Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Easter weekend

 The Schiro Reading Room will be closed Friday April 18 and Saturday April 19, resuming normal current hours at 10:00 am on Monday April 21. Have a good weekend.

Image is from The Mammals of Louisiana and its Adjacent Waters by George H. Lowery, Jr.
p. 165, swamp rabbit.     QL 719 .L8 L68    LACOLL Reference.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tour of Toole's New Orleans, June 7, 2014

Cory MacLauchlin, author of Butterfly in the Typewriter, is planning to host a John Kennedy Toole event on Saturday, June 7, 2014.    He recently posted this information on his web site:


A tour of JKT’s New Orleans is being organized for June 7, 2014. We will escape from Baton Rouge! As your guide I will show you the sites and tell you the stories that inspired A Confederacy of Dunces. The tour includes a presentation of the Toole Papers at Tulane University, some of JKT’s favorite French Quarter haunts and a behind-the-scenes look at the Lucky Dog Warehouse.
Space is limited. Tickets are on sale now through the Manship Theatre. If you have any questions please contact Marti Luke at martiluke@reagan.com

The Louisiana Research Collection is honored to be a stop on the tour.  

Posted by Susanna Powers 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

LHA Annual Meeting

The Louisiana Historical Association is holding its annual meeting in Hammond, March 27-29, 2014.   This afternoon, Leon Miller (third from left, above) spoke on the topic of digital archives.  The session was called "Digital Archives and Louisiana History: A Panel Discussion."  Others on the panel were Chris Brown (Centenary College), Laura Lyons McLemore (LSU-Shreveport), and Laura Charney (Digitizing Louisiana's Newspapers Project).

Post and photo by Susanna Powers

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

getting the group together

Annie Peterson photographing most of the staff of the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library this afternoon
on the Freret St. side of Jones Hall.

 These photos and post by Susanna Powers (hoping the real shot is saved in University Archives forever)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Carnival keepsakes throughout LaRC

Mary Elizabeth Sanders Family Memorabilia, 1862-1957 (Manuscripts Collection 275) is primarily about the political career of Mary's grandfather, Jared Young Sanders, governor of Louisiana from 1908 to 1912.  But Mary Sanders, like many or most individuals and families in Louisiana, preserved Carnival ephemera along with other personal mementos.  This will be found especially among the more influential citizens' papers, as they were often participants or royalty in the parades and balls, at some point in their lives.

A rich source for research on New Orleans Carnival, the Louisiana Research Collection holds the massive physical Carnival Collection, 1857-     (Manuscripts Collection 900), large selections of which have been digitized in the Louisiana Digital Library, and accessed freely online.    But additionally, LaRC's archival collections widely contain Carnival keepsakes from the nineteenth through twenty-first centuries.   Searching the library catalog with an advanced search, combining subject keyword "Carnival Louisiana New Orleans" and limiting by type (archival material), you will retrieve a large sample of collections with authentic personal memorabilia from Carnival.

Caption:  Keepsakes in Collection 275, Box 1, Folder 3, with ephemera relating to twentieth century events by krewes of Momus, Comus, Hermes, and Proteus.    Images of items in the Louisiana Research Collection may not be republished without permission.

Posted by Susanna Powers

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

1932 Valentine telegram

LaRC’s Robert G. Polack Papers, 1764-1984 (Manuscripts Collection 231) contains personal papers of New Orleans lawyer, Robert Goodhart Polack (d. 1984), as well as Polack and Lemann families papers and his collection of genealogical and historical documents primarily relating to New Orleans.  This archival collection includes typed and handwritten correspondence, partially printed legal documents, certificates, telegrams, invitations, post cards, greeting cards, travel diaries, drawings, prints, maps, photographs, petitions, land grants, military papers, campaign items, newspaper clippings and other printed items.

Much of the twentieth-century correspondence is between Robert "Bobby" Polack and his wife, Dorothy Prentiss Polack, including letters written by both.

Caption: Collection 231, Box 1, Folder 12:  Valentine telegram sent by Bobby Polack to his future wife, Dorothy Prentiss.    The back of the paper is stamped: 1932 Feb 14  AM 12:58

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

Posted by Susanna Powers

Friday, January 31, 2014

1892 Krewe of Proteus designs

LaRC’s annual Carnival exhibit is now on display in the Special Collections gallery, Jones Hall Room 201.

“Floats, Costumes, and the Vegetable Kingdom: The original designs for the wonderfully odd 1892 Proteus parade.”

Using the theme “A Dream of the Vegetable Kingdom,” in 1892 the Krewe of Proteus created floats and costumes based on corn, watermelon, and even English peas. Intended as working drawings for float builders and costumiers, the designs are also stunningly beautiful works of art.

