Thursday, March 5, 2015

2015 LHA annual meeting in Lafayette

LaRC Public Services Librarian Sean Benjamin giving his presentation at the first session of the Louisiana Historical Association annual meeting, March 5, 2015. 

The 57th annual meeting of the Louisiana Historical Association is being held March 5-7, 2015, at the Ramada Lafayette Conference Center in Lafayette, Louisiana.  LaRC Department Head, Leon Miller, chaired a lively and successful session, "Archival Innovation in Access, Reference, and Teaching."  Presentations were given by Sally K. Reeves of the Office of the Clerk of Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans; Trish Nugent and Elizabeth Kelly of Loyola University; and Sean Benjamin of Tulane University's Louisiana Research Collection.

Sean's talk described "Too Much of a Good Thing: Managing Archival Reference Overload."  The audience responded warmly to hearing of the advances and challenges in providing access services to the public, and the discussion went past the scheduled time.

Tulane History Dept. graduate student and LaRC assistant, Alix Riviere, delivers her paper, "Enslaved Children and Race Relations in Antebellum Virginia and Louisiana," March 6, 2015.   Alongside Alix on the panel are Gregory K. Weimer of Florida International University and Andrew N. Wegmann, Louisiana State University. 

Photo and post by Susanna Powers

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

1953 post card offer

LaRC Manuscripts Collection 219 is the Jacob Streiffer post card collection, 1900-1960s.  This collection, arranged into small envelopes in one box, by general subject, consists of printed post cards collected by Jacob Streiffer (1902-1969) of New Orleans, who lived at homes on St. Roch Ave. in Gentilly, and later Decatur St. . Most of these post cards date from the early twentieth century and depict street and garden scenes, including of Audubon Park and City Park, the French Quarter, monuments, cemeteries, Carnival, riverfront and other New Orleans views, and African Americans. The post cards in this collection are predominantly drawings or photographs printed in color and unmailed, but a few of the later cards have handwritten or printed messages and were sent through the mail to Jacob Streiffer or his wife.

Caption:  a post card mailed to Mrs. J. Streiffer, March 9, 1953, announces a special offer at the Gentilly Meat Market, 5321 Franklin Ave., New Orlean, La.: 
9th - 10th - 11th ONLY

(from Jacob Streiffer post card collection, 1900-1960s, Manuscripts Collection 219, Box 1)
The Gentilly Meat Market had the same address and was possibly located in the same structure of various more recent storefront businesses in this area; see this Google street view shot showing Cousin's Seafood in July 2014.   Images of items in the Louisiana Research Collection may not be re-published without permission.

Posted by Susanna Powers

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mardi Gras weekend

The Schiro Reading Room will be closed Saturday, February 14 – Tuesday, February 17, 2015.   For weekend hours of the main Howard-Tilton Memorial Library building, see the hours listing on the library web site.   Lundi Gras and Mardi Gras are Tulane University holidays.

To learn about New Orleans Carnival celebrations of the past, please visit the online Carnival Collection, featuring images of more than 5,500 original float and costume designs held in the Louisiana Research Collection.   The digitized collection ensures preservation of these colorful creative images, and provides open access across the world.   

Have a happy and safe Mardi Gras!

Caption: Krewe of Proteus 1892, costume 33, as preserved in the online Carnival Collection, Louisiana Digital Library and the Tulane Digital Library.   For more about the 1892 Proteus parade costume designs, see Storehouse, featuring Leon Miller's descriptive narration.  Images of items in the Louisiana Research Collection may not be re-published without permission.

Posted by Susanna Powers

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Tokens of love

Long-saved Valentines in Bowman family papers, 1815-1972
 (Manuscripts Collection 175, Box 1, Folder 8) 

The Bowman family papers include a wide variety of subjects and types of archival items which had been collected over most of two centuries.  The family kept handwritten and typed correspondence, post cards, Valentines and other greeting cards, telegrams, diaries, legal and financial documents, diplomas, certificates, a railroad map, medical papers, life insurance documents, a 1918 passport of Ruth Green Bowman, French World War I rationing stamps for bread, American Red Cross papers, poetry, sheet music, church programs, calling cards and other items of social ephemera including mounted flowers and plants, a pipe, photographs, negatives and contact prints, newspaper clippings and other printed items. An 1815 letter concerns the Battle of New Orleans.  Some text is in French, and typed transcriptions accompany some documents, which always helps with legibility. Photographs in the collection depict scenes from World War I; the Alaskan photographs include portraits of Native Americans; the volume holds uncaptioned candid group photographs dated 1972.

