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Guide to the Savannah Port Papers, 1754-1920

Abstract

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

Title
Savannah Port papers
Creator
Port of Savannah (Ga.).
Extent
20.0 linear feet, 5,594 items
Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Location
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Language
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.

Administrative Information

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

General Port Papers, 1754-1918

This series consists of the official papers of the Port of Savannah, Georgia. It mainly contains ship clearance papers, cargo lists, and other documents that were a part of customs operations at the time. The documents date from 1754 to 1918, but the bulk of the items are from the early to mid-1800s.The manifests detail cargo entering and leaving the port. The Returns of Seamen papers list the crews shipping on the vessels. There are also import customs papers, which detail the customs due on each item. The Warehouse Withdrawal papers are permits to withdraw stored items from warhouses. Importers were allowed to place liquors and otherarticles in bonded warehouses until sold and then pay the duty as they withdrew them from the houses. Also included are lists of ship stores. The crew bonds are bonds binding vessel masters to return to port with the same crews with which they ship out, unless some be discharged in foreign ports with permission of the U.S. Consul in that port. There are also salary receipts of the various United States officials necessary to administer the work of the District of Savannah, and receipts and disbursement accounts of various sorts for the Port of Savannah, District of Savannah.

Of these papers, by far the largest part are manifests, either of a part of the cargo or of the whole cargo. The next largest groups include Returns of Seamen and Import Custom papers, and the other items are in much smaller proportions.

Several interesting observations arise from a study of this collection. One of these concerns the chief items of export from Savannah during the years of this set. The one item which composed the largest part of the export trade was up-land, or short-staple colton. Most of this went to Liverpool, and the return cargoes consisted largely of iron, steel, and manufactured goods.There was some Sea Island Cotton to export, but not nearly so much of it as of the upland. Two or three manifests, one in 1851, show that often ships came down from Boston and New England with cargoes of ice. The 1851 manifest shows a cargo of 124 tons of ice from Boston to Savannah. Most of the other cargoes from New England consisted mainly of food.Two other items occur often in the export manifests from Savannah. One is rice. This commodity formed a part of many cargoes, and quite a few times was the whole cargo. The other item was lumber, notably pine, in the form of boards and shingles. Much of this went to Liverpool, and much of it to Barbados, Havana, and other island ports, but, interestingly enough, a considerable quantity was sent North to New England ports. Much wine was imported from Madeira and then exported again to European ports, notably Liverpool. The main European ports receiving Savannah exports were Liverpool and Havre.

Items are arranged chronologically. There are several boxes of oversized documents also arranged chronologically.

General Papers, 1754-1809
Box 1
General Papers, 1800-1822

Oversize.

Box 26
General Papers, 1810-1811
(3.0 folders)
Box 1
General Papers, 1812-1815
(3.0 folders)
Box 1
General Papers, 1816-1819
(3.0 folders)
Box 1
General Papers, 1820 Jan-June
(2.0 folders)
Box 2
General Papers, 1820 July-1822
(2.0 folders)
Box 2
General Papers, 1823-1827

Oversize.

Box 26
General Papers, 1823-1826
(2.0 folders)
Box 2
General Papers, 1827
Box 2
General Papers, 1828

Oversize.

Box 26
General Papers, 1828
Box 2
General Papers, 1829 Jan-Mar

Oversize.

Box 25
General Papers, 1829 Apr-May

Oversize.

Box 25
General Papers, 1829 June-Aug

Oversize.

Box 25
General Papers, 1829 Sept-Oct

Oversize.

Box 25
General Papers, 1829 Jan-Mar
Box 2
General Papers, 1829 Apr-May
Box 3
General Papers, 1829 June-Aug
Box 3
General Papers, 1829 Sept-Oct
Box 3
General Papers, 1829 Nov-Dec
Box 3
General Papers, 1830 Jan-Mar

Oversize.

Box 25
General Papers, 1830 Apr-July

Oversize.

Box 25
General Papers, 1830 Aug-Nov

Oversize.

Box 25
General Papers, 1830 Dec-Mar

Oversize.

Box 25
General Papers, 1830 Jan-Mar
Box 3
General Papers, 1830 Apr-July
Box 3
General Papers, 1830 Aug-Nov
Box 3
General Papers, 1830 Dec-1831 Mar
Box 4
General Papers, 1831 Apr-Dec

Oversize.

Box 24
General Papers, 1831 Apr-Dec
Box 4
General Papers, 1832

Oversize.

