Date of Award

1989

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Geography and Anthropology

First Advisor

Sam B. Hilliard

Abstract

Studies of foodstuff self-sufficiency in the antebellum South have shown that during the middle third of the nineteenth century, as represented by the census years 1840, 1850 and 1860, certain regions of Louisiana suffered from meat production deficits. It has been assumed by most interested scholars that these deficits were overcome by importing pork and beef from the midwest or Upper South. Other possible sources of meat supplements that have not been generally considered are the wild game and fishery resources of the state. Hunting and fishing have long traditions as important activities in the South in general and in Louisiana as both subsistence and social activities. While the importance of these activities to general subsistence in the pioneer and frontier periods has been accepted, their continued use as food sources through the nineteenth century has generally been ignored. Archival collections and the contemporary literature show that a very wide variety of wild game and fishery resources were taken in Louisiana and neighboring regions of adjacent states. As the population and agricultural activities in Louisiana increased during the time period in question, the numbers and distributions of some game birds and animals were dramatically affected. Some increased in number while others were driven to or over the edge of extinction in the state. Analysis of available data was conducted on estimated nineteenth century population numbers, range acreages, and carrying capacities, in conjunction with edible meat production ratios, for wild game and fishery resources. The results of these analyses show that a reliance on these as food sources could have made up all or substantial percentages of the projected meat deficits for the middle third of the century. While imports from other regions might not have been totally eliminated, locally available food sources could have substantially limited the size and importance of such imports.

Pages

437

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