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 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