Box 24
General Papers, 1832 Jan-May
Box 4
General Papers, 1832 June-Nov.
Box 4
General Papers, 1832 Dec
Box 4
General Papers, 1833

Oversize.

Box 24
General Papers, 1833 Jan-June
(2.0 folders)
Box 5
General Papers, 1833 July-Dec
Box 5
General Papers, 1834

Oversize.

Box 24
General Papers, 1834 Jan
Box 5
General Papers, 1834 Feb-Mar
(2.0 folders)
Box 5
General Papers, 1834 Apr 1-15
Box 6
General Papers, 1834 Apr 16-22
Box 6
General Papers, 1834 Apr 23-30
Box 6
General Papers, 1834 May
(2.0 folders)
Box 6
General Papers, 1834 June
Box 6
General Papers, 1834 July
Box 7
General Papers, 1834 Aug-Dec
(2.0 folders)
Box 7
General Papers, 1835

Oversize.

Box 24
General Papers, 1835 Jan-May
Box 7
General Papers, 1835 June-Nov

Includes three documents from November and December of 1835 pertaining to the brig Ann Maria and its cargo. Thirty-three slaves are listed alongside sea stores and cargo. The documents are from the Port of Alexandria and the Port of Savannah.

Box 7
General Papers, 1835 Dec
(2.0 folders)
Box 8
General Papers, 1836-1837

Oversize.

Box 24
General Papers, 1836 Jan-Feb
Box 8
General Papers, 1836 Mar-Nov
(2.0 folders)
Box 8
General Papers, 1836 Dec
Box 8
General Papers, 1837
(2.0 folders)
Box 9
General Papers, 1838-1842

Oversize.

Box 24
General Papers, 1838 Jan-Feb
Box 9
General Papers, 1838 Mar
Box 9
General Papers, 1838 Apr
Box 9
General Papers, 1838 May-June
Box 10
General Papers, 1838 Oct-Dec
Box 10
General Papers, 1839 Jan-July
Box 10
General Papers, 1839 Aug-Dec
Box 10
General Papers, 1840 Jan-Mar
Box 11
General Papers, 1840 April
(2.0 folders)
Box 11
General Papers, 1840 May-Nov
Box 11
General Papers, 1841
Box 11
General Papers, 1842
Box 12
General Papers, 1843
Box 12
General Papers, 1843-1846

Oversize.

Box 24
General Papers, 1844 Jan-June
Box 12
General Papers, 1844 July-Dec
Box 12
General Papers, 1845-1846
Box 13
General Papers, 1847 Jan
Box 13
General Papers, 1847 Feb-Dec
Box 13
General Papers, 1847-1849

Oversize.

Box 23
General Papers, 1848-1849
Box 13
General Papers, 1850

Oversize.

Box 23
General Papers, 1850 Jan-July
(2.0 folders)
Box 13
General Papers, 1850 Aug-Dec
Box 13
General Papers, 1851

Oversize.

Box 23
General Papers, 1851 Jan-Apr
Box 14
General Papers, 1851 May-Dec
Box 14
General Papers, 1852-1853

Oversize.

Box 23
General Papers, 1852-1853 Mar
Box 14
General Papers, 1853 Apr-June
Box 14
General Papers, 1853 July-Dec
Box 14
General Papers, 1854

Oversize.

Box 23
General Papers, 1854 Jan
Box 14
General Papers, 1854 Feb-Dec
Box 15
General Papers, 1855

Oversize.

Box 23
General Papers, 1855 Jan-Mar
Box 15
General Papers, 1855 Apr
Box 15
General Papers, 1855 May
Box 15
General Papers, 1855 June-Sept
Box 15
General Papers, 1855 Oct-Dec
Box 15
General Papers, 1856

Oversize.

Box 22
General Papers, 1856 Jan-Feb
Box 15
General Papers, 1856 Feb-Mar
Box 16
General Papers, 1856 Apr-June
Box 16
General Papers, 1856 July-Sept
Box 16
General Papers, 1856 Oct-Dec
Box 16
General Papers, 1857

Oversize.

Box 22
General Papers, 1857
Box 16
General Papers, 1858

Oversize.

Box 22
General Papers, 1858 Jan
Box 16
General Papers, 1858 Feb-May
Box 16
General Papers, 1858 July-Dec
Box 17
General Papers, 1859
(2.0 folders)

Oversize.

