New World Agriculture & Plantation Labor

  • Moulin à presser la canne à sucre

    "Mill for Pressing Sugar Cane" (caption translation). This engraving shows enslaved people feeding sugar cane into the rollers of a water-powered mill (on the left) and a cattle mill with vertical rollers (on the right). Pierre Jacques Benoit (1782-1854) was a Belgian artist, who visited the Dutch colony of Suriname on his own initiative for several months in 1831. He stayed in Paramaribo, but visited plantations, maroon communities and indigenous villages inland.
  • Vista de una vega de tabaco

    "View of a Tobacco Meadow" (caption translation). This lithograph shows a tobacco plantation with enslaved people working in the field, a horse-mounted overseer and a thatched roof on a rectangular house in the background. Frédéric Mialhe (1810-c. 1861), also Federico Mialhe, was a French landscape painter and draughtsman. He went to Cuba on by invitation of the Real Sociedad Patriótica. He designed three sets of lithographs from 1838 to 1854. The publisher, Bernardo May, claimed ownership of this image and sold them under his own name. For a discussion on the image see Emilio Cueto, Mialhe's Colonial Cuba (Miami: The Historical Association of Southern Florida, 1994).
  • Vista de una casa de calderas

    "View of a Sugar Boiling House" (caption translation). This lithograph shows enslaved people boiling sugar in large cauldron with white people being served drinks by an enslaved person. Sugar pots are on table, which were used for draining the molasses. Frédéric Mialhe (1810-c. 1861), also Federico Mialhe, was a French landscape painter and draughtsman. He went to Cuba on by invitation of the Real Sociedad Patriótica. He designed three sets of lithographs from 1838 to 1854. The publisher, Bernardo May, claimed ownership of this image and sold them under his own name. For a discussion on the image see Emilio Cueto, Mialhe's Colonial Cuba (Miami: The Historical Association of Southern Florida, 1994). See image LOC-CUBA.
  • Indigo Production, French West Indies, 1667

    Titled Indigoterie, this picture shows various phases of the cultivation and processing of indigo as well as illustrating other plants and trees. Captions underneath are linked to numbers in the illustration, and these are sometimes cross-referenced to pages where more details are given. Equipment and procedures used in indigo are shown (6, 7, 8, 9, 13, 14). Also depicted are plants (1, 4, 12 [indigo]) and trees (2, 5); the dye plant annatto (rocou) is being crushed in a mortar (3). Enslaved males and females are depicted, as well as a European overseer. Other versions of this illustration can be found in: Jean-Baptiste Labat, Nouveau Voyage aux Isles de l'Amerique (Paris, 1722, vol. 1, between pp. 168 and 169; also Paris, 1742, vol.1, following p. 268 [see image JCB_35892-10 on this website], and Pierre Pomet, A complete history of drugs (London, 1748, 4th ed.); see image Pomet-92 on this website.
  • Tobacco and Manioc/Cassava Preparation, French West Indies, 1667

    Titled Ménagerie, the engraving illustrates the yard of a large farm or plantation, showing various steps in the processing of tobacco and manioc with enslaved men and women performing the tasks. The captions underneath are linked to numbers on the engraving. Tobacco is depicted with its 1) storage shed, and processing the leaf by 2) stripping, 3) twisting or rolling, and 4) hanging it to dry. The manioc plant is 5) scraped, 6) grated by a hand powered mill (7 shows the old method of grating), and 8) pressed in the device shown here; 9) depicts the flour being sifted and 10) cooked or baked into cassava bread, and 13) the bread drying. Also shown are 12) the kitchen, 14) the sugar apple tree (custard apple, sour sop, etc.) [ corassole on the image and corosol in the text], and, in the center background 11) the master's house.
  • Tobacco Planters and Slaves, Barbados, 17th cent.

