World Sugar History Newsletter

Number 23, December 1996

In this issue:

  1. Reviews
  2. Recent Publications
  3. Sugar Beet
  4. Archives
  5. Sugar Arts

This version of the World Sugar History Newsletter, Number 23, December 1996, has been edited for the purpose of on-line display. The contents remain complete.


Michael G. Wage, Sugar Dynasty: M. A. Patout and Sons Ltd. 1791-1993 (Lafayette, LA: Center for Louisiana Studies, University of Southwestern Louisiana, 1995). Pp. xv + 405. $29.95 (cloth). ISBN 0-940984-96-2.

This study is a testimony to and a detailed narrative of the enterprise of the Patout family of South Louisiana from colonial times to the present. It is also an intricate history of Enterprise -- their sugar plantation -- and its development as the oldest (and largest) continuously-operating, family-owned sugar plantation in the U.S. The study is the first to examine the entire life span of a Louisiana sugar plantation. While the work’s central focus charts the family over multiple generations and its business fortunes through various cycles, this is also local history of place, people, politics, and, above all, familial persistence within one of North America's most distinct agricultural locales.

Wade recounts the history in ten chronologically-ordered chapters of roughly equal length. The story begins in revolutionary France just northeast of Paris. Pierre Siméon Patout, the founder of the Patout plantation, was born into a family of peasant proprietors and viticulturists in 1791. As a small farmer and vintner with Bonapartist sympathies, Patout apparently found the 1820s increasingly uncongenial. In 1829 he set sail with his family for Louisiana, a new land still sympathetic to French culture and citizens. After a short stay in New Orleans, the Patouts made their way to St. Mary Parish, in a region of coastal marsh, riverine swamps, and prairies intersected with bayous. Prime fluvial frontage had already been claimed and improved. The Patouts moved out onto one of the prairie fingers. While Siméon quickly acquired slaves and set himself up as a merchant, he did not begin to plant cane on a significant scale until the 1840s. Still, he was hardly a monoculturalist as he oversaw a diversified plantation and even imported grapes for wine making. Siméon Patout died in the yellow fever epidemic of 1847.

Siméon Patout’s widow and sons and, in turn, their descendants continued his successful enterprises with incremental expansion of landholdings and capital, and by technological innovation. The family’s networks grew, as did its local influence. Wade's task in describing these developments was made significantly harder by the fire in 1959 that destroyed all of Enterprise's records as well as much of the mill. The fire, however, did spark interest among the Patouts in the past of their plantation and led to the commissioning of a history. This study, presumably, is the agreeable product of the misfortune.

Wade has written a narrative that includes a detailed year-by-year accounting of the events at the plantation. Specialists of many types will find here material of interest. Wade offers data on crop yields, prices, and cane milling throughout the period. He discusses agronomic and technological innovations, often recording the prices of machinery and the places where obsolete equipment was resold. He describes the social life of the plantation: the diet, dining customs, and recreations of the Patouts and their peers as well as the quotidian doings of their subordinates. There are glimpses of political life, but most of the reportage is filtered through the eyes of the planters and their allies. The text, which includes many anecdotal comments, gives a good picture of the ethnic, racial, and class dynamics of the region.

The alert reviewer can always find some lacunae to be filled. For instance, the map on page 30 has Orleans Parish (New Orleans) where Lake Ponchartrain should be. One of the senior Patouts would have found this editorial lapse appropriate: he disliked the metropole and made visits as brief as possible.

In sum, this is a fitting tribute to one of North America’s premier sugar families, its industry, and its persistence. It is also a tribute to the industry and persistence of the author. More than ten years in the making, this book stands as an impressive example of local history. Kent Mathewson
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge

Adela Fábregas García, Motril y azúcar: Comerciantes italianos y judíos en el reino de Granada. Series Ingenio Biblioteca de Motril (Motril: Asukaría Mediterránea, 1996).

Around the town of Motril, on the southern coast of Spain, sugar cane is still grown, an interesting remnant of a regional agro-industrial complex that has existed for a thousand years. For the last decade, sugar cane's history in the region has been presented in a series of conferences organized by Antonio Malpica Cuello, who edited the papers presented in those conferences. That activity inspired other publications, including this one, for which Malpica provides the introduction.

