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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Gaines, Myra Clark, 1805-1885. Letter, 1867 February 6. 3 items. Location: Misc.: G. Daughter of New Orleans merchant Daniel Clark and party to litigation involving Clark's estate. Letter from Washington, D.C., to special legal commissioner Caleb Cushing pertains to preparation of her cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Included is an unrelated court summons (1842) and a bill of sale for land and a slave (1843). For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2637.

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

Galbrith, T. I. Papers, 1879-1888. 4 items [photostats]. Location: Misc. Justice of the peace for the 3rd Ward of East Carroll Parish, Louisiana. Letters to Galbrith from P. B. Pinchback, pertaining to African American employment (1879); a document signed by Governor Samuel D. McEnery, appointing Galbrith justice of the peace; and an oath signed by Galbrith. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 778.

Referenced in Guides: Politics, African Americans

Gale, James. Document, 1811. 1 item [copy]. Location: Misc. Resident of the Mississippi Territory. Bill of sale for a slave sold to Charles de Blanc of Attakapas Parish, La., signed by Seth Lewis. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 152.

Referenced in Guides: African Americans

Gamble, Harry Pollard, Sr. Papers, 1875-1987, undated (bulk 1954-1972). 2.5 linear feet. Location: 40:. Public affairs and personal correspondence, printed items, and written materials of Harry Pollard Gamble of New Orleans, Louisiana, political figure, secretary of the Louisiana Conservation Commission, and founder of the American Society for the Preservation of State Government and Racial Integrity (ASPSGRI). Materials primarily relate to conservation of natural resources, ASPSGRI, and his efforts in the fight to uphold segregation in Louisiana. Personal papers present are his completed and partial works of history and historical fiction (especially related to the Cane River area), family and business correspondence, including his son's World War II letters, and materials related to Gamble's football career at Louisiana State University. For additional information see online catalog. Mss. 4054.

Gardiner, John I. Papers, 1839-1918 (bulk 1839-1877). 43 items (on 1 reel of microfilm and 4 photographic prints). Location: Mss.Mf:G, Misc:G. Cotton planter of Grand Coteau, St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. He was appointed as tax collector of that parish in 1873. Earliest documents include family letters from Maryland, receipts for the burial of slaves, bank drafts, and tax receipts. Included is a Confederate tax estimate and assessment of agricultural products (1863) and Gardiner's appointment as tax collector. Reconstruction broadsides include an announcement concerning special taxes upon all professionals, trades, and stores, letters concerning Governor William Pitt Kellogg, and an address to African American voters. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2206.

Referenced in Guides: Politics, Civil War, African Americans

Gardner, H. M. Letter, 1846 May 17. 1 letter. Location: MISC:G. Resident of Nantucket, Massachusetts. H. M. (Hannah Maria) Gardner, in Nantucket, writes to her uncle John B. Macy, in New York City, and discusses family news, the fortunes of whaling ships, and views on slavery. Mss. 4098.

Referenced in Guides: Women, Business, African Americans

Gardner, Joel. Papers, 1978-2021 (bulk 1980-1985). 3.5 linear ft. Location: G:86-87. Joel Gardner is a journalist and oral historian from Louisiana. Contains assorted oral histories, grant proposals, workshop materials, recordings from participants, entertainment articles written by Gardner for lifestyle magazines, assorted scholarly articles written on oral histories, and theory-related materials. Mss. 3954, 3562.

Garig, William Wallace and Family. Papers, 1855-1959, undated (bulk 1900-1953). 1.75 linear ft., 10 manuscript volumes. Location: 7:58-60, OS:G. Confederate veteran and poultry breeder of Baton Rouge, La. Papers pertain chiefly to W. W. Garig's animal husbandry work and social life and the teaching careers and social lives of his daughters Mercedes and Louise Garig. Materials include correspondence, writings, financial documents, photographic items, printed materials, scrapbooks, and diaries (including W. W. Garig's Civil War diaries). Mss. 2993

Garnier, John and Lubin. Papers, 1820-1859, undated 371 items. Location: U:121. New Orleans commission merchants. Papers consists of legal papers; correspondence; miscellaneous receipts; miscellaneous accounts of Lubin Garnier and Mme. de La Roche of Bordeaux, France; and accounts relative to the inheritance of Benjamin Poydras of Pointe Coupee Parish, La. Business letters comprise correspondence. Legal papers document the sale of a slave by Charles Louis Garnier to Pierre Michel (Jan. 13, 1829); sheriff's sale of Charles P. Fonterman's property in New Orleans (Feb. 4, 1831); notarial acts, consular acts, contracts and powers of attorney. In French. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 155, 752.

