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Examining the Evidence Activities

Examining Related Evidence: Bellegrove Plantation, Donaldsville, Louisiana, Built 1857.
This internet activity is based on the Examining the Evidence feature found on page 363 of The American Pageant, Thirteenth Edition. Or you can view the feature here.

This map of the Bellegrove plantation is very useful for helping historians understand the layout of a plantation. Its usefulness would be enhanced if the historian could visualize what the buildings on the map looked like. To investigate this further go to the Schomburg image collection at the New York Public Library website and examine the image "Pictures of the South - African-American Quarters on Jefferson Davis's Plantation" image located there.

Enter the site by clicking on the lower right-hand corner of the page; then select the category "Slavery" under the drop-down menu. Click on Image 29, "Pictures of the South—African-American Quarters on Jefferson Davis's Plantation", Bellegrove and Davis's plantation were both located near the Mississippi River and were probably not too far apart. Compare the image to the map.

  1. Identify a few similarities and differences between the layouts of Bellegrove and Davis's plantation?
  2. What are some possible purposes for the long building in the back of the image?
  3. Who is the person on horseback? Consider more than one possible answer.
  4. What clues can you find indicating something about the living conditions in the cabins?

    Now view a photo of a typical slave cabin at another plantation in Mississippi by going to the University of North Carolina's Documenting the American South website. This photograph is from Belle Kearney's memoir of growing up on a plantation in Mississippi.
  5. How does this image compare to the cabins in the image from the Davis plantation?
  6. Why does the cabin seem to be in disrepair?






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