Adela Fábregas García based Motril y el azúcar on her "Memoria de Licenciatura", roughly equivalent to an American master's thesis. Its title and subtitle are slightly misleading, for it deals more generally with the kingdom of Granada and its ports than with Motril specifically, and because there is less than a full chapter on the Italians and only seven pages on the Jews. The book’s coverage is thus broader and more shallow than the title suggests. There are lengthy synthetic chapters in which Fábregas sets the stage. The first deals with the geographical situation of the kingdom of Granada and its late medieval economic importance as many Italian merchants, challenged in the Black Sea and the eastern Mediterranean, turned their attention to the western Mediterranean and the Atlantic from the thirteenth century onward. By the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, they had opened direct sea trade with northern Europe and had intensified their activities in Morocco, southern Spain (in both the Muslim and Christian parts), and Portugal. She examines the kingdom of Granada's significant ports -- Almería, Almunécar, and Málaga -- and then discusses the changes in orientation following the Christian conquest at the end of the fifteenth century.

The second chapter traces the familiar story of the spread of sugar cane production from its origin to Palestine, where Europeans encountered it during the Crusades and then spread it to Cyprus and Sicily. From Sicily, it spread to the region of Valencia in the early fifteenth century, due to the close political connections between the two places. Elsewhere in Iberia, in southern Spain, sugar cane had a much longer history. The Muslim Umayyads first introduced it in the tenth century, and it persisted throughout the medieval and modern centuries, despite rather marginal growing conditions. In favoured valleys, such as the Vega of Granada, the countryside around Seville, and along the rivers near Motril and Málaga, sugar cane found a warm climate that in most years escaped freezing temperatures. But southern Spain's rainfall, which virtually ceases during the warm growing season, could not satisfy cane's high demand for water. Thus irrigation had to be provided.

The last two chapters contain the author's most original contributions. She shows the collaboration between the authorities of Granada and the Genoese and Florentine merchants as she traces the sale of Granadan sugar in various European markets. Using archival documents from the late medieval Italian trading company of Francesco di Marco Datini, the famous merchant of Prato, she has prepared statistical analyses of the sales of varieties of sugars in Montpellier, Avignon, and Paris for certain years in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. In every case, sugar from Málaga (i.e., Granadan sugar) occupied an important position. In the Datini documents, Fábregas found references to an indigenous Granadan merchant marine, based in the ports of Almería and Málaga, with trade stretching to Sicily and southern France. Finally, she concludes with a survey of archaeological evidence about sugar refineries in the Mediterranean generally and in Granadan locations specifically.

Based mainly on secondary sources, the book is valuable as an introduction to and a synthesis of recent work on the history of sugar cane's production and commerce in southern Spain, much of it published in the five volumes of the Motril and Granada symposia. The author's work in the Datini records in the archives of Prato provides some interesting details about the marketing of Spanish sugar in the late Middle Ages.

All the volumes carry a common title: Seminario internacional de la caña de azúcar. Their subtitles vary: La caña de azúcar en tiempos de los grandes descubrimientos (1450-1550) (Motril: 1990); La caña de azúcar en el Mediterráneo (Granada: 1991); Producción y comercio del azúcar en época preindustrial (Granada: 1993); 1492: Lo dulce a la conquista de Europe (Granada: 1994); Pasajes del azúcar (Granada: 1995); and Agua, trabajo y azúcar (Granada: 1996).

William D. Phillips, Jr.
University of Minnesota

Jean-Marc Chastel, Le rôle des institutions dans l'évolution de la filière canne à sucre à La Réunion (Diplôme de Doctorat Thèse, École Nationale Supérieur Agronomique de Montpellier, 1995). Pp. 345. 150 FF (hardcover). (Available from M. Hervé Saint Macary, CIRAD, SPID, BP 5035, 34032 Montpellier, Cedex - France. E-mail:

The French Indian Ocean island of Réunion is well outside the main stream of sugar history studies, so that a new authoritative account of the industry there is very much to be welcomed. Chastel has attempted to be comprehensive: he begins with the first mills on the island, continues down to the present day, and includes what must be an exhaustive bibliography. In brief, this book is likely to be a standard reference on sugar in Réunion.

Chastel is a member of a centre for research in agricultural development (CIRAD) in Réunion and this book is the doctoral thesis in agricultural economics that he submitted to the École Nationale Supérieur Agronomique de Montpellier. However, he is not concerned with economic theory or with models, and his language is mercifully free of jargon. In fact, the book reads more like an agricultural history than economics. The originality of the research lies in its application of the concept of the "filière" to the analysis of the Réunion sugar industry. This concept, according to Chastel, is much used in France for the type of study that analyses the transformation of a given crop from cultivation through to the manufacture and distribution of the end products. The analysis includes an examination of the "ensemble of actors" (p. 63) that have a role in any part of the processes of transformation. The actors can be environmental, technological, economic, and political. The term is perhaps reminiscent of "network analysis" in economic geography. Chastel has organized his study so as to demonstrate the importance of each of the actors. He hopes his approach will facilitate comparisons with sugar production in other parts of the world and help in the modelling of change in the industry. The book is thus a precursor to further work.

