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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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