Describing Plantations, Estates, Farms, and Comparable Entities as Corporate Bodies

Describing Plantations, Estates, Farms and Comparable Entities as Corporate Bodies in SNAC

Updated: August 17, 2020

This proposal serves to solidify a SNAC policy and practice for establishing and describing names of plantations, farms, ranches and the like, as corporate body entities. N.B.: This approach does not align with current practice at the Library of Congress, where the policy is to establish plantations as geographic place names in the LC subject file. An example from the Library of Congress Subject Headings would be Boone Hall Plantation (S.C.)

The justification for describing plantation names as corporate body entities:

  • Plantations were more than a geographic location
  • Plantations, as corporate entities, were more than just the houses/landmarks
  • Plantations were essentially family businesses, and establishing headings for them as corporate bodies recognizes that, and recognizes that in such a way as to allow relationships between it and other entities (i.e., those enslaved there, and those who enslaved people there) to be demonstrated

Guidelines for Constructing Plantation Name Headings

  • The heading will contain the name and location of the plantation, with the broader geographical term (i.e., the state in which it is located) being sufficient, e.g.,
    • Buffaloe (Plantation : Va.)
    • Quitzni (Plantation : N.C.)
  • “Plantation” is not included in the name unless specifically indicated that it was part of the name. “Plantation” should be included as a qualifier at the end of the heading, e.g.,
    • Dulac (Plantation : La.)
  • In order to avoid conflicts with other named geographic entities, a more specific location can be used, e.g.,
    • Saratoga (Plantation : Buckingham County, Va.)
    • Yeopim (Plantation : Perquimans County, N.C.)
  • Unnamed plantations will be given the name of the family that owns it, e.g.,
    • Comer Family Plantation (Ala.)
  • Plantations without clear locations
    • Plantation heading including name of a prominent family member

Plantation Name Examples

  • Plantation House (Chowan County, N.C.)
  • Rosewell (Plantation : Va.)
  • Wyche Farm (Plantation : N.C.)
  • Magnolia Plantation (Natchitoches Parish, La.)
  • Magnolia (Plantation : Tyrrell County, N.C.)
  • Gente Place (Plantation : La.)
  • Silk Hope Plantation (S.C.)
  • King Hill (Ranch : Tex.)

Subdivisions of Plantations

It was common practice for plantations to have named subdivisions. This was particularly likely for very large plantations where slaves were divided and often housed at sites and in work areas. This could occur formally or informally.  These subdivisions can be important clues to uniquely identify enslaved people with the same name on a plantation.

The names usually geographic terms or other descriptive wording: i.e. Southfield, Northfield, Slave Quarters, Negro Quarters, Landing, Row, Mill, name subdivisions of a plantation.

Following the logic of a plantation as a corporate body, these names should be constructed to follow the naming conventions of a corporate subdivision.

Plantation Name Subdivision Examples

  • Monticello (Va.). Mulberry Row
  • Mount Vernon (Estate : Va.). Muddy Hole Farm
  • Whitney Plantation (Wallace, La.). Slave Quarters
  • Poplar Forest (Plantation : Va.). Tomahawk Creek