He begins with a brief description of the sugar filière in Réunion today: its organization, the actors, the pattern of land use, the products, and their markets. He follows this with two chapters of statistical history with data on production, employment, yields of cane per hectare, and so forth from 1815 to the present. Then, in Part 2, he examines the roles of two major actors: the markets and French government policies. In the third part, he divides the history of the filière into distinct periods which at the risk of over simplification are those of the plantation (1815-1881), central factory (1881-1974), and cane-farming (1974-1994), and examines the roles of the various actors in each. He reflects in the Conclusion on how the industry might emerge from its present state of decline.

The sugar historian will find that much in the affairs of Réunion has a familiar ring, such as the labour problems, the pressures of economies of scale, factory-farmer relations, and the importance of new varieties in raising yields. I found the discussion of cane-farming particularly interesting. There are also curious titbits of information: for instance, factory engineers were able to commute between the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean, exploiting the difference in the grinding seasons. Although the format of the book makes for a little repetition, Chastel is successful in bringing out the role of the various actors in the history of the Réunion sugar industry.

J. H. Galloway
University of Toronto


Antonio Santamaría García has sent the following references on Cuba. His addresses are: St. Antony's College, Oxford, U.K. and c/o Javier de Miguel, No. 118, 1_A, 28018, Madrid, Spain.

Laird W. Bergad, Fé Iglesias, and María C. Barcia, The Cuban Slave Market, 1790-1880 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

Juan A. Guisti, "En buscada de la nación concreta: el ‘grupo español’ en la industria azucarera de Puerto Rico, 1890-1920," in Consuela Naranjo, Miguel A. Puig-Samper, and Luis M. García Mora, eds., La nación soñada: Cuba, Puerto Rico y Filipinas ante el 98 (Aranjuez, Madrid: Ed. Doce Calles, 1996).

Antonio Santamaría, "Caña de azúcar y producción de azúcar en Cuba. Crecimiento y organización de la industria azucarera desde mediados del siglo XIX, hasta la finalización de la primera guerra mundial," in La nación soñada.

Antonio Santamaría, "La industria azucarera cubana en la primera mitad de los años veinte," in Manuel Alcantara, Antonia Martinez, and María Rmoas, eds., IV Encuentro de Latinamericanistas (Salamanca: Universidad de Salamanca, 1995).

Antonio Santamaría and Luis M. García Mora, "A propósito de la industria azucarera en Cuba, 1860-1880. Mano de obra y tecnología," in Actas del VIII simposio de historia económica (Barcelona: Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, 1996).

Hernán Venegas, "Acerca del processo de concentración y centralización de la industria azucarera en la región remediana a finales del siglo XIX," Islas, No. 73 (1995).

Oscar Zanetti Lecuona, Dinámica del estancamiento. El cambio tecnológico de la industria azucarera cubana entre 1926 y 1958 (La Habana: Instituto de Historia de Cuba, 1996).

Oscar Zanetti Lecuona, "The Workers’ Movement. A labor regulation in the Cuban sugar industry," Cuban Studies, No. 25 (1995).

Brian H. Pollitt, "The Cuban sugar economy: collapse, reform and prospects for democracy," Journal of Latin American Studies, 29:1 (1997) , pp. 171-210.

K. J. Nuss and P. G. C. Brett, "The release of variety NC0310 in 1945 and its impact on the sugar industry," Proceedings of the South African Sugar Technologists’ Association, (June 1995), pp. 3-8.

Ian Drummond, "Sweet and sour: the dynamics of sugar cane agriculture," International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food, 5 (1996), pp. 40-65. Discusses Barbados and Australia.

John A. Kirchner, "On the theory and practice of plantation transportation," in Anthony W. Thompson, ed., Symposium on Railroad History (Signature Press and the National Model Railroad Association, 1996), vol. 4, pp. 97-117. Available from the A. C. Kalmbach Memorial Library, National Model Railroad Association, 4121 Cromwell Road, Chattanooga, TN 38421, U.S.A.

J. H. Galloway, "Botany in the service of empire: The Barbados cane-breeding program and the revival of the Caribbean sugar industry, 1880s-1930s," Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 86:4 (1996), pp. 682-706.

