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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Baze, Felix. Document, 1847. 1 item. Location: Misc.:B. Resident of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. Sale of slave by Felix Baze to Robert de St. Clair of St. Charles Parish, Louisiana. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 537.

Referenced in Guides: African Americans

Bedou, A. P. (Arthur P.), 1882-1966. Photograph of Dillard University, between 1935 and 1952. 1photograph; 8 x 39.5 in. Location: OS:B. Arthur P. Bedou was a black photographer in New Orleans during the early and middle 20th century. He was a photographer for Xavier University and Booker T. Washington. A panoramic photograph of Dillard University depicting Rosenwald Hall on the left and Kearney Hall in the center. The photograph was taken from Gentilly Boulevard shortly after the university was founded in 1930. It was taken after 1935, but before 1952 based on the buildings depicted in the photograph. Mss. 5142.

Referenced in Guides: Education, African Americans

Beekman, David. Letter, 1770. 1 letter. Location: MISC:B. Letter from David Beekman, a slave trader in St. Croix, to Christian and George Champlin, merchants in Newport.  He discusses the prices and high demand for slaves from the Gold Coast, as well as prices for agricultural products. Mss. 3630.

Referenced in Guides: African Americans

Belcher, Fred, 1913-, interviewee. 1 sound cassettes (1 hour), transcript (69 p.). Location: L:4700.0721. Fred and Helen Belcher are the son and daughter-in-law of Arthur and Corrie Belcher, founders of the Volunteers of America in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Interview describes the Salvation Army and Volunteers of America with a focus on the community programs and projects including prison ministry, work with the African American community, New Orleans maternity home, the role of VOA in adoptions, and Hanson's Disease Center at Carville, Louisiana. They also discuss the racial composition of South
16th St., role of religion in the VOA, 1920s automobiles, and the flood of 1927. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4700.0721.

Referenced in Guides: Women, Baton Rouge, African Americans, Medicine

Bell, Helena Jones, Letter, 1938 Jan. 28. 1 item. Location: Misc.:B. Southern civilian during the Civil War. Letter describes Union occupation, the loyalty of a former slave, Union soldiers killing a child, and harsh living conditions during and after the war. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4545.

Referenced in Guides: Women, Civil War, African Americans

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