Slavery in Baton Rouge

Slavery in Baton Rouge

A public history project by Louisiana State University students.

Once upon a time, Baton Rouge was at the heart of the wealthiest slave society on earth.

Today, that local history is largely forgotten – buried by the architects of Jim Crow, who believed that the protection of white power required the erasure of the past.

We are students at Louisiana State University. In 2021, we began digging deep into local archives, searching for lost histories of enslaved people in Baton Rouge.

Here are some of their stories.

Alphonse Arbour, Free Man of Color

By Ethan Lauvray

A formerly enslaved man’s quest for freedom, dignity and financial stability in antebellum Baton Rouge.

Twice Chained: Enslaved Women in the Louisiana State Penitentiary

By Maddie Tinsley

Discover the stories of enslaved women held within the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Baton Rouge.

The Former Plantations of LSU’s Campus

By Megan Buckley

Learn what lies beneath.

Buying and Selling our Neighbors

By Madeline Holmes

Read about the the slave trade in Baton Rouge.

Black Civil War Soldiers

By Aaron Jacobs

Read about the men from Baton Rouge who freed themselves.

Steamboats: Engines of Power and Resistance

By Philip O’Neill

Read about the Black Louisianans who escaped to freedom by way of the Mighty Mississippi.

Freeing Family in Baton Rouge

By Alison Foster

Read stories of free people of color in Baton Rouge who struggled to emancipate their husbands, wives and children.

Bennet Barrow’s Diary

By Jonathan Wingerter

Learn about slavery from the perspective of one of the region’s wealthiest slaveholders.

Slavery’s Influence on the Geography of Baton Rouge Today

By Thomas Waring

How does antebellum plantation slavery continue to shape the geography of Baton Rouge today?

Seeking Freedom in Baton Rouge

By Kristen St. Cyr

Learn about enslaved people who obtained their freedom, and the legal strategies they employed.

Slave Rebellions in Baton Rouge

By Chandler Couvillion

Learn about instances when the enslaved of Louisiana rose up in rebellion.

Narratives of Enslaved Women in Baton Rouge

By Juliette Fields

Learn about instances when the enslaved of Louisiana rose up in rebellion.

Slavery and Convict Slavery: Exploring the Connections

By Bri Barnes

Read about how slavery and convict labor grew intertwined in Baton Rouge.

After Emancipation: Freedpeople at the “McHatton Home Colony,” 1865-1872

By Manie Chemin

Learn about a refugee camp for freedpeople established on what would later become LSU’s campus.

The Black Codes

By Chandler Clegg

Learn about the laws of slavery that applied to people held as slaves in Baton Rouge.