Guide to the Savannah Port Papers, 1754-1920


This collection contains the official papers of the Port of Savannah, Georgia, in the Governmental Coastal District of Savannah. They are papers of ship clearance, cargo lists, Treasury Department letters and similar papers which deal with the customs operations at the port from 1820 to 1920. Although the papers mainly consist of cargo manifests, there are also letters, legal documents, literary pieces, and other miscellaneous items. Several of the items deal with slavery in Savannah and there are occasional mentions of piracy, smuggling, and general misdeeds among the seamen.

Descriptive Summary

Collection Number
Savannah Port papers
Port of Savannah (Ga.).
20.0 linear feet, 5,594 items
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Materials in English

Collection Overview

The official papers of the port of Savannah cover a myriad of topics, but are primarily comprised of documents pertaining to customs, import and export trade, and shipping. The general papers include ship clearance papers, cargo lists, crew lists, crew bonds, customs papers, salary receipts for port officials, and warehouse papers. The general correspondence includes letters from everyday port transactions and affairs, United States Treasury Department letters, and letters from the British consulate. There are papers concerning construction and maintenance of lighthouses, particularly the Tybee Island Lighthouse. These papers also include a number of legal documents, mostly bills of sale and deeds for land, livestock, sea vessels, and slaves. Other items include lists of seamen admitted to the Savannah poor house and hospital in the 1820s and 1830s, miscellaneous literary documents, and papers of the Savannah Port Society, a charitable organization to aid indigent seamen. Included also is a letter book, 1817-1826, of A. S. Bullock, collector of the port of Savannah, giving many references to economic conditions; a volume listing the persons who entered the port of Savannah, 1817-1818; and volumes containing lists of returns of goods on a number of ships, and inspectors' returns, 1830-1840. Items are arranged chronologically whenever possible.

Restrictions on Access & Use

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 48 business hours in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48-hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

warning Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Contents of the Collection

Subject Headings

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Savannah Port papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.


The Savannah Port Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library between 1939 and 1956.

Processing Information

Processed by: Janice Hansen, February 2015.