Weekly Log, 9-19 to 10-3-09

Got a lot of work done these past two weeks, mostly at the Louisiana Collection, Jones Hall, at Tulane.

  • I read the two boxes of David Rees Family Papers in their entirety and took detailed notes. Rees migrated from the rural region near Lancaster, PA to New Orleans in 1804, eventually becoming a cotton planter in the Attackapas region, marrying a creole girl, and fathering thirteen children. His connections to the Louisiana economy, territorial politics, the War of 1812, the budding domestic slave trade, and the ongoing sagas of his siblings and his mother, all make for interesting reading.
  • I read two boxes (so far) of the John Minor Wisdom collection, mostly to do with New Orleans municipal issues and especially the batture controversy. I’m not sure I want to press much farther in this collection until after I’ve read the CDV records at the Public Library, since there may be some duplication of effort involved.
  • I modified my notes database so it can accommodate other manuscript collections, not just the Livingston Papers.
  • Speaking of the good old Livingston Papers, I transcribed a few more, but still have a solid couple days of work left to finish that up. I’m in the fascinating Peter Duponceau letters right now.
  • I read a number of Batture pamphlets, including Derbigny’s original defense of the public’s right to the Batture, Duponceau’s Reply, Livingston’s  Examination of the Title of the United States, and some of Thierry’s Right of the Public … Eventually I will have to have some systematic way of making notes on these things, and the easiest thing might be to just start writing a chapter that narrates the pamphlet wars on this issue.
  • Had a wonderful lunch with Larry Powell talking over any number of things and helping me formulate and solidify some of my protoplasmic ideas.
  • Attended Jennifer Spear’s event at Tulane, and started reading her book, Race, Sex, and Social Order in Early New Orleans.
  • Before I started reading manuscript stuff at Jones Hall, I read a few printed sources on the subject of land policy and land speculation in early Louisiana, including Harry Coles’ very useful 1956 dissertation History of the administration of Federal land policies and land tenure in Louisiana, 1803-1860, and the 1937 book-length Louisiana Historical Quarterly article by Jennie O’Kelly and Robert Dabney Calhoun entitled “The Marquis de Maison Rouge, the Baron de Bastrop, and Colonel Abraham Morhouse: Three Ouachita Valley Soldiers of Fortune. The Maison Rouge and Bastrop Spanish land “Grants.””
  • Also on the subject of the Ouachita lands, I read or skimmed a couple dissertations, and read and downloaded abstracts on a great many others.
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