The designs are by Carlotta Bonnecaze, the first woman and first creole to design floats for a Carnival krewe. Carnival historian Henri Schindler calls her work “astonishing” and argues that in this 1892 parade, she used subtle layers of color to achieve her most beautifully painted designs.

“A Dream of the Vegetable Kingdom” is also a rare instance of LaRC preserving both the complete set of eighteen float designs and the complete set of 101 costume designs for the same parade. Unlike today, each costume depicted a unique character designed specifically for the person who wore it. Sixteen float designs and thirty-eight costume designs are on display.

In addition to being beautiful works of art in their own right, the designs are heavily used by researchers in a variety of fields, including present-day Carnival designers, float builders, business people, historians, sociologists, and litterateurs. LaRC preserves one of the largest Carnival collections in the world, including roughly 5,600 original designs, all of which are available online through the Louisiana Digital Library. With all of the designs having been placed online, we have restricted the delicate originals for preservation purposes, so this is a rare opportunity to see the original works on paper.

Leon Miller

Captions:  details of design artwork for the 1892 Proteus parade, featuring English peas, and strawberries.   Images of items in the Louisiana Research Collection may not be republished without permission.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Costume designs for Carnival royalty

Olga Peters was a twentieth-century New Orleans artist and teacher, whose interests included ballet, choreography, ceramics, metalwork, and fashion design.  She was educated at Newcomb College and Tulane University, through a Master of Arts in 1940. In 1983, she donated her numerous and imaginative costume design drawings and paintings to Tulane University, specifically those created for the krewes of Dorians, Bards of Bohemia, and Babylon.   LaRC Manuscripts Collection 684, Olga Peters Drawings, 1927-1976, also includes typed correspondence, Carnival and social ephemera, and several  black and white photographs of the fanciful costumes being worn by the local royalty for whom they were custom-made.  

Another similar contemporary collection is Coralie Guarino Davis Costume Designs, 1953-1981 (LaRC Manuscripts Collection 723).  Featured there are drawings for krewes in New Orleans (Maids of Troy, Ancient Scribes), New Iberia (Andalusia), and Lafayette (Faed Setum).   Both collections are primarily designs for women’s gowns, but secondarily include some designs for men’s Carnival costumes.       

Caption:  from Collection 684, Box 1, Olga Peters' design drawing of a ball gown for the 1953 Queen of Dorians, accompanied by an 8x10 photograph featuring Betty Blain wearing the finished gown.  Images of items from the Louisiana Research Collection may not be republished without permission.

Posted by Susanna Powers

Friday, January 17, 2014

MLK weekend

The Schiro Reading Room will be closed Saturday, January 18-Monday, January 20, 2014, in honor of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday.

For weekend hours of the main Howard-Tilton Memorial Library building, see Library News @ Tulane.

The Reading Room resumes current daily hours on Tuesday, January 21.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Ancestry Library Edition

The Tulane community now has access to the billions of records in the Ancestry Library Edition database, from campus and remotely.    Other visitors to Special Collections have access through the public computers available in the Schiro Reading Room.  

"ProQuest has partnered with Ancestry.com to create Ancestry® Library Edition, one of the most important genealogical collections available today.  It has unparalleled coverage of the United States and the United Kingdom, including census, vital, church, court, and immigration records, as well as record collections from Canada, Europe, Australia and other areas of the world!"  --ProQuest web site.

Please note also that selected New Orleans city directories, between 1861 and 1960, are accessible on Ancestry at the present time.  We hope you have an opportunity to explore this important new resource.

Posted by Susanna Powers

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Best wishes for a harmonious holiday season, and a prosperous 2014!  

If you are planning to visit the Schiro Reading Room, our current hours are Monday-Friday 10:00-5:00, and Saturday 9:00-1:00.    On Friday, December 6, the reading room will close at 4:00 to allow the staff to attend a library event.

Special Collections will be closed December 21, 2013, through January 1, 2014, for the holidays and winter recess.    The reading room will resume its current schedule on January 2, 2014.

It is a good idea to check the hours information and exceptions on the LaRC website, before planning a visit.  Also, because of multiple construction projects on campus, parking is very problematic these days.  You may take public transportation, try to find a legal spot in the neighborhood and walk in, or see Tulane University's general parking information online.

Caption: Bob Borsodi Papers, 1959-2003, 979-1-2, image crop and full sheet.    This is an original Christmas card sent from Bob Borsodi to his parents, postmarked Santa Barbara, Calif., Dec. 14, 1966, quoting ee cummings, "love is the every only god ..."   American literary author and coffee-house proprietor Bob Borsodi (1939-2003), who moved to New Orleans in the mid-1970s, was interested in writing and promoting poetry in performance and theatrical works.  Images of items in the Louisiana Research Collection may not be re-published without permission.

Posted by Susanna Powers

Monday, November 18, 2013

Temporary Hours 10AM to 5PM

Due to temporary staffing changes, LaRC's hours will be 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday through Friday and 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM Saturdays through the end of January.