Garrison, William Lloyd, 1805-1879. Correspondence, 1861, 1876, 1879. 9 items. Location: MISC.:G. Massachusetts abolitionist. Letter (1861) in support of the abolitionist cause; four letters offering condolences on the death of Garrison's wife (1876); and one letter to a son (1879) offering condolences on the death of Garrison, with newspaper obituaries. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1350.

Referenced in Guides: Civil War, African Americans

Gasparin, Agenor de, 1810-1871. Letters. 1862-1871. 57 items. Location: U:100. French statesman, philanthropist, and writer on religion and abolition. Letters to the American translator of his books discussing the American editions and commenting on American politics, Abraham Lincoln, abolition, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. In French. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1350.

Gay, Edward J. and family. Papers, 1797-1938 (bulk 1838-1910). 62 linear ft., 165 volumes. Location: H:25-27, OS:G, VAULT:1, VAULT:33, VAULT:40, Y:1-62, Y:81. Planters of St. Louis Plantation near Plaquemine, Iberville Parish, Louisiana. Edward J. Gay was a U.S. representative (1884-1889); his grandson of the same name was a U.S. senator (1918-1921). Personal and business papers of the Gay and related families, containing materials on the Civil War and Reconstruction, St. Louis Plantation, the sugar cane industry, slavery. Also includes Representative Gay's congressional papers. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1295.

Gay, Edward J., III. Congressional file, 1888-1921. 18 linear ft. Location: Y:62-80, OS:G, Vault:1. Comprised of official congressional files that document the political career of U.S. Senator Edward James Gay III. Files consist of correspondence, legal documents, and printed material pertaining to political campaigns, state and national elections, political patronage, legislative bills, Dept. of Agriculture, construction of levees by the Mississippi River Commission, and the participation in elections and political support of African-Americans. Legislative correspondence discusses pending bills concerning pensions, tariffs, health of rural populations, the creation of the Department of Education, and the transportation, storage and marketing of livestock. Files also contain selected subject materials relative to the American Legion bonus (1920), cotton, sugar, League of Nations (1919-1920), the United States Post Office, railroads, women's suffrage, and U. S. military academies. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1295.

Gay-Butler-Plater family. Papers, 1814-2016. 30.5 linear ft., 25 volumes. Location: G:43-85, OS:G, Q:1-6. Planters of Iberville, Lafourche, and Terrebonne parishes, Louisiana. Correspondence, financial records, legal records, photographic materials, and personal papers created and accumulated by the Gay, Butler, Plater, and Price families of Louisiana documenting their political, social, and financial affairs. Mss. 4872.

Gayoso de Lemos, Manuel. Papers, 1792-1799. 41 items, 1 microfilm reel. Location: Vault:7, MSS.MF:G. Spanish governor of the Natchez District (1792-1797). Major Stephen Minor was a planter of Natchez, Mississippi. Letters of Manuel Gayoso de Lemos to Major Stephen Minor concerning general administrative issues and personal matters in the closing years of Spanish rule of the Natchez District. Includes a document by Gayoso titled 'Instructions for my commission to the Chocta Nation' (1792) and a proclamation calling for the reestablishment of peace at Natchez (1797). Partly in Spanish. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 157, 859, 1673, 3099.

George J. Wainwright & Co. Letter, 1839. 1 item. Location: MISC:G. Letter written from Liverpool, England, discussing West Indies sugar trade, working conditions of African-Americans in Jamaica, and international trade. Letter is written on conjugate leaf of the LIVERPOOL PRICES CURRENT (April 19, 1839). For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3676

Referenced in Guides: Sugar, Business, African Americans

Gerbeau, Joseph. Papers, 1817-1837. 5 items. Location: Misc., OS:G. Resident of St. Mary Parish, Louisiana. Papers pertain to the mortgage of land and slaves. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 668.