Bowman family members lived in Baltimore and New Orleans from the early nineteenth to at least the late twentieth century. Ruth Green Bowman attended New Orleans public schools at the turn of the century; during World War I, she worked with the American Red Cross in France. In the 1910s, Hullin S. Mott went on a Canadian Arctic Expedition and an Alaskan Polar Bear Expedition. Ruth Bowman later married Hullin S. Mott. Ruth Mott attended a literary workshop in 1954. Other individuals and families represented in this collection include: Cottman, Hoffman, Gumbel, Springer, Kenner and Woodruff.

Images of items in the Louisiana Research Collection may not be re-published without permission.

Posted by Susanna Powers

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

LaRC books-- Lost in the cosmos

Browsing the library catalog or the stacks, works by and about Southern author Walker Percy are plentiful, both in the main Howard-Tilton stacks and in Special Collections.   A number of his works have multiple copies in various locations within the library.   Walker Percy’s prevalent descriptive style and subdued mood appear in his famous mid-twentieth century New Orleans novel, The Moviegoer, winner of the 1962 National Book Award for Fiction.

But lesser known are his works classified as nonfiction.    Called “Walker Percy’s Weirdest Book” by Tom Bartlett in the Chronicle of Higher Education (May 10, 2010), Lost in the Cosmos is very unlike The Moviegoer.   However, categorizing this book as nonfiction is also imperfect, because the reader who persists through the first three-fourths of it is treated to a small, beautifully written science fiction story about space travel, astronaut couples, and children born in space who later travel to earth.  The bulk of the book concerns philosophy, semiotics, religion, science, sexuality, and commentary on the individual self and the precarious status of human life on earth.   His heavy use of lengthy scholarly footnotes is simultaneously somewhat serious and self-depricatingly humorous.   Many of the cultural references are now dated; the overall tone of the book ranges from matter-of-fact to humorous.

Lost in the cosmos : the last self-help book / Walker Percy.  New York : Farrar, Straus & Giroux, c1983.

PS3566.E6912 L6 1983

Multiple copies are located in:

      Howard-Tilton stacks, Louisiana Research Collection, Rare Books (William B. Wisdom)  

Posted by Susanna Powers

Friday, January 16, 2015

Martin Luther King holiday weekend

The Schiro Reading Room will be closed Saturday, January 17 through Monday, January 19, 2015, in honor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

The annual MLK Week for Peace will also be observed in the coming week.

Before coming for a personal visit to the Schiro Reading Room, it is always a good idea to check our hours page on the LaRC website.

Have a peaceful and good weekend.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Selling New Orleans

LaRC Manuscripts Collection 35 is made up of personal and professional papers of Robert Glenk (1870-1950), who was born in Germany and brought to the United States as an infant. He lived in Philadelphia and later New Orleans. After being educated as a scientist, Robert Glenk worked as a chemist with the Louisiana Sugar Experiment Station, 1899-1904. Mr. Glenk was a founder of the Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans in 1905, and was its curator from 1906 to 1935. He retired from the museum in 1948. His interests were agriculture, horticulture, fairs and festivals, and promotion of New Orleans. He was married to Dr. Clara Theresa Israel Glenk (b. 1873).

Included in the Robert Glenk papers are handwritten and typed correspondence, post cards, telegrams, programs, certificates, diaries, wills, financial documents, items of social ephemera, Glenk family photographs, photographs of Louisiana exhibits at fairs and expositions, manuscripts, class notes, experiments, speeches, menu cards, items relating to professional societies, drawings, scrapbooks, pamphlets, clippings and other printed items. The correspondence received by Robert Glenk is from a wide variety of sources; correspondents include Martin Behrman, Sophie B. Wright, William Beer, Rufus C. Harris, Edmond Souchon, E. A. McIlhenny, Ellsworth Woodward, and Ethel Hutson. The collection also includes a compilation of printed items on growing ramie stalks as an alternative to cotton, items relating to state fairs and world's fairs and expositions, as well as a letter from Huey P. Long to Henry P. Dart.

The collection will be of interest to those researching international fairs, southern field crops, museum history, and the relative economic importance of New Orleans over time.    

Caption: Robert Glenk with Louisiana exhibits at the Panama Exposition in San Francisco in 1915 (coll. 35, v. 26).  One of the signs reads: "New Orleans is the greatest factory city in the southern states and the chief distribution canter of the south."   Images of items in the Louisiana Research Collection may not be re-published without permission.  