Humberto García Muñiz, "‘Los ultimos treinta años, 1898-1930’: Un manuscito inedito de Frank Tannenbaum sobre Puerto Rico," Op. Cit. Boletín del Centro de Investigaciones Históricas, 7 (1993), pp. 146-202. Published by the Centro de Investigaciones Históricas, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras.

Alberto Vieira, ed., Slaves With or Without Sugar, Colecço Memórias 13 (Funchal, Madeira: Centro de Estudos de História do Atlântico, 1996). Contains the papers presented at the International Seminar on "Slaves with or without Sugar" held at the Institute of Atlantic History, Funchal, Madeira, June 17-21, 1996. Order from the Centro de Estudos de História do Atlântico, Rua dos Ferreiros, 165-9000, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal.

Jay R. Mandle, Persistent Underdevelopment. Change and Economic Modernization in the West Indies (Amsterdam: Gordon and Breach, 1996). $59 (hardcover). ISBN2-88449-193-7. Paperback: ISBN 2-88449-194-5. We hope to publish a review in the next issue.


Mark Finlay has sent the following references. He can be reached at the Department of History, Armstrong State College, 11935 Abercorn Street, Savannah, GA 31419-1997, U.S.A. E-mail: The translations are by Dr. Finlay.

Walter Achilles, "Die Entbäuerlichung der Bauern 1882-1907. Dargestellt an den Regionen Magdeburger Börde, Anhalt, südliches Niedersachsen und Oldenburg," [Peasants' loss of old peasant mentalities, 1882-1907: described for the regions of the Magdeburg plain, Anhalt, southern Lower Saxony, and Oldenburg] Vierteljahrschrift für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte, 76 (1989), pp. 185-201.

Karin Anderson, Terry L. Shoptaugh, and Wayne Gudmundson, The Growers: Sugar in the Valley, Prairie documents photographic book series (Moorhead, Minn.: Department of Mass Communications, Moorhead State University, 1993).

M. Bakker, "Laboratoria in de nederlandse bietsuikerindustrie," Tijdschrift voor de Geschiedenis der Geneeskunde, Natuurwetenschappen, Wiskunde en Techniek, 9 (1986), pp. 232-241.

Otto Emmerich, Kurt Stephan, Fritz Stellfeld, and Günther Göhre, 140 Jahre Zuckerfabrik Alsleben/Saale: 1850-1990 (Stassfurt: Salzland-Druckerei, 1990).

Patricia J. Estes, David Maack, and Denise Pinkney, The History-Makers: Challenges Met, 1950-1990 (Wahpeton, N.D.: Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative, c.1990).

M. Gill, 125 Jahre Zuckerfabrik Thoringswerder: Meilensteine in der Geschichte unseres Werkes (Thoringswerder: Diamant-Zucker-Fabriken, Werk, 1992).

R. N. Gwynne and Anna Bee, The Chilean Sugar Beet Industry, Working Papers Series, No. 58 (Birmingham: Department of Geography, University of Birmingham, n.d.).

Gundula Heidenreich and Wolfgang Heun, "Die Entwicklung und Vertiefung der vertikalen Kooperation zwischen den LPG und den VEB Zuckerfabriken insbesondere in den 60er Jahren," [Development and intensification of vertical cooperation between "agricultural production communities" and state sugar factories, especially in the 1960s] Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte 3 (1987), pp. 29-48.

Max-Ferdinand Krawinkel, Die Rubenzucker-wirtschaft im 19. Jahrhundert in Deutschland: Analyse und Bewertung der betriebswirtschaftlichen und volks-wirtschaftlichen Entwicklung, Reihe Wirtschafts und Rechtsgeschichte, Vol. 21 (1994). Originally presented as the author's doctoral thesis, Universität zu Köln, 1993.

Lars Olsson, "Betplockarna och första världskriget: om arbetsvandringar och uppkomsten av en internationell arbetsmarknad som bakgrund till första världskriget," [The beet pickers and World War I: labour migration and the rise of an international labour market as a background to World War I] Historisk Tidskrift, 1:42 (1991).

John Perkins, "Nazi autarchic aspirations and the beet-sugar industry, 1933-9," European History Quarterly, 20 (1990), pp. 497-518.

John Perkins, "The organisation of German industry, 1850-1930: The case of beet-sugar production," Journal of European Economic History, 19 (1990), pp. 549-574.

S. M. Petrenko, "Diial’nist’ partorhanizatsii ukrainy po vidbudovi syrovynnoi bazy tsukrovoi promyslovosti (1921-1925)," [The activity of the Ukrainian Party organization in rebuilding the base of the sugar industry, 1921-25] Ukrains’kyi Istorychnyi Zhurnal, 12 (1986), pp. 106-113.

