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Objects from the Collection

a display in a store

Oak Alley Foundation’s Collection reflects the site’s history, constructed over decades and lifetimes. Focused on interpreting the ante- and post-bellum mansion and its contents, it cares for a wide variety of objects, research material and ephemera.

A large portion of the Collection is composed of Mrs. Josephine Stewart’s decorative arts, literature and photographs. Some of the objects, such as her tea set, reflect her personality and hospitality as Oak Alley’s last private resident. Others, such as her images of the plantation, show the adaptations she made as she renovated the former sugar plantation.

The Collection also preserves a large number of archaeological artifacts. Antebellum bricks, Postbellum pottery pieces and other miscellaneous fragments give us a slim but invaluable glimpse into life on this sugar plantation and what it was like for both free and enslaved residents. It is this collection that inspired the Artifact Room, a new component of the mansion exhibit.

While not all objects are publicly displayed, their lessons and insight into Oak Alley’s heritage is nonetheless shared through our Historical Interpreters. As our mission states, we exist, “for the instruction, education, enlightenment, information, edification and cultural benefit of the citizens of the State of Louisiana, the United States and the public generally.” We are open to information requests from both students and researchers as we aim to share the History of Oak Alley, recognizing its unique place in the greater culture of Louisiana.

a painting of a person

Ambrotype- André Bienvenu Roman

Often signing his name as “A.B. Roman”, Andre Bienvenu Roman, was born March 27, 1795 to Jacques Etienne and Louise Patin Roman in St. Landry Parish.  He was the ninth child in a sequence of thirteen and brother of Jacques Telesphore Roman.  On July 20, 1816, at the…

a person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera

Ambrotype- Françoisé Aimée Parent Roman

Francoise Amiee Parent was born in New Orleans in 1797.  She married Andre Bienvenue ROman on July 200, 1816 in Saint James Parish, Louisiana in a duel wedding ceremony with her brother, Charles Parent who married Andre’s sister, Edwige Roman.  Andre & Francoise had five children, three boys and two girls…

a table topped with a cut in half on a plate

André Bienvenu Roman China

Composed of one hundred and forty-three (143) pieces, this set is very near complete. As was common during the time, the set was made in France then shipped to New Orleans where it was hand painted with the cornflower pattern before being sold.  Many…

a vintage photo of a person holding a book

Carte de Visites

The carte de visite, or CdV, was one of the first wildly popular and exploitable forms of photography. Finding its origins in early calling cards, the CdV had several attributes that lead to its prominence. First, the size was universal which allowed international trading and…


Certificate of Appointment- Administer to the University of Louisiana

The certificate seen here signed by Governor Samuel McEnery and Secretary William Strong declared and empowered Eli Farault de LaVillebeuvre to fulfill the duties of office for the position of Administrator to the University of Louisiana. LaVillebeuvre held this office…

text, letter

Coorespondence: Personal and Official

This object contains two calling cards, two letters, and an envelope. The first letter is written from Jeanne R. LaVillebeuvre to her mother, Francoise Aimee Parent Roman. It is informal and very typical of what one would expect to see exchanged between a mother and daughter, family gossip. Despite…

a statue in front of a mirror posing for the camera

Crab Rattle Shackle

American slavery was an institution that dehumanized Africans and their descendants. Those enslaved often sought to take back their freedom. However, should their attempt at freedom fail and they were caught, they were returned to their owner or resold, now labeled a “maroon” or “runaway”. Such slaves were put in restraints…

a painting of a person

Daguerreotype- Eli Farault de LaVillebeuvre

Eli Farault de LaVillebeuvre was born the second child of five on October 29, 1829 to Jean Ursin de LaVillebevure and Elisabeth Chariclee Jourdain. Similar to the Roman family, the de LaVillebeuvres were also extensive, wealthy, and socially prominent. Unlike many of their social class, however, they…

a painting on the wall

Daguerreotype- Jeanne Aimée Roman de LaVillebeuvre

Jeanne Aimée Roman was born May 25, 1818 to Governor André Bienvenu Roman and Françoise Aimée Parent. In 1852, Jeanne married Eli Farault de LaVillebeuve, son of another wealthy and prominent family. The daguerreotype that we study here has a matching twin showcasing…


Death Announcement- Jeanne Aimée Roman de LaVillebeuvre

The obituary that is seen here was clipped from a local newspaper and is a bit short but still includes all of this information. Written after the death of Jeanne Roman Lavillebeuvre, her obituary mentions, by name, her parents (Gov. A.B. Roman and Aimee Parent)….