Referenced in Guides: African Americans

Gianelloni, Sabin J., Sr. Family Papers, 1780-1997, undated. 7.25 linear ft., 79 v. Location: UU:316-321, 328-329; J;20-21; OS:G. Sugar planter of East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. Papers consist of correspondence, business papers, personal papers, and printed items relating to the Gianelloni family, the operation of Longwood Plantation, sugar and cane syrup industries, and federal regulations affecting these industries. The correspondence also discusses the political and economic environments in Louisiana and Cuba. Printed items include photographs of field hands and the Longwood Plantation store. For further information, see the online catalog. Mss. 3458, 4279.

Gilbert, T. B., Sr. Letter, 1894 November 10. 1 item [photocopy]. Location: Misc.:G Letter to J. L. Matthews discusses strategy used in engineering a victory for Democrat Charles Boatner in the 1891 congressional race, claiming that success was due to the registration of African Americans. Boatner ran successfully against Populist/Republican Alexis Benoist. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3107.

Referenced in Guides: Politics, African Americans

Gillespie, James A. and family. Papers, 1776-1929 (bulk 1840-1890). 1,530 items, 20 volumes. Location: E:22-24, E:118, G:16, 65:G, OS:G Vault:38. Planter of Hollywood Plantation, Adams County, Mississippi, and Indian Village Plantation, Concordia Parish, Louisiana. Collection includes plantation records, business papers, and correspondence of the Gillespie family and business papers of the Davis family. Papers include slave sales, land deeds, a will, diaries, portraits, maps, sheet music, and fashion publications. Includes some printed items in German. Available (with some omissions) on microfilm 6061: University Publications of America Records of Southern Plantations from Emancipation to the Great Migration, Series B, Part 4, Reels 5-8, or Records of Ante-Bellum Southern Plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War, Series I, Part 3, Reels 13-14. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 669, 695, 1104, 2086.

Gillie & Co. Receipt, 1845. 1 item. Location: Misc:G. Receipt to Gillie & Co. for labor in a New Orleans chain gang performed by a slave named William. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4660.

Referenced in Guides: New Orleans to 1861, African Americans

Golsan Brothers. Papers, 1845-1876 (bulk 1866-1876). 15,645 items, 102 volumes. Location: UU:199-210, G:8-10, OS:G. New Orleans cotton factors and agents for the DuBois cotton gin, doing business with merchants, and commission firms in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, Tennessee, and Texas. Business papers of Golsan Brothers consisting chiefly of bills and receipts for merchandise, printing, and advertising; waybills; invoices for cotton purchased; bank checks; trial balance sheets; telegrams; statements of account; and correspondence. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 501.

Good Hope Plantation: Papers, 1864-1867 (bulk 1865). .5 linear ft. (100 items). Location: U:145. Papers indicate that George Gilson Klapp of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and James D. Waters leased Tyconia Plantation in Concordia Parish, Louisiana, in 1864. Klapp and Waters jointly leased Good Hope and Hermitage plantations during 1865 and 1866. Papers focus largely on the operation and management of Good Hope and Hermitage cotton plantations in Concordia Parish, Louisiana. Legal papers include a plantation lease agreement, mule loans, an arms permit, and labor agreements with freedmen. Financial papers include promissory notes; receipts for goods, services, and taxes; and accounts of merchandise purchased by laborers. Available on microfilm 6061: University Publications of America Records of Southern Plantations from Emancipation to the Great Migration, Series B, Part 2, Reel 11. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 161.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, African Americans

Goodridge, L. W. Letter, 1862 Feb. 1. 1 item. Location: Misc.:G. Letter written by L. W. Goodridge to Gideon Wells, U.S. Secretary of the Navy, concerns the Direct Tax bill before the U.S. Congress, and its financial impact. The letter also discusses the abolitionists' political tactics in London and mentions John Slidell and James Mason traveling to Paris. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3666.