Posted by Susanna Powers

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy Holidays!

The Schiro Reading Room will be open during normal hours through Tuesday, December 23, 2014, and then close for Winter Recess.    Normal hours will resume on Monday, January 5, 2015.

Please note, however, that the main Howard-Tilton Memorial Library building has closed down because of construction, and tentatively plans to resume operations on Monday, January 5, 2015.   More information about the construction project is available on the library web site.

Have a safe and happy holiday season, and a prosperous new year!  

Caption:  handmade glass ornaments, Newcomb Art Dept. Holiday Studio Sale, Dec. 5, 2014.

Photograph and post by Susanna Powers


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Visual keepsakes of Minette Sterbcow

Minette Henrietta Dreyfus Sterbcow (1916-1999) was a daughter of Morris Dreyfus and Julia Hirsch Dreyfus of New Orleans.  She collected family photographs throughout her life, along with school and social ephemera and other meaningful papers.  In the late twentieth century, she was a widow with no children, but wished for these items to be donated to Tulane University.  Her visually and culturally rich collection is now held in LaRC as Manuscripts Collection 1068.

Her papers include handwritten and typed correspondence, greeting cards, post cards, poetry, legal documents, biographical and genealogical information, her own and her mother's New Orleans school papers, invitations, announcements, keepsakes, synagogue programs, B'nai B'rith items, numerous family photographs including matted or framed formal portraits created in New Orleans studios as well as candid amateur family photographs, negatives, Carnival and masonic items, printed color posters, advertisements, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings and other printed items. A portion of the collection is devoted to the actor Lionel Adams (d. 1952), an uncle of Minette Sterbcow's whose original name was Moise Hirsch.  The collection includes numerous photographs of Lionel Adams in performance in the New York theater.  Minette continued collecting everything about her well-known uncle’s career, including the advertisements in which he appeared as a model in his later years.  Many of the photographs are undated or uncaptioned, but the collection spans the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as a variety of styles and subjects.

Allied Jewish families or friends represented in the collection include Weil, Leopold, Abramson, Steeg, Goldfarb, Friedman, and others. New Orleans schools represented include Robert M. Lusher School, McDonogh No. 13 and 15, Isidore Newman School, Eleanor McMain High School, Francis T. Nicholls Vocational School for Girls, and L. E. Rabouin Memorial School.

This collection will be of interest to those doing historical research in Jewish studies, genealogy, photography, New Orleans education and business, New Orleans Carnival and other social activities, American theater, and advertising.

Captions: Minette with her husband Lewis Sterbcow in 1942 (Collection 1068, oversized folder 2); advertisement featuring Lionel Adams (oversized folder 3); uncaptioned Carnival festivities (box 6, folder 7); and formal studio photograph of Minette in 1930, by photographer C. Bennette Moore of New Orleans (box 2, folder 6).  Images of items in the Louisiana Research Collection may not be re-published without permission.   

Posted by Susanna Powers

Saturday, November 1, 2014

American soldiers' writings

To honor American soldiers and veterans of all generations, the following is a sample listing of LaRC archival collections which include original soldiers' writings, in their letters or in diaries.  Several represented here spent time as prisoners of war on American soil. Some died during military service, while others lived long celebrated lives.

Manuscripts Collection 416 

Manuscripts Collection 958 

Manuscripts Collection 614 

Manuscripts Collection 400 

Manuscripts Collection 545 

Manuscripts Collection 79 

Manuscripts Collection 916

Manuscripts Collection 246 

Manuscripts Collection 449

Manuscripts Collection 711

Manuscripts Collection 476

Manuscripts Collection 493 

Manuscripts Collection 78 

Manuscripts Collection 3 

Manuscripts Collection 87 

Manuscripts Collection 690

Manuscripts Collection 213 

Manuscripts Collection 104 

Manuscripts Collection 967 

Manuscripts Collection 1065

Manuscripts Collection 1066 

Manuscripts Collection 1067 

Manuscripts Collection 329 

Manuscripts Collection 498 

Manuscripts Collection 580

Manuscripts Collection 815 

Manuscripts Collection 134 

Manuscripts Collection 1011 

Manuscripts Collecton 996

Manuscripts Collection 167 

This list is the result of a search in the library catalog.
Howard-Tilton Memorial Library "Classic Catalog" advanced search. 
Search: Soldiers' writings, American
[all of these]    [subject keyword]
combined with
Type:   Archival material.
Click on the link to learn more about each collection.

The Schiro Reading Room will be open for normal hours on Veterans Day.

