Guide to the James D. B. De Bow Papers, 1779-1915


Editor, publisher, statistician, and pro-secessionist residing in New Orleans, Louisiana. Collection comprises business and personal correspondence, diary, and other papers. Much of the material relates to "De Bow's Review," an agricultural and economic newspaper and pro-secession, pro-slavery publication which he founded and edited from 1846-1867, and to De Bow's position as agent for the Confederacy's cotton and produce loan, with many letters to and from Christopher G. Memminger and George A. Trenholm concerning details of the loan. Includes early items apparently collected in connection with De Bow's statistical work, essays written while a student at Charleston College, lectures on temperance, and a scrapbook of accounts of Civil War campaigns. Correspondents include John W. Daniel, Charles E. Fenner, George Fitzhugh, Charles Gayarré, Alexander D. Von Humboldt, Freeman Hunt, Edmund Ruffin, William Gilmore Simms, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Maunsel White.

Collection Details

Collection Number
James D. B. De Bow papers
De Bow, J. D. B. (James Dunwoody Brownson), 1820-1867
6.5 Linear Feet, Approx. 1,618 Items
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Material in English

Collection Overview

Business and personal papers of an editor and agricultural and commercial reformer, including copies of historical documents apparently collected by De Bow in connection with his statistical work for the state of Louisiana and the U.S. Census Bureau; a diary, 1836-1842; essays written while a student at College of Charleston, 1840-1843; two temperance lectures delivered during a tour of New England, 1844; letters from Maunsell White concerning White's backing of De Bow's Review; correspondence with the Review's agents and subscribers; the journal's bills and accounts; records, including correspondence with Christopher Gustavus Memminger and George Alfred Trenholm, relating to the Confederacy's cotton and produce loan; postwar letters concerning proposed railroads between the South and the West, especially the Tennessee and Pacific Railroad; letters to De Bow's wife, Martha E. (Johns) De Bow, from her girlhood friends and from De Bow; and De Bow's history of the Civil War, written for his children.

Other correspondents include Charles Gayarré, George Fitzhugh, Edmund Ruffin, William Gilmore Simms, Charles E. Penner, Freeman Hunt, John W. Daniel, Eugene F. Falconnet, Charles Frederick Holmes, John McRae, Oliver Otis Howard, Reverdy Johnson, Robert E. Barnwell, and William W. Boyce. The collection is rounded out by a one-volume scrapbook containing accounts of Civil War campaigns collected by De Bow.

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How to Cite

[Identification of item], James D. B. De Bow Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

Papers, 1779-1855, June 20
Box 1
Papers 1855, June 21-1860, July
Box 2
Papers 1860, August-1864, May
Box 3
Papers 1864, June-1915
Box 4
Papers, undated
Box 5
Box 5
Box 6-7
Civil War scrapbook
Volume F:895

Historical Note

Southern publisher, statistician, and agricultural reformer residing in New Orleans. De Bow founded his agricultural and economic magazine, De Bow's Review, in 1846, and served as its editor until his death in 1867 of peritonitis. He was also head of the U.S. Census from 1853-1857, and president of the proposed Tennessee-Pacific Railroad, a project which he never lived to see accomplished. Arguing for Southern agricultural reform to build up Southern independence from the Northern States, De Bow became a strong influence for the pro-slavery, pro-secession movement in the 1850s and 1860s.

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The James D. B. De Bow Papers were acquired by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library from 1935-1949.

Processing Information

Processed by Rubenstein Library staff, September 2011

Encoded by Matthew Warren and Paula Jeannet, April 2012

Accession(s) described in this finding aid: 35-708 and all subsequent additions.