    Copper plate engraving, titled Engelse Quakers en Tabak Planters aende Barbados [English Quakers and Tobacco Planters in Barbados],shows European woman and man, slaves carrying goods on heads, houses and shipping in background. This print is apparently based upon an earlier engraving depicting New Amsterdam in which the foreground figures have been retained but the background has been altered. However, this engraving is not a realistic portrayal of the Barbadian landscape. The Library of Congress tentatively dates its copy of Allard at 1698 and the British Library at 1680. There are colored copies of the, print dating from a later period. For details on this print and various versions of it, see Stokes and Haskell, American Historical Prints (New York, 1932), p. 9; also, I. N. Stokes, Iconography of Manhattan (1915, vol. 1, pp. 140-42), C. E. LeGear, A List of Geographical Atlases in the Library of Congress (Washington, D.C. 1958), vol. 5, pp. 5-6. Whatever the year of publication, during the mid-to-late 17th century, Barbados had a relatively large Quaker community which included many slaveholders; before the island's sugar revolution in the mid-17th cent. tobacco was an important cash crop. (A black/white photograph of this print was given to Handler by Mr. George Hunte of Barbados in 1968. Hunte had purchased an undated colored copy from the London bookseller, Francis Edwards.)
  • Tobacco Label, 18th cent.

    English tobacco label, includes depictions of blacks and whites smoking long-stemmed pipes.
  • Cultivating Tobacco, Virginia, 1798

    Drawing in pen, ink, and watercolor, titled An Overseer Doing his Duty. A white overseer supervises two enslaved females working in a tobacco field with long-handled hoes. This scene was sketched from life near Fredericksburg, 13 March 1798.
  • Harvesting Coffee, Brazil, 1830s

    Slave men and women picking coffee, being supervised by whites. For an analysis of Rugendas' drawings, as these were informed by his anti-slavery views, see Robert W. Slenes, African Abrahams, Lucretias and Men of Sorrows: Allegory and Allusion in the Brazilian Anti-slavery Lithographs (1827-1835) of Johann Moritz Rugendas (Slavery & Abolition, vol. 23 [2002], pp. 147-168).
  • Sugar Mill, French West Indies, ca. 1700

    Cross section of horse-drawn sugar mill (Comble de Moulin), with vertical rollers, showing major parts indicated by letters, e.g., N, bras de moulin (arms of the mill); O, chevaux qui tirent le moulin (horses that pull the mill). A very similar image, perhaps based on the drawing in Labat, is found in Denis Diderot, Encyclopédie, ou, Dictionnaire Raisonné des Sciences, des Arts et des Metiers . . . Recueil de Planches, sur les Sciences . . . (Paris, 1762), vol. 1, plate 2, fig. 1; details on the illustration are given in the section treating agriculture. The same illustration published in Labat was later published in Philippe Fermin, Nieuwe Algemeene Beschryving van de Colonie van Suriname (Harlingen, 1770), vol. 2., where it is identified as a mill in Suriname.
  • Sugar Works, French West Indies, 1667

    Although labeled, Sucrerie (sugar works), this image shows more than activities associated with sugar making. The numbers on the image are identified in the legend underneath. Central to the scene is the sugar works, including the ox-drawn mill with vertical rollers (1), the furnace and boilers in which the sugar juice (coming down the gutter from the mill) is boiled (2), and the formes, that is, the conical sugar pots, usually earthenware, in which the raw sugar was placed for for draining. Enslaved laborers are depicted carrying canes to the mill and feeding it in the rollers. Also shown are various trees (6 [the coconut], 7, 11), plants (5 [sugar cane],8, 9), where vinegar is made (4), the huts of the enslaved (10).
  • Sugar Works and Plantation, Pernambuco, Brazil, ca. 1640

    This colored image is based on a plate inserted into an unidentified volume (perhaps Joan Blaeu's 1662, Atlas maior), without title page, in the John Carter Brown Library. Captioned, Prefecturae Paranambucae pars Borealis, this inset from a map of Brazil shows sugar works and various plantation buildings, and slaves engaged in various tasks of sugar manufacture. The image was first published by Joan Blaeu in Caspar van Baerle's Rerum per octennium . . . Historia (1647). Also published in Joan Blaeu, Atlas maior, . . Cosmographia Blaviana (Amsterdam, 1662). Compare with image blaeu04a on this website, which has an additional scene in the center of a group of slaves carrying a planter's wife (?) in a hammoc; also, image NW0062-a, showing only sugar works and plantation buildings. (Thanks to Blanche Ebeling-Koning, of the JCB, for her assistance in describing this item).
  • Sugar Production, Brazil, 1682