Agnes Pogány, "Bankers and families: the case of the Hungarian sugar industry," Acta Historica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, 35 (1989), pp. 169-180.

Tsuruyoshi Sengoku, "Wasei sato kaisan-shi no kenkyu: ikegami yukimori no seito-ho denho o chushin ni," [A study of the history of the Japanese sugar manufacturing industry: the manufacturing methods taught by Ikegami Yukimori] Hosei Shigaku, 43 (1991), pp. 78-97.

John B. Sharkey, "William McMurtrie, baking powder and the sugar beet," Proceedings of the 208th American Chemical Society Meeting. Division of the History of Chemistry (Washington: American Chemical Society, 1994).

John Sheail, "The agricultural pollution of watercourses: the precedents set by the beet-sugar and milk industries," Agricultural History Review, 41 (1993), pp. 31-43.

Terry L. Shoptaugh and Korella Selzler, A Guide to the Collections of the Red River Valley Sugar Beet Growers Association housed at the Northwest Minnesota Historical Center, Livingston Lord Library, Moorhead State University (Moorhead, MN: Moorhead State University, 1993).

Monika Sonke, "Die Entwicklung der mecklen-burgischen Zuckerindustrie im letzten drittel des 19 Jh.," [The development of the Mecklenburg sugar industry in the last third of the 19th century] Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte, 3 (1991), pp. 53-67.

George S. Vascik, "Sugar barons and bureaucrats: unravelling the relationship between economic interest and government in modern Germany, 1799-1945," Business and Economic History, 21 (1992), pp. 336-342.

George S. Vascik, "The Brussels Convention of 1902: Reevaluating the roles of state and industry in Wilhelmine Germany," Essays in Economic and Business History, 7 (1989), pp. 91-100.

George S. Vascik, "What was the German sugar cartel? An analysis of interest group representation and industrial organisation," Essays in Economic and Business History, 8 (1990), pp. 355-367.

Pierre Vigreux, "Aux origines du savoir agro-alimentaire: la creation de l’école nationale des industries agricoles (Douai, 1893)," Revue du Nord, 72 (1990), pp. 255-289.

Gerald Vizenor, "Racial domination and class conflict in capitalist agriculture: The Oxnard Beet Workers' Strike of 1903," in Ronald Tanaki, ed., From Different Shores: Perspectives on Race and Ethnicity in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994).



The Hawaiian Sugar Planters’ Association has donated its Plantation Archives to the University of Hawai’i. (See WSHN, No. 8, June 1986, for a description of some of the holdings.) The Plantation Archives will be managed by the Special Collections Department of the Library of the University of Hawai’i.

The Hawaiian Sugar Planters’ Association founded the Plantation Archives in 1981 to house records that were in danger of being lost as sugar companies went out of business. The Archives contain data on all aspects of plantation work and are of fundamental importance to the sugar history of Hawai’i.

For further information, please write to the HSPA Plantation Archives, Special Collections, University of Hawai’i at M_noa Library, 2550 The Mall, Honolulu, Hawai’i, 96822, U.S.A.

* * *

Dominican Republic

The Law School of the University of Puerto Rico has acquired the archives of Peynado and Peynado, one of the most important law firms of the Dominican Republic. The records date from the earlier decades of this century and consist not only of legal correspondence, but also of political papers, books, newspapers, and pamphlets. The archives will open next year.

For a discussion of their contents see Humberto García Muñis, "El bufete corporativo en el Caribe: El Archivo Peynado y Peynado de la República Dominicana y su importancia para los estudios Caribeños," Op. Cit. Boletín del Centro de Investigaciones Históricas, 9 (1994-95), pp. 54-95.


Russell Furdell is interested in sugar blowing, sugar pulling, and sugar sculpture. He would appreciate references on present-day practices, that survive in the confectionary business, as well as on the history of these arts. Mr. Furdell can be reached at 205 Newton Street, Fredonia, New York, 4063, U.S.A. E-mail:

The WSHN is also interested in the references.

The World Sugar History Newsletter is compiled by Jock Galloway and Peter Blanchard. The subscription rate is $15 for two years (four issues). The date listed on the address sticker is the subscription expiration date. Personal cheques made out to World Sugar History Newsletter and drawn on Canadian or American banks are acceptable. Correspondence and subscriptions should be sent to Jock Galloway or Peter Blanchard, Victoria College, University of Toronto, 73 Queen’s Park Crescent, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 1K7. E-mail: or Back issues of the WSHN can be found on its website at http: //