales by a free person of color (probably Oscar Dubreuil) for a general merchandise store in Isle Brevelle, Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. In French. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 833.

Referenced in Guides: African Americans, French

Anonymous letter from Washington, D.C., 1852 July 15. 1 item. Location: Misc:A. Letter written in Washington, D.C., addressed to 'Dear Cousin,' refers to race relations as depicted in Uncle Tom's Cabin, Daniel Webster's performance, and Henry Clay's funeral. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3416.

Referenced in Guides: African Americans, Literature

Anonymous planter ledger, 1848-1849. 1 volume. Location: Misc:A. Plantation ledger, possibly kept by Abraham Lobdell, a West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana planter. Ledger records payments for services, goods, and taxes on land. Included are entries recording slave births and deaths, medical bills, gifts to the Protestant Episcopal Church, and goods sold to slaves on credit. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2905.

Anonymous political scrapbook, 1830-1860. 1 volume. Location: F:2. Political scrapbook contains newspaper clippings of letters written to several southern newspapers. They express opinions on politicians, political parties and issues, with a particular focus on slavery and abolition. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 223.

Referenced in Guides: Politics, African Americans

Anonymous record book, circa 1912-1926. 1 volume. Location: M:19. Vital statistics and military records together with comments on the condition, location, and extent of such records in several parishes in Louisiana. Included are lists of Louisiana African American soldiers in units of the United States Army during the Civil War. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1018.

Referenced in Guides: Civil War, African Americans

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.

Avet, Joseph. Document, 1848. 1 item. Location: Misc.:A. Slave bill of sale for a slave sold by Joseph Avet to Lucien Gex, New Orleans, March 27, 1848. In French. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 610.

Badin, Norbert. Papers, 1829-1937 (bulk 1870-1890). 2 linear ft. Location: U:97-98, OS:B, MICROFICHE 2729. Free African American planter from the Cane River settlement of Melrose, Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, an area that was home to a large community of freedmen. Personal and business papers document Badin's activities as a planter, and include family correspondence, a journal, an account book, and miscellaneous printed items. Some items in French and Spanish. Available on microfilm 6061: University Publications of America Records of Southern Plantations from Emancipation to the Great Migration, Series B, Part 2, Reel 1. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 825.

Referenced in Guides: Spanish, Plantations, African Americans, French

Badley Family papers, 1834-1940, undated (bulk 1845-1865). 0.3 linear feet. Location: W:2, OS:B, F:2. Badley family, plantation owners in Port Hudson and East Baton Rouge Parish. Personal papers and printed items document their plantations, landholding, and political and professional activities. Works Progress Administration manuscripts collection notes and botanical specimen books are also present. For further information see online catalog. Mss. 3062.

Baines, Henry. Papers, 1796-1905. 184 items. Location: C:55, 65:, MSS.MF:LESTER, GEORGE M. Planter of Bains, West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, and a member of London's Royal College of Surgeons. Baines was related to the McDermott and Maynard families. Collection contains papers and letters of the Baines, McDermott, and Maynard families related to the cotton trade, medical education, the Civil War, and financial dealings. Includes a Spanish land grant of West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana. Available (with some omissions) on microfilm 5735: University Publications of America Confederate Military Manuscripts Series B, Reel 1. Part of the George M. Lester Collection. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1209.

Baldwin, William H. Answer to cross bill, 1879 Nov. 15. 1 legal instrument. Location: Misc. William H. Baldwin of Franklin County, Miss., defendant to the cross bill of J.H. Darden, describes the previous ownership of land and slaves in his family. Mss. 4055.

Referenced in Guides: African Americans

Banes, Alexander. Alexander and Nannie I. Banes Family Papers, 1888-1990. 1.3 linear ft. Location: U:252, OS:B. African American family of Waco, Texas. Collection includes photographs, correspondence, writings, and legal and financial papers. Some materials document Nannie Bane's work as a teacher in North Texas. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4392.

Referenced in Guides: Women, Education, African Americans

Banks, Nathaniel Prentiss, 1816-1894. Letterpress copybook, 1863-1864. 1 vol. Location: B:12. Congressman, governor of Massachusetts, and general in command of the Union Gulf Department in the Civil War. Letterpress copybook of official letters written by Banks from his headquarters, Department of the Gulf, New Orleans, during fall 1863 and early winter 1864. Letters comment on civilian life in New Orleans, freed slaves, and the cotton trade. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2326.

Banks, Nathaniel Prentiss, 1816-1894. General order no. 105, 1864 Aug. 1. 1 item. Location: E:74. orders stipulate that all Black troops mustered into the U.S. Army will receive the same uniform, clothing, arms, rations, and other provisions alloted to other soldiers, and that Black volunteers will be granted the same amount of bounty as white volunteers. The order further decrees that Black soldiers who were free in 1861 and mustered into military service are entitled to any pay, bounty, and clothing allowed by law to free persons at the time of their enlistment. Part of the United States Army Collection. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3365.

Referenced in Guides: Civil War, African Americans

Banks, Nathaniel Prentiss,1816-1894. General orders, 1864 September 7. 1 printed item. Location: E:74. General Orders No. 122, issued by George B. Drake, Headquarters, Department of the Gulf, New Orleans, outlining wage schedules for white and black laborers and mechanics in army employment. Part of the United States Army Collection. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3032.

Barrow, Bennet H. Diary, 1833-1846. 1 volume. Location: Vault:9, W:24, Mss. Mf.:B. Cotton planter and owner of Highland Plantation in West Feliciana Parish, La. Diary reflects the management of Highland Plantation. Entries offer information on the cotton crop, weather conditions, personal activities, and treatment of slaves, specifically discipline and health care. Included are slave lists giving names and birth dates, and some financial records. Original volume housed in vault. Please use microfilm or typed transcription. Mss. 2978-2014.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, African Americans