Angola Prison


“In 1880, Major [Samuel] James [a former Confederate major] purchased an 8,000-acre plantation in West Feliciana Parish called Angola (named after the area in Africa where the former slaves came from).  He began keeping some inmates there at what used to be the Old Slave Quarters, which later became Camp A.  (Camp A is no longer used to house inmates.)  Primarily, however, inmates worked on levee construction on the Mississippi River outside either Angola or the penitentiary in Baton Rouge.  In 1894, Major James died and his son took over the lease.  However, the 1890’s were years of reform and the public was shocked by newspaper accounts of brutality inflicted upon inmates.  On January 1, 1901, the State of Louisiana resumed control of all inmates after 55 years of the lease system…”

Some historians of slavery dispute the idea that the name Angola was connected to people in the area, arguing the enslaved people at the original slave plantation did not come from Angola, Africa

The museum began in 1996 when  the former Angola Warden Burl Cain recognized the importance of Angola’s history. He called together a group of interested people, including some of the assistant wardens and presented his ideas about creating a prison museum at Angola. His goal was to which would document the history of Louisiana’s prisons in order to not repeat the horrors of the past.”