Posted by Susanna Powers

Monday, October 13, 2014

LaRC books-- the fiction of Rhodesia Jackson

In her Pecan Candy trilogy, Rhodesia Jackson narrates the life-changing experiences of young Peggy Lavizzo of Orleans Avenue, as she falls in love and marries architect Clint Johnston.   Although both native New Orleanian African-Americans, the two characters are very different in socio-economic background and circumstances, age, family, skin color, education, life experience, religion, and point of view.

Pecan candy & huck-a-bucks / by Rhodesia Jackson.  2nd ed.  New Orleans, LA : Orgena Enterprises, c1995. 
 PS 3560 .A24197 P4 1995 LACOLL
(also in a Kindle ed. From

Sweeter than candy / Rhodesia Jackson.  1st ed.  New Orleans, LA : Orgena, c1997.
 PS 3560 .A24197 S92 1997 LACOLL

Three times sweeter, love, home & family / Rhodesia Jackson.  1st ed.  New Orleans, LA : Orgena Enterprises Ltd., c2000.
[pre-order process in LaRC]

Yes, there’s candy-making, mini-snowballs, delicious aromatic food, music, sensual situations, romantic and family love, shopping, generosity, babies, adorable children, a Saints player, prayers, and hilarious vulgar dialogue.   There is even a trip to New York for cultural contrast.   But this is no pre-Katrina fairy tale.   Racial and intra-racial prejudice, male chauvinism, female opportunism, domestic abuse, poverty, materialism, political corruption, homophobia, mental illness, Voodoo curses, drug abuse, AIDS, crime, gun violence, and tragedy are themes throughout the ambitious trilogy.    

The author currently lives in New Orleans, working through websites and continuing her writing in the form of  screenplays and other projects, as cinematic-style dialogue is a strength of her work.    In a 2013 interview here, she comments on the effect of the Katrina disaster on herself, her family, and her writing.  

LaRC collects literary works by Louisiana authors, particularly when the Louisiana setting is of prominent importance in the narrative, verse, or text.  Works of fiction often serve the purpose of cultural preservation; poetry and nonfiction contribute to the knowledge and sense of the times.    

Posted by Susanna Powers

Friday, September 26, 2014

New Orleans art schools' calendars

New Orleans art schools' calendars (LaRC Manuscripts Collection 522) is a grouping of locally-produced calendars featuring years between 1902 and 1938.   It contains original color or monochrome linoleum-block or wood-block prints and printed reproductions designed by various artists and published through art schools in New Orleans. These were compiled into annual calendars, mostly bound with string, and produced through the Newcomb College Art Department, and art classes of the Isidore Newman School, in New Orleans.  With art and music education being presently reduced in the primary and secondary schools, this collection is evidence of a slower-paced era when creativity and patience were valued.

Many of the designs incorporate carved-in students' initials; the collection also includes designs by Mary Frances Baker and Rosalie Urquhart. Subjects depicted in the calendars include New Orleans buildings, bridges, boats, natural scenes, the Shushan Airport, and Mayan masks and figurines. One of the calendars features famous women of New Orleans, and includes portraits of Baroness Pontalba, Margaret Haughery, Sophie B. Wright, Grace King, and Dorothy Dix, plus images of nuns, an African-American woman, and a Mardi Gras queen.

Other similar prints and calendars are cataloged separately in the Louisiana Collection (LACOLL), which is part of the Louisiana Research Collection.

Captions:  top: a printed cover of A New Orleans calendar, 1905, designed by Rosalie Urquhart (Newcomb College), located in 522-1-2;  bottom, an original 1937 print featuring an unnamed African-American woman (art class, Newman School ... "This calendar designed and cut by art class of Newman School, New Orleans, Louisiana"), located in 522-1-13.    Images of items in the Louisiana Research Collection may not be re-published without permission.

Posted by Susanna Powers

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Patriot Day

Tulane remembers 9/11, a joint effort,
as installed on the LBC quad today

photos & post by Susanna Powers

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Labor Day weekend

The Schiro Reading Room will be closed Saturday, August 30 - Monday, September 1, 2014, for Labor Day.    Hours of the main library building are available on the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library website.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

9th anniversary of Katrina

August is Katrina Month in New Orleans.   August 29, 2014, will mark the ninth anniversary of the storm, the flood, and one of the worst disasters in American history.