The reading room will close at 4:00 pm on Friday, Dec. 6, so that the staff can attend a library event.

Please check for Schiro Reading Room hours information and exceptions on the LaRC website.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Auld Lang Syne

When Eira Tansey joined LaRC, I reviewed the position’s responsibilities with her. I then told her that her actual job - her real job - was to use this position to gain the training, experience, and education needed to create a career, and that a career would almost certainly require eventually moving elsewhere. It is therefore with regret but great pride that I announce that Eira has accepted the position of Digital Archivist/Records Manager at the University of Cincinnati’s Archives and Rare Books Library. Her last day in LaRC is today.

Eira joined LaRC in July of 2008 and rose to overseeing LaRC’s archival program. She managed several major LaRC projects, including implementing our online inventory database and working with outsourcers to place guides to our holdings online. An active contributor to the archival profession, she has presented papers and chaired sessions at many archival conferences and serves on the Society of American Archivists Communications Task Force. She received her MLIS in 2012 and became a Certified Archivist in 2013.

Please join all of us in thanking Eira for her significant contributions to Tulane University and in wishing her the very best as she begins this exciting new phase of her career.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Messages of cheer

The 1940 census shows that Richard Ferchaud (1919-2003) of New Orleans lived with his older sister Marguerite Ferchaud (1909-1988) at 1933 Cambronne St., where she received his many letters written while in the Army during World War II.    Lt. Ferchaud served in the 3rd Armored Division's 703rd Tank Destroyer Battalion.   He was seriously wounded in France in 1944, and received a Purple Heart.  He recovered and resumed active military service.

Richard Ferchaud's correspondence to his sister back home is conversational and lighthearted.  Quite a few of the messages are in the form of "V-Mails", or “V-Letters”, a format involving photostatic reductions of handwritten notes.  Although injured himself, he expressed himself in an upbeat manner, even when describing his boredom.  

Richard Ferchaud Papers (LaRC Manuscripts Collection 167) will be a useful resource for researchers with an interest in World War II and the social styles of mid-twentieth century America.   As with most archival collections of wartime letters, sentiments of affection and courage are carefully preserved.

Captions:  August 1944 telegram sent to Marguerite Ferchaud in New Orleans, informing her of her youngest brother’s injury in France; “Messages of cheer to Army personnel” form requesting that the soldier’s emergency addressee send a five-word message of cheer to the wounded soldier.  Images of items in the Louisiana Research Collection may not be republished without permission.

Posted by Susanna Powers   

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Learning about Toole

LaRC Public Services Librarian Sean Benjamin spoke about Tulane’s John Kennedy Toole archival collection today, to a lively and receptive group.   For many of them, this was their first exposure to special library collections and archival research methods.   Katharina Keppel, of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, convened her class in the Schiro Reading Room so that her students could learn more about Toole and about this world-renowned and unique resource.   The class is called “New Orleans and John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces” (TIDE-1055-01).          

Captions: Sean Benjamin, Katharina Keppel, and class members today; a selection of archival items from the John Kennedy Toole papers, and New Orleans publications of the era.

Photographs and post by Susanna Powers

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Cats in Special Collections

Charlee LaChatte and Friends: Collecting Cats at Tulane

An exhibition highlighting books and manuscripts about cats from the Sixteenth Century to the 1960s.

Jones Hall, 2nd floor Gallery
October 2-31, 2013, 9am-5pm

Opening reception
Wednesday, October 2
5:00 PM - 6:30 PM
Light refreshments

For more information, see today's new wave.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Vatican Volunteers

The twentieth-century World’s Fair in New Orleans had its troubles, but it was certainly enjoyed by many visitors and local residents from May 12-Nov. 11, 1984.   Some of the buildings constructed for the event still stand and have been used for various purposes since that time.  A number of books about the 1984 World’s Fair are held in the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library.  One of the highlights of the fair was the New Orleans Vatican Pavilion with its memorable fine art exhibition; its official catalog was published as Treasures of the Vatican, which is in LaRC with the call number: N 6920 .T7 1984 LACOLL.

The Vatican Pavilion was a 15,000 square foot building located on the eighty-acre site of the Louisiana World Exposition, held in downtown New Orleans. The art exhibit within the Pavilion was jointly sponsored by the Archdiocese of New Orleans and the New Orleans Museum of Art.  It included religiously-themed works by the artists Caravaggio, Raphael, El Greco, Giotto, Matisse, Rouault, de la Tour, and Dali.

New Orleans native, Blanche Mouledoux Comiskey, also known as Mrs. James A. Comiskey, was in charge of planning and organizing the volunteers' orientation, parking, scheduling, dress, conduct, and overall participation in the event.   Her job title was Volunteer Coordinator.  She retained her records relating to this project and later donated them to Tulane University.