Box 22
General Papers, 1859 Jan-June
Box 17
General Papers, 1859 July-Sept
Box 17
General Papers, 1859 Oct
Box 17
General Papers, 1859 Nov
Box 17
General Papers, 1859 Dec
Box 17
General Papers, 1859
General Papers, 1860

Oversize.

Box 21
General Papers, 1860 Jan
Box 18
General Papers, 1860 Feb
Box 18
General Papers, 1860 Mar-Aug
Box 18
General Papers, 1860 Sept-Oct
Box 18
General Papers, 1860 Nov-Dec
Box 18
General Papers, 1861

Oversize.

Box 21
General Papers, 1861 Jan-Feb
Box 18
General Papers, 1861 Mar 5-15
Box 18
General Papers, 1861 Mar 16-Dec
Box 19
General Papers, 1863-1865
Box 19
General Papers, 1866

Oversize.

Box 21
General Papers, 1866 Jan-Sept
Box 19
General Papers, 1866 Oct-Dec
Box 19
General Papers, 1867-1918

Oversize.

Box 21
General Papers, 1867
Box 19
General Papers, 1868
Box 19
General Papers, 1869 Jan-Mar
Box 19
General Papers, 1869 Apr-Dec
Box 19
General Papers, 1870-1900
Box 20
General Papers, 1901-1918
Box 20
General Papers, undated
(2.0 folders)
Box 20
Legal Documents
Bills of Sale - Livestock, 1837-1842
Box 27
Bills of Sale - Slaves, 1822-1831
(2.0 folders)
Box 27
Box 26
Bills of Sale - Land, 1814-1859
(2.0 folders)
Box 27
Box 26
Bills of Sale - Sea Vessels, 1829-1858
Box 27
Miscellaneous Legal Documents, 1824-1865

Various fragments, copies of ordinances and other items that are legal in nature.

Box 27
General Correspondence, 1820-1883, undated
(3.0 folders)

The correspondence contains various letters to and from the British Consulate in the Port of Savannah, as well as correspondence regarding the day-to-day operations of the port. Also among the letters are many requests for information on British citizens presumed dead and thought to have settled in Savannah. These letters are generally seeking for portions of inheritances. The letters to the British consulate often request financial aid or travel back to Britain. Among these letters of the British consulate is a note from Jefferson Davis, allowing a British subject to travel freely without threat of conscription (January 2, 1865).

Particular letters of interest include the following:

1) A letter dated December 12, 1819 that includes details on the prosecution of certain prisoners who were part of the crew of the piratical ship Louisa and were charged with piracy and murder.

2) A letter dated March 10, 1820 with a complaint about port fees.

3) A letter dated October 27, 1843 detailing a complaint against the master of a particular ship and his theft of broadcloths and linens. This was not his first act of impropriety and the author of the letter urges the port to recognize him as a "shameless smuggler."

4) A letter dated February 2, 1853 urging its recipient that "by sending the negroes to Charleston they would bring a higher price."

Savannah Port Society Papers, 1901-1920, undated
(2.0 folders)

The papers of the Savannah Port Society, a charitable organization to aid indigent seamen.

Box 20
Volumes
A.S. Bullock Letterbook, 1817-1826

Letterbook of A. S. Bullock, collector of the port of Savannah at least from 1817 to 1822, containing copies of routine letters relative to the port of Savannah. The routine letters, however, contain considerable information. Among them are accounts of pirate ships, smuggling of slaves, escape of slaves in ships, burning of the customs house at Savannah, Tybee Light House and its equipment, and other related matters. Frequently Bullock's letters request information on legal matters from the district attorney. A few letters at the end of the volume were written by N.A. Olmstead, Deputy collector.

Box 28
Inspectors Returns, 1830-1840
Box 29
Cargo Returns Ledger, 1817-1824
Box 29
Protection, 1817-1818
Box 29
Miscellaneous Documents
Literary Documents, 1828-1859, undated

Contains handwritten poetry, the Song of the Charleston Light Dragoons at their 24th Anniversary Supper, and other miscellaneous literary items.

Box 27
Account of Certificates Issued for Distilled Spirits, Wines, and Teas, 1827

Unbound.

Box 27
Poor House Hospital Documents

Documents pertaining to the medical care of seamen.

Box 27
Tybee Lighthouse Papers

Contracts, letters, bills, receipts, proposals, etc., that deal with the upkeep of the Tybee Lighthouse.

Box 27
Oversize-folder 1
Miscellaneous

Fragments and unidentified items.

Box 27

Subject Headings

Preferred Citation

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

Provenance

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.