Referenced in Guides: Politics, African Americans

Goree, Thomas Jewett, 1835-1905. Papers, 1829-1896 (bulk 1857-1896). 83 items, 1 vol. Location: A:4, H:16. Confederate captain and aide-de-camp to General James Longstreet during the Civil War. Collection consists of photographic copies and a bound typescript of correspondence. Goree's Civil War letters are written from Longstreet's headquarters in Virginia and are addressed to friends and family members in Texas. A copy of a diary kept by Goree describes a journey from Appomattox Court House, Virginia, to Talladega, Alabama, in the company of James Longstreet, Longstreet's son Garland, and a African American servant. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 886.

Referenced in Guides: Civil War, African Americans

Grahame, John. Oath, 1831 May 24. 1 item. Location: Misc.:G. Oath taken by John Grahame, and sworn before the Justice of the Peace of Frederick County, Maryland, stating that Juliana Gant, a mulatto, was a free born woman. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3666.

Referenced in Guides: Women, African Americans

Greater Baton Rouge postcard album, circa 1930-1939. 1 album. Location: E:65. An album of color picture postcards and a few photographs of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, buildings and landmarks, as well as business cards and letterheads of Baton Rouge businesses. Some postcards depict African-American life in the rural South. Mss. 4978.

Referenced in Guides: Business, Baton Rouge, African Americans

Green, Emile. Papers, 1909-1930. 3 items. Location: Misc. Emile Green of Opelousas, La., was an African-American local preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church. These papers consist of a certificate renewing Green's local preacher's license (1909), Green's report to a Lake Charles District conference enumerating sermons preached and visits made (1918), and a letter from a relative in Angola, La. (1930). Mss. 3961.

Referenced in Guides: Religion, African Americans

Grisham-Kellogg-Faust family. Papers, 1860-2009 (bulk 1899-1976). 8.5 linear ft. Locations: U:321-329, OS:G, H:12, AA:, 65:. Papers consist of correspondence, photographs, personal papers and printed material. Material reflects the social activities, family life, travel and the genealogy of the Grisham-Kellogg-Faust family of Louisiana and Bolivar, Tenn. Included in the correspondence are World War I letters discussing logging in France, letters of college students, and picture postcards of plantations in Natchez, Miss. and Louisiana. Photographs include African American household employees, 1927 Mississippi River Flood, and portraits of Gov. Sam Jones, Gov. John McKeithen and Senator Russell Long. Mss. 5048.

Guess, George W. Letters, 1861-1865. 1 volume containing 45 items [photocopies]. Location: M:19. Confederate officer, prisoner of war in New Orleans. Photocopies of letters concern Civil War battles, the movements of Federal troops, health of his regiment, superior officers, Confederate currency, attitudes towards slaves, civilians, and Governor Allen's emancipation proclamation in Louisiana. Letters (1864-1865) from Alexandria and Shreveport concern his court-martial and imprisonment. There is also a manuscript copy of the 'Obligation taken by the Knights of the Golden Circle,' a secret political society. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 793.

Guild, John H. Letters, 1862-1864. 11 items. Location: Misc.:G. Union soldier in the Civil War. Letters to Guild's family written from Ship Island, New Orleans, and elsewhere in Louisiana discuss camp life, the Mississippi River campaign, the Battle of Port Hudson, and the performance of African American soldiers. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3204.

Guillory, Claude. Slave bill of sale 1783. 1 item. Location: Misc. Resident of Opelousas Parish, Louisiana. Sale of slave (in French) by Claude Guillory of the Opelousas District to Jacques Michel and Jacques Gomez. In French. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 756.

Referenced in Guides: African Americans, French

Gunby, A. A. (Andrew Augustus), 1849-1917. Papers, 1864-1973 (bulk 1849-1917). 152 items; 15 vols. (4 ms. vols., 11 printed vols.). Location: UU:215-216, O:17, 98:G, OS:G. Monroe lawyer, Louisiana Appeals Court judge (1881-1892), orator, poet, author, educator, and politician. Gunby founded the Louisiana Chautauqua and was active in the 1892 anti-lottery campaign. Collection includes Gunby's manuscript poetry, prose, speeches, papers, and photographs. Published writings deal with the education of African Americans and racial conflicts in the South. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3266.