Manuscripts Collection 981 is named Blanche M. Comiskey records of the Louisiana World Exposition, 1983-1984.  This collection consists of items primarily concerning the planning process for the running of the New Orleans Vatican Pavilion, specifically the volunteers' activities and responsibilities. Included are handwritten and typed correspondence, post cards, greeting cards, notes, lists of invitees, schedules, financial documents, blank stationery, pieces of interfacing cloth printed with the Pavilion's logo, smaller swatches of cloth selected for the uniforms, color drawings of uniform designs of a vest for volunteers and an elaborate costume shirt for supervisors, a certificate, photographs, a list of the exhibited artworks, maps, floor plans, a brochure, a souvenir program and other printed items.

One of the letters from a volunteer is a letter of resignation.  Her stated reason was that she had not been aware that evangelizing would be prohibited while serving in the Pavilion. 

Captions: a post card featuring the logo of the New Orleans Vatican Pavilion, signed by Mrs. Comiskey; a colorful costume/uniform design drawing, depicting the vest for volunteers.   Images of items in LaRC archival collections may not be re-published without permission.

Posted by Susanna Powers

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Rising Tide 8 -- Sat. Sept. 14

Rising Tide is an annual conference devoted to the future of New Orleans.    Having recently reached the 8th anniversary of Katrina, it’s time for the 8th Rising Tide.     It’s being held this coming Saturday, September 14th, at Xavier University.

This year’s schedule:

Keynote: Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore.

Panel: Creating Community for Writers of Color: MelaNated Writers Collective.
     Moderator: Jarvis Q. DeBerry; Panelists: jewel bush, David Thaddeus Baker, Kelly Harris and Gian Smith.

Panel: Beyond Tourism / Beyond Recovery.
     Moderator: Charles Maldonado; Panelists: Kevin Fox Gotham, Ph.D., Brice Miller, Meg Lousteau, Robin Keegan, and Mark Romig.

Panel: Charter School Access & Accountability.
     Moderator: Scott Sternberg; Panelists: Steve Beatty, Jaimme Collins, Marta Jewson, and Aesha Rasheed.

Second Stage: Tech School.
     Panels:  Working With Bloggers; Personal Branding; Using Visual Tools in Online Promotion; Content Marketing.

For details about these events and people, see the full schedule.

We are sure to see conference organizer and emcee, Loki Williams, wearing his Google Glass.

Panel, Creating Community for Writers of Color,  
featuring jewel bush, David Thaddeus Baker, Kelly Harris and Gian Smith.

Panel photograph and post by Susanna Powers


Friday, August 30, 2013

Labor Day weekend

The Schiro Reading Room will be closed Saturday, August 31 - Monday, September 2, 2013, in observance of Labor Day.   Our normal weekly schedule resumes after this long holiday weekend.     As always, see our LaRC website for normal hours and known exceptions.

Happy Labor Day and have a prosperous semester!

Friday, August 23, 2013

8th anniversary of Katrina

Along the Gulf Coast, each year we mark August 29th as another year of progress since the storm, and we remember those who lost their lives, either directly or indirectly, because of the disaster.  Scholarly and popular publications from a variety of sources continue to be published and collected, particularly about the consequences of the disastrous flooding of New Orleans.  August 29, 2013, will be the eighth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Hundreds of books on Katrina are held in the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, many of which have copies in multiple locations (search the catalog from the library’s home page).  Another way to start finding information on Katrina is to see the research guide to freely accessible online Katrina resources.   Some of the more recent books which are held only in the Louisiana Research Collection include:

Mere NOLA / Chris Sullivan.    PS 3620 .U44 M47 2011 LACOLL

Saint Louis Armstrong Beach / Brenda Woods.     PZ 7 .W86335 Sai 2011 LACOLL

The anthology compiled by Dr. Miriam Miranda Chitiga, of Fayetteville State University (NC), is the result of her interdisciplinary work devoted to social justice.   In her introduction, she writes, “Overall, the poems in this collection offer an interesting diversity of commemorative expressions.  They reflect pain, sorrow, outcry, anger, devastation, disappointment, ambivalence, empathy, hope, expectations, resilience and commentary.”   Many of the poems were written by individuals who would not consider themselves to be poets or literary writers; they are pointed and clear, sometimes bitter in tone, sarcastic about the failures of the federal government to respond to the immediate needs of the people who were harmed in the disaster.  Taken as a group, the poems express a powerful sense of frustration and injustice.   The following brief, poignant poem was written by Shakenna Gray, of Georgia.

Is it Over?

In the aftermath
Is it over?
All worrying is gone
Hardtacks are now mended

But Confusion stays

Lost for words
Pressuring thoughts remain
Their hearts all breaking
It’s not over

 Posted by Susanna Powers