    Caption: Brasilise Suykerwerken; shows vertical roller mills, water (left), cattle (upper center). Boiling house (lower right).
  • Picking Cotton, U.S. South, 1873-74

    Men and women in the field; baskets loaded with picked cotton. Although post-emancipation, this scene evokes the period of slavery as well. Published earlier in Edward King, The Great South . . . profusely illustrated from original sketches by J. Wells Champney (Hartford, Conn., 1875), p. 307.
  • George Washington with Slave Laborers

    Oil painting titled, George Washington as a Farmer. An imagined scene depicting G.W. surrounded by slaves working in a field. Starting in 1849, Stearns (1810-1885) produced several paintings in his life of Washington series; some of these were published as lithographs in New York in 1853-54 (information courtesy of K. D. Daly and B. O'Leary, VMFA).
  • Picking Cotton, U.S. South, 1850s

    Men and women in the field. Illustrates article (pp. 447 ff.) cotton and its cultivation, by T.B. Thorpe of Louisiana.
  • Carrying Cotton to the Gin, U.S. South, 1850s

    With slave cabins in the background, shows men and women carrying baskets of picked cotton to the gin. Illustrates an article (pp. 447 ff.) cotton and its cultivation, by T.B. Thorpe of Louisiana.
  • Hauling Cotton Bales, U.S. South, 1850s

    Carter with loaded ox cart taking bales of cotton to river port. Illustrates article (pp. 447 ff.) cotton and its cultivation, by T.B. Thorpe of Louisiana.
  • Ginning Cotton, U.S. South, 1850s

    Men and women at work. Illustrates an article (pp. 447 ff.) cotton and its cultivation, by T.B. Thorpe of Louisiana.
  • Planting Rice, U.S. South, 1859

    Gang of men and women preparing the ground and sowing seeds. Just before planting [during middle to end of March] the ground is first chopped or broken rudely, and then mashed, or more carefully and nicely prepared for the seed. On old and well-cleared plantations this work is sometimes done with the plow and the harrow, but more generally . . . with the hoe only (Richards, p. 726).
  • Rice Harvesting, U.S. South, 1859

    Men and women in a rice field; man in foreground with sickle in his hand. With the sickle in hand--the only instrument in use--the beautiful grain falls, and is laid in handfuls upon the stubble to dry. The reaper usually . . . takes a sweep of three rows at a time, cutting down to within a foot of the ground (Richards, p. 729).
  • Rice Threshing, U.S. South, 1866

    Gang of men and women at work; plantation house in background.
  • Tobacco Production, Richmond, Virginia, 1870s

    Caption: Stringing the Primings; shows a woman removing the lowest leaves of the tobacco plant (the primings), helped by small children; a boy in the background hangs the leaves out to dry. Although this scene is from the post-emancipation period, it can serve to illustrate earlier years. See King for description of tobacco trade in the Richmond (p. 632 ff.).
  • Tobacco Factory, Virginia. 1870s

    Men, women, and children at work. The Scribner's illustration identifies this tobacco warehouse as being near Liberty Hill, a community in Bedford County; however, King (p. 557) identifies the scene as Lynchburg where tobacco is the main article of . . . trade. Buyers from all parts of the Union crowd the streets; the warehouses are daily visited by throngs.
  • Unloading Rice Barges, South Carolina, 1870s

    Men and women at work carrying bundles of rice. We wandered over perhaps 700 acres . . . . The men and women at work in the different sections were under the control of field-masters. . . . The women were dressed in gay colors, with handkerchiefs . . . around their temples. Their feet were bare . . . . Most of them, while staggering out through the marshes with forty or fifty pounds of rice stalks on their heads . . . indulged in a running fire of invective against the field-master. . . .The 'trunk-minders', the watchmen . . . promenaded briskly; the flat-boats, on which field hands deposited their huge bundles of rice stalks, were poled up to the mill, where the grain was threshed and separated from the straw, winnowed, and carried in baskets to the schooners which transported it to Charleston... (King, p. 435). The Scribner's article notes that the rice mill was located near the wharf between Morris island and Sullivan island so that the rice-schooners had easy access to the mill.
Advanced search