Creative and informative writing on Katrina continues to be published and collected by the library, and especially by the Louisiana Research Collection.   Recently-retired Tulane University president Scott Cowen has written a scholarly memoir of his presidency which strongly focuses on the disaster and continuing recovery of the university and the city.   Copies are held in the main Howard-Tilton stacks as well as in LaRC:

                Cowen, Scott S.  The inevitable city : the resurgence of New Orleans and the future of urban America / Scott Cowen, with Betsy Seifter ; foreword by Walter Isaacson.  First edition.  New York, NY : Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

Howard-Tilton Stacks
HT177.N49 C69 2014

Jones Hall Louisiana Research Collection
HT177.N49 C69 2014

Rather than simply taking credit for his own personal leadership during the aftermath of the storm,  Scott Cowen carefully describes a wide variety of examples of individuals and groups who contributed to the direction of recovery.  He doesn’t rewrite the painful and divisive conditions of the 2005/2006. 

“In my seven pre-Katrina years in New Orleans, I was, in a way, a tourist.  But since Katrina, I feel more like I’m “from here.”  I’ve become engaged with everything New Orleans—the music, the food, the artists, the history; the hurricane parties, the Mardi Gras floats, the smell of jasmine, the glitter of the river.  I’ve met remarkable people, like the late Jefferson Parish sheriff Harry Lee, who figured out how to get Tulane’s database files out of a downtown building when the city was under martial law, and like Quint Davis, the mastermind and producer of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, who almost singlehandedly brought the city’s music—everything from the Mardi Gras Indians’ chants to Professor Longhair’s blues—to national prominence.  And then there’s Bob Breland, my regular cabdriver, whose colorful turns of phrase, careening sense of humor, and encyclopedic mind for city detail remind me of Ignatius from John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces.” –p.10-11.

“It’s tempting to blame everything on Ray, but circumstances shape things more than we like to think.  The troubled racial history of the town inevitably surfaced after Katrina, and if it hadn’t been Ray with his chocolate city speech, it would undoubtedly have been someone else stirring the pot.  At the same time, character matters.  Leadership matters.  Our job as civic leaders was to work with the difficult realities, including the realities of racial distrust, political dissension, and the traumatic effects of loss and dislocation.” – p. 38.

 “Urban revitalization requires leaders, both direct and indirect, who are committed to both the daily grind and the visionary goal.  In the end, the resurgence of New Orleans is the result of people who took responsibility and took charge, of leaders from all over who did the work and found the means to achieve what looked like an impossible goal.  And once again in its long, dramatic history, New Orleans has proved itself to be the inevitable city.”   p. 217.

Posted by Susanna Powers


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Louisiana as it was in 1873

Samuel H. Lockett (1837-1891) was an engineer and professor of engineering, who worked in an official capacity with the United States, and during the American Civil War, with the Confederate States. He conducted a topographic survey of the state of Louisiana from 1869 to 1872. 

The Samuel H. Lockett manuscripts (LaRC Manuscripts Collection 826) consists of handwritten descriptive text and illustrations of two works by Samuel H. Lockett. Included in the collection are: Louisiana as it is (1873-1874); and The coast of Louisiana (undated). The second work is also included as a bound typescript. Throughout the first manuscript are small hand-drawn sketches of Louisiana scenes, and edited clipped proofs for possible publication; photographs are grouped together in a folder. A handwritten sheet listing an 1870 population table by parish and race, derived from the federal census, is an informative addition to the description of the state's natural topography and geography.

This collection will be useful to environmental scientists interested in the changes in the Louisiana coast over time, as well as to historians, cultural researchers, and students of Louisiana in the visual arts.  

Caption: mounted photographs from Manuscripts Collection 826, Box 1, Folder 8.  Images of items held in the Louisiana Research Collection may not be re-published without permission.

Posted by Susanna Powers

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

pardon our progress

New furniture is being constructed today by workers from DKI Office Furniture.   The reading room is closed until they finish the installation, possibly Tuesday afternoon.

UPDATE, Wed. July 16, the reading room has returned to our normal hours as posted on the LaRC website.   It is always a good idea to check there for possible exceptions.

Photo and post by Susanna Powers

Monday, July 14, 2014

Closed Tuesday morning, 7/15

The Schiro Reading Room will be closed 
Tuesday morning, July 15, 2014,
 for furniture installation.    

Friday, June 6, 2014

D-Day Love-Letter

Today marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, when Allied Troops landed on the beaches of Normandy in an invasion that ultimately turned the tide of the Second World War. The Louisiana Research Collection preserves the papers of Murrel H. Kaplan, who served in the Army Medical Corps at the 64th General Hospital in Italy during World War II. In this letter to his wife, penned while listening to the radio broadcast of the battle, Kaplan recounts his and his fellow Medical Corps officers' experience of the event, as well as his eagerness for the war to end.

