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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Bass-Farrar Family Papers, 1827-1918 (bulk: 1829-1843, 1858-1867) 0.5 linear ft. Location: OS:B, R:41, VAULT:4. Papers of the Bass, Farrar, and Richardson families from Tensas Parish, La. and vicinity. Includes material on family matters, personal and professional activities, maintenance and overseeing of cotton plantations before and after the Civil War, life along the Mississippi River, life in Civil War Louisiana, and slavery. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4907.

Batchelor, Albert A. (Albert Agrippa). Papers, 1852-1930 (bulk 1870-1900). 27 linear ft., 41 volumes. Location: S:143-170, J:13, 98:B, OS:B. Personal and business papers, correspondence, diaries, and account books pertain principally to local events, and the operation and management of several plantations in Pointe Coupee Parish, including Bella Vista Plantation, Lakeside Plantation, Phoenix Plantation, Highland Plantation, and Normandy Plantation. Early letters among Batchelor family members describe conditions at the Kentucky Military Institute and the Silliman Female Collegiate Institute, and mention events such as slave insurrections and military operations. Several letters describe Civil War battles, including the 1862 Battle of Kernstown and the 1863 battles of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville. Available on microfilm 5735 and 6061: Records of southern plantations from emancipation to the Great Migration, Series B, Selections from Louisiana State University, pt. 5, Louisiana sugar plantations, reels 1-15; Confederate Military Manuscripts, Series B, Holdings of Louisiana State University, reels 1-2. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 919.

Baton Rouge census document, 1782. 1 item [photocopy]. Location: Misc.:B. Census of the District of Baton Rouge lists names of heads of families, free African Americans, and slave population; their professions; number of dwellings; production of indigo, tobacco, rice, corn, and lumber; and the number of militiamen. In French. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2514.

Referenced in Guides: Baton Rouge, African Americans, French

Baton Rouge Civil War images, 1863. 3 items. Location: E:73. Three images (cartes-de-visite) taken in Baton Rouge during the Civil War: an African-American male in a wagon pulled by mules; a military encampment (possibly Pikes Hall); and a tree-lined street (Garrison Lane). The first is by McPherson and Oliver, and the other two are probably their work as well. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3272.

Referenced in Guides: Civil War, Baton Rouge, African Americans

Baton Rouge Council on Human Relations. Records, 1965-2000. 1.5 linear feet. Location: W:123-124. Minutes, newsletters, newspaper clippings, correspondence, and committee records document the activities and concerns of the Baton Rouge Council on Human Relations, a non-profit civic organization created in 1965 that promoted racial desegregation and better race relations by counteracting prejudice and discrimination based on religion or ethnicity. Concerned specifically with the Baton Rouge community. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4813.

Referenced in Guides: Baton Rouge, African Americans

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