Gurley, John W. Papers, 1858-1866. 81 items. Location: U:145. Attorney of New Orleans. Gurley and his wife Rosa were registered as enemies of the United States during the Civil War but were excused after they signed oaths of amnesty. The majority of letters are from Edward G. Stewart, a planter of Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana. Papers of the Civil War period include claims the Gurleys were enemies of the United States, their oaths of allegiance, and letters confirming their loyalty. Available on microfilm 6061: University Publications of America Confederate Military Manuscripts Series B Reel 6 and Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations Series I, Part 2, Reel 13. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 507.

Haile, Christopher Mason, Letter, 1838. 1 item. Location: OS:M. Four-page folio letter from Haile to fellow West Point cadet M.S. Culbertson about Haile's stay at Paul Hebert's Bayou Goulas Plantation (La.). Haile also discusses his stay at Dunboyne Plantation, owned by relatives of George Washington, and his interactions with the host families and their servant staffs. The letter is unstamped and dated February 18, 1838. For further information see online catalog. Mss. 5000.

Referenced in Guides: Plantations, African Americans

Hamilton, John R. Papers, 1863-1865. 0.6 linear ft. Location: X:34, OS:H. U.S. Naval officer during the Civil War. Naval records documenting Civil War operations of the USS Commodore as it patrolled the navigable waterways of Louisiana in order to prevent the South from trading with other countries. Records consist of reports, correspondence, orders, and lists of seamen and Naval officers. Papers also contain some records of the USS Vincennes. Mss. 5066.

Hamilton, William S. Papers, 1780-1930 (bulk 1807-1861). 3 linear ft., 14 manuscript volumes, 16 microfilm reels. Locations: T:81-87, H:21, OS:H, MSS.MF:H. United States Army officer under General Wade Hampton; slave owner and planter of Holly Grove Plantation, West Feliciana Parish; and politician who served on the first board of trustees for the College of Louisiana and a term in the Louisiana Legislature. While most papers pertain to William S. Hamilton's social, political, and professional life, some papers also pertain to John Hamilton (William S.'s father) and the children of William S. and Eliza C. Hamilton. Papers reflect the administration of United States Army troops in the Territory of Orleans and Mississippi and give an inclusive picture of national and Louisiana politics. Included are descriptions of Southern college facilities and curricula and early medical treatments in hydropathy (hydrotherapy). The papers also document conditions in the United States Army during the Mexican War, land speculation in Texas, and various aspects of plantation life and economy (including purchasing and treatment of slaves). Part of the George M. Lester Collection. Mss. 1209.

Hamilton, William Sutherland. Papers, 1766-1879, 1942. .5 linear ft. Locations: UU:148, OS:H. United States Army officer; slave owner and planter of Holly Grove Plantation, West Feliciana Parish; and politician who served on the first board of trustees for the College of Louisiana and a term in the Louisiana Legislature. Papers consist chiefly of letters received and written by William S. Hamilton but also other Hamilton family members, including John Hamilton and Eliza C. Hamilton, and other friends and relatives. In addition to documenting family news and communications, correspondence reflects aspects of plantation economy; health problems and diseases, including yellow fever; medical treatments; conditions in the United States Army during and after the War of 1812; and the political and economic situation in Texas (1840-1844). Mss. 3167.

Hampton, Wade, 1818-1902. Letter, 1867 August 13. 1 item. Location: Misc. Confederate general during the Civil War. Letter to a friend pertains to a speech he has written and explains his attitude toward the extension of political and civil rights to African Americans. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2844.

Referenced in Guides: Politics, African Americans

Hancock Club. Hancock Club Campaign Ribbon, 1868. 1 Campaign Ribbon. Location: MISC:H, VAULT:1. The St. James Parish Hancock Club was similar to the Knights of the White Camellia and the Ku Klux Klan. The club's primary concern in 1868 was creating a winning Democratic ticket. The central club location was in New Orleans and it was formed in 1868. This is a campaign ribbon for the Horatio Seymour and Frank L. Blair Democratic presidential election ticket of 1868. The Hancock Club of St. James Parish printed the campaign ribbon. Mss. 5137.

Referenced in Guides: African Americans