                                                                                                                                        6 June '44

         Today is a memorable day. it is never to be forgotten. The invasion across the channel began, which is a long way for saying that it marks the beginning of the end of Hitlerism. It significances, altho manifold, is interpreted as having but one meaning -- that soon this European conflict will be over, and we will be on our way home to our loved ones. Since early this morning, all ears have been glued to the radio, even tho we knew that there would be nothing to say about the first day's fighting. It just sounded so wonderful to hear the announcer read Gen'l Eisenhower's order of the day. The repetition, instead of becoming boring, served the opposite effect, for the reality of such a long awaited event had to be driven home. As you can well visualize, the joy of this excitement was so great that hardly anyone could get any work done. The frequent consultations, the comparison of notes and of words made each of us forget for the moment that we were thousands of miles away. We could only pinch ourselves to make sure we weren't dreaming. Oh darling, this war will be over soon, and we will be together again. 
      Because I felt that I was of no value today on my ward, I decided to go back to Maj. Holabaugh and let him check me. He found everything quiescent, which pleased me as usual. he thanked me for the compact you sent his wife. he appreciated it very much for it was only a small way of finding out how grateful I've been for all his attention. 
     Last night, I saw Wallace Beery in "Rationing." it was a typical picture, with a few laughs and a lot of slap-stick comedy. tonight it was Bing Crosby in "Star Maker." Altho it was an old show, I enjoyed it thoroughly. movies always fascinate me. It add so so much to this otherwise drab existence. 
     There was very little mail today. i am sure the boys at the A.P.O. took off a half day to listen to the news. I don't blame them; I would have too! 
     Please excuse this rotten letter, but it has been an exhausting day. My sweetheart, I feel so happy, I could shout aloud. The invasion has actually taken place! We are that much nearer to being together. Gosh, how I love and adore you - and how I miss you. 
     Love to the fallen, my heart to you, 
     Your Sweetie

Posted by Samantha Bruner

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Discoveries in Jones Hall-- birthday parties on Constantinople Street

Cornelia Dean Genella Sansum (1868-1960) and her her husband, Samuel Sansum (1858-1945), a lawyer, lived at 1636 Constantinople Street in New Orleans during the twentieth century. Mrs. Sansum's mother was Mary Louise Kennedy (1836-1899). Cornelia and Samuel Sansum were married in 1902. 

Mrs. Sansum donated her rather small amount of personal papers to the library in 1950, and they are held in the Louisiana Research Collection as Manuscripts Collection 586.  This collection consists of handwritten correspondence, affectionate birthday greetings from Sam to Cornelia, a business card, a calling card, advertisements, their marriage announcement, a reception invitation, Samuel Sansum's 1918 certificate of naturalization, and Cornelia Sansum's small prebound datebook into which she wrote birth, death, and marriage dates of some of her relatives. Names represented include members of the Sansum, Genella, and Kennedy families of Louisiana and Mississippi.

In the late 1940s, when Mrs. Sansum was elderly, she held her own birthday parties at her grand home. Gathered from twenty-first century research interviews, John Kennedy Toole biographer, Cory MacLauchlin, relates in Butterfly in the Typewriter, that as an adolescent, Toole attended Mrs. Sansum's birthday parties, where he was required to recite poems for her, and a friend of his performed piano sonatas.  Afterward, the young people enjoyed cookies and petits-fours, and would have fun riding up and down in Mrs. Sansum's elevator.

John Kennedy Toole may have been related to Cornelia Sansum, as they shared the ancestral name of Kennedy, which is the maiden name of the author's mother's grandmother.  It seems probable that the young Toole might have been sent to these parties of an aging great-aunt, as a family obligation. Also, it seems more than a coincidence that Constantinople Street in New Orleans figures prominently in Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces, although we imagine that the fictional Ignatius Reilly and his mother lived down on the other side of Saint Charles Avenue.

Captions: the naturalization certificate of Samuel Sansum; 
a notation in Cornelia Sansum's datebook: Born ... 1840, John Kennedy, Biloxi, Miss. 

Butterfly in the Typewriter by Cory MacLauchlin is available in LaRC with call number:
 PS 3570 .O54 C666 2012 LACOLL. 
 Another copy is located in the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library main stacks. 

Images of items in the Louisiana Research Collection may not be republished without permission.

Posted by Susanna Powers