Death Notice- Alfred Roman

The announcement described here was a printed display that was meant to be posted in various locations. Very simple and direct in its motives, the document reads:

Roman. | Died Tuesday morning, September 20th, 1892, at 4:30 o’clock, aged 68 years. | Alfred Roman, Son of …


Death Notice- Eli Farault de LaVillebeuvre

Death announcements and obituaries in the 19thcentury varied greatly. Often over the top flowery in speech and description, obituaries were a place that marked in great detail a person’s life story. Often adding details about their childhood, who their families were, where they attended school, what…

text, letter

Death Notice- Jean Ursin de LaVillebeuvre

The announcement described here was a printed display that was meant to be posted in various locations. Very simple and direct in its motives, the document reads:

Décédé Samedi 9 Avril 1881 à 6 heures P.M. Jean Ursin de La Villebeuvre, à l’âge de 79 ans. | Les parents et amis des familles

a cat sitting on top of a wooden cabinet

Doll’s Armoire

This doll’s armoire is a perfect example of the luxury experienced by planter families in the early 19th century. Standing as a miniature of what her parent’s would have owned, Jeanne’s toy is composed of a Rosewood base construction, topped by a Rosewood veneer that is then inlayed with boxwood details. To enhance this toy even more…

an old photo of a book

Half Stereograph- Cabanocey Plantation

This stereograph, although only half of its original form, depicts the Cabanocey Plantation of Governor André Bienvenu Roman once located in Vacherie, Louisiana. Cloaked in both historical accuracy and myth, the concept of Cabanocey has taken many forms since…

a close up of a bottle

Khayamiya Panels

The word Khayamiya, an art form found in Cairo, Egypt, is derived from the Arabic term khyam (tent) and is used to describe the Egyptian tentmaker appliqué. Khedival references the khedival period of 1867 to 1914 and helps to clarify the type of khayamiya in question. The khedival khayamiya origins can be traced back to the Ottoman turks but in this reference…

text, letter

Last Will & Testament- Nanette Fortin

Born into slavery, Nanette spent the majority of her life being responsible for the personal effects of her owners, however, this is not how she died.  Before her death, Nanette had two paper based documents created that would lead future generations to many different observations. Among those two items, which are both …

an old photo of a person

Lithographic Print- Nannette Fortin

Born into slavery, Nanette Fortin died a free woman. The reasons for taking the “Fortin” name, leaving her former owners as beneficiaries, and crossing so many family lines are vast to say the least. Whether out of necessity or choice, this artwork and her last will and testament are, in fact, testaments to how Nanette viewed herself as both a woman and human….

Marriage Invitation Plate

Though the art of printmaking is composed of many different processes, here we see one of the more basic approaches, an engraving. After a copper plate was etched with a design, the artist would apply a thin layer of ink to the plate. Any excess ink was wiped away leaving ink only inside of the…

Pocket Surgical Kit

Wars require medical attention in the field, a statement so obvious it rarely needs stating. This statement in regards to the American Civil War typically elicits a cringe when paired with the knowledge that medical technology of the time was only so good…or should that say bad?…

a clock on the wall

Our Lady of Guadeloupe

This well-known image depicts Our Lady of Guadeloupe, a specific version of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The story follows Juan Diego, a simple, Mexican farmer. Early morning on December 9, 1531, as he made his way home from mass, Juan was greeted by a vision of the Blessed Mother and…

text, letter

Roman Family Tombstone

On April 11, 1848, Jacques Telesphore Roman, first owner of Oak Alley Plantation, died. His body was laid to rest in a family tomb just up river from his plantation in the St. James Catholic Cemetery.  His wife survived him by an additional eighteen years, during which time she relocated his body to a new family tomb located in St. Louis Cemetery Number…

a close up of a bowl

Roman Silverware

Jacques Telesphore Roman was born March 22,1800 to a wealthy and substantial family of fifteen. The youngest of his twelve siblings, Jacques was expected, and did, become a sugarcane planter, the ruling social class of his time. With brothers holding various positions helping to control the political (gubernatorial seats)…

text, letter

Tomb Inscriptions

Written in blue ink and pencil on lined paper, this item shows a list of tomb inscriptions for one family, three generations, and eight people. The accession number includes two pages written mostly by one person with a final inscription added by a subsequent individual for a child who…