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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Brooks Read Brer Rabbit Collection, 1950-1991 (bulk: 1950-1959). Ca. 29 linear feet. Approximately 500 reel to reel audio recordings, scripts, phonographs, correspondence, and subject files of Brooks Read, Baton Rouge storyteller, journalist, and political observer. Materials relate to Read's recorded productions of his original Brer Rabbit stories, as well as a few select Uncle Remus stories of Joel Chandler Harris. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4476.

Brown, James. Papers, 1764-1811 (bulk 1804-1811). 0.25 linear ft. Location: U:20, F:9, OS:B. Attorney in New Orleans who became secretary of Louisiana (1804), U.S. attorney for the Orleans District (1805), U.S. senator from Louisiana (1813-1817, 1819-1823), and minister to France (1823-1829). Collection consists of legal and business papers and correspondence of James Brown. Legal and business papers include documents recording sales of slaves and legal disputes. Most of the letters are from William N. Brown and General James Wilkinson. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 44.

Brown, Reddin. Papers, 1835-1838. 5 items. Location: OS:B. Resident of East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. Papers pertain to the mortgage of land and slaves, and include a land conveyance, an appraiser's certificate, and other legal documents. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 668.

Referenced in Guides: Baton Rouge, African Americans

Browning, Orville Hickman, 1806-1881. Speech, 1862 March 10. 1 printed item. Location:E:Imprints. U.S. Senator from Illinois. Speech delivered before the United States Senate during debate on a bill to confiscate Confederate property and slaves discusses various implications of the bill. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2918.

Referenced in Guides: Politics, Civil War, African Americans

Browning, Samuel R. Letter, 1849 September 4. 1 item. Location: Misc:B. Letter to A. W. Boyd in North Carolina concerning slave- and horse-trading in Louisiana. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4197.

Referenced in Guides: African Americans

Bryan, James. Document, 1822. 1 item. Location: MISC:B. Resident of Feliciana Parish, Louisiana. Inventory of Bryan's property and slaves. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 668.

Referenced in Guides: African Americans

Buck, Pearl S., 1892-. Letters, 1968. 2 items. Location: Misc.:B. American writer and philanthropist. Letters to a correspondent in India commenting on the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy; the Black Power demonstration by U.S. athletes at the Mexican Olympic Games; and racial problems in the United States. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2473, 2475.

Referenced in Guides: Politics, Women, African Americans, Literature

Buck-Ellis Family Papers, 1812, 1826-2000. 14 linear ft and 27 volumes. Location: 16:1-14, OS:B, J:27, Vault 1. Family of educators, lawyers, and public officials. Of Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana. Ellis family papers (1812, 1826-1987) are comprised almost entirely of personal correspondence relating to daily activities, politics, health, religion, employment, military service, education and travel of five generations. Other material includes financial papers, legal documents, speeches and lectures related to the study of law, printed items, account books, diaries, inventories, family scrapbook and minute books of United Daughters of the Confederacy, Blue Cross Chapter. The Carroll and Martina Ellis Buck papers (1922-2000) consist primarily of personal correspondence from family and friends, but include some professional correspondence, primarily from his legal and public career. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4820.

Bunt, Edward C. Letter, 1851 Nov. 29. 1 letter. Location: Misc. Edward C. Bunt in Franklin, La., writes Greene D. Moore in Oakland, Yalobusha County, Miss., regarding the case of Lott et al vs. Jenkins et al, a two-year-long lawsuit involving ownership of slaves, upcoming in the District Court of Vermilion Parish. Mss. 3907.

Referenced in Guides: African Americans

Burden, Andrew. Document, 1859, Dec. 5. 1 item. Location: Misc.:B. Agreement signed in Lawrence County, Alabama, swearing not to trade with a slave without the owner's permission and not to allow gambling. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 3365.

Referenced in Guides: African Americans