Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Louisiana Research Collection closed December 23 - January 3

The Louisiana Research Collection and the rest of the Special Collections library will be closed from December 23 through January 3. We wish everyone a happy holiday and a fantastic new year. We will reopen on Monday, January 4.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Birthday of John Kennedy Toole, Dec. 17, 1937

"As an Expression of Appreciation for Courtesies extended to the Club..." and many of us have a great appreciation of Toole, many years later.

Caption: Certificate dated Oct. 20, 1953, thanking Fortier High School student John Kennedy Toole for serving as a guest speaker at a Kiwanis Club meeting. Note signature of Joseph Dresner, brother of Jacob Dresner; their family papers are also in the Louisiana Research Collection. Please request permission for reproduction of this image.

Posted by Susanna Powers

Thursday, December 10, 2009

In the stacks with the Twins of Genius

The Louisiana Research Collection is the home of the papers of George Washington Cable, author of the Grandissimes and Old Creole Days. Recently I received a reference question from a Mark Twain scholar, and had the opportunity to delve deep into Cable's papers. I found many interesting and delightful items along the way.

The collection contains many fascinating letters between Mark Twain and George Washington Cable. Between late 1884 and early 1885, Cable and Twain embarked on a speaking tour together, and the two were billed as "the Twins of Genius".

The George Washington Cable papers includes many letters from Twain to Cable. One of the more interesting letters from Twain I found was addressed to "my Dear Nephew", however it contained an envelope scrap showing Twain's return address and the outgoing address to Cable. The letter is dated January 15, 1883. I think what charmed me most was the quote Twain ended the letter with: "When an audience do not complain, it is a compliment, and when they do it is a compliment, too, if unaccompanied by violence."


Twain and Cable had a reading in Chicago on January 17, 1885. On the second page of a letter to his wife, Cable describes the audience's reaction ('tempest of merriment') to Twain's reading of excerpts from Huck Finn, and reactions to his own work, "The Freedman's Case in Equity".


Sometimes the smallest pieces of ephemera from a person's life tell us interesting tales. While going through several of the boxes, I happened upon a small place card with George Washington Cable's name and a quote, and the initials AC at the top.


According to a note on the back of this place card, "At a dinner given by Mr. A. Carnegie to 24 literary men each found his card bearing a quotation from his own pen. These quotations had all been selected by Richard Watson Gilder while ill with rheumatism."

I have tried to locate information on this dinner, and who else may have been on the guest list of this dinner hosted by Andrew Carnegie. Please leave a comment if you may know anything about this event!

For more information about the Twins of Genius literary tour, please see this great website. We also have more information about the Cable collection here.

Posted by Eira Tansey.

(Images from the George Washington Cable collection, Manuscripts Collection 2, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University Libraries. Image may not be reproduced without permission.)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

New exhibit on the Jewish experience in Louisiana


The Southern Jewish Historical Society met in Jones Hall earlier this month. In honor of the meeting, the Louisiana Research Collection (LaRC) created an exhibit highlighting its holdings pertaining to the Jewish experience in Louisiana. The exhibit will be up through December and I’d like to invite everyone to drop by and see it.

Documenting the Louisiana Jewish experience is a special mission of LaRC. We serve as the official archives for most of the local temples, congregations, and synagogues. We also preserve the records of many area Jewish social welfare organizations, such as the Jewish Federation, the Jewish Children’s Home, and the Communal Hebrew School.

For the exhibit, Eira Tansey selected more than one hundred items from a wide range of our holdings. Among the materials on display are nineteenth-century marriage records in Hebrew from Touro Synagogue, a program from when Dr. Ralph Bunche spoke at Temple Sinai in 1949 in one of the city’s first integrated lectures, mimeographed class handouts from the Hebrew Communal School, dissertations about the state’s Jewish community from the University Archives, and a few of the seminal published works about the New Orleans Jewish community from the Louisiana book collection. The materials reflect more than one hundred and forty years of Jewish society.

The exhibit will be up through December. It’s in the Special Collections Gallery on the second floor of Jones Hall. We hope you’ll be able to stop by.


Written by Lee Miller.


(Image of marriage document from the Touro Synagogue collection, Manuscripts Collection 224, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University Libraries. Image may not be reproduced without permission.)


Thursday, October 29, 2009

The early career of Mignon Faget

Mignon Faget is best known as a jewelry designer. But when she began growing her business in the late 1960s, out of a small studio on Dublin Street in the Riverbend area of New Orleans, she designed, produced, and promoted a line of women’s clothing and accessories described as environmental fashion. Natural forms, especially sea creatures indigenous to the Gulf Coast, were among her favorite subjects, and so the belts, tunic vests and short suede dresses were increasingly adorned with likenesses of snails, sand dollars, sea urchins, and crabs, often crafted in pewter tones.

The contents of Manuscripts Collection 715, covering 1968 to 1985, were donated to our repository by Mignon Faget in 1985. This collection is composed predominantly of advertisements from that era. D.H. Holmes, Kreeger’s, and Gus Mayer were among the local retail stores placing ads the Times-Picayune depicting Mignon Faget designer fashions. Her increasing success through the years is documented, as the print ads appeared first locally (Figaro, Arts Quarterly) and then nationally (Vogue, New Yorker, Mademoiselle). The business evolved by emphasizing unique and original jewelry designs in sterling silver, gold, and gemstones, and the stores have been effectively presented as galleries.

Interestingly, in 2009, the Mignon Faget website markets not only her jewelry, but also a diversified product line including fashion accessories, made from variety of materials (fabric, leather, paper, glass), as well as a variety of decorative forms, such as the popular post-Katrina Fleur de Lis, animals, and even elements of New Orleans architecture.

The Louisiana Research Collection is greatly strengthened by individuals who intentionally donate their own papers to Tulane University for long-term preservation and research purposes, as was the case with Mignon Faget. This group also includes Art Silverman, Phyllis Hudson, LaVerne “Pike” Thomas, Catharine Brosman, William Brumfield, Joel Fletcher, Lindy Boggs, Joel Grossman Myers and Bert Myers.

Photo caption: cover of the 1983 Mignon Faget jewelry catalog. This image may not be reproduced without permission.

Posted by Susanna Powers

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

KO contribution #394

In honor of Ken Owen's upcoming retirement, here is another in a series of remembrances of his contributions to the library.

Did you know that HTML preserves one of the country's larger SciFi and Fantasy collections: We've had the collection for a couple of decades but most of it was never cataloged and to this day is not accessible on Voyager. Now, however, there is a printed SciFi & Fantasy index in the Special Collections reading room that is cross-referenced by author and title, thanks to Ken Owen.

Special Collections created an online description and exhibit about the materials several years ago in honor of Ken's work with the SciFi and Fantasy collection. To learn more about our SciFi & Fantasy collection, to view the online exhibit, and to sing along with the "Space Cadet March," click here.

Writtten by Lee Miller.


KO contribution #531

In honor of Ken Owen's upcoming retirement, here is another in a series of remembrances of his contributions to the library.

For researchers studying a wide range of New Orleans topics, Bureau of Governmental Research (BGR) reports are essential. BGR is a non-profit, citizen-supported, independent research organization dedicated to informed public policy-making and the effective use of public resources in the New Orleans Metropolitan Area. BGR also focuses on state and national public policy issues which affect the metropolitan area.

Since its founding in 1932, BGR has completed over 1,500 studies, reports or position papers in the areas of municipal finance, governmental structure, metropolitan cooperation, collective bargaining, city charter provisions, tax proposals, civil service, procurement, public bid law procedures, and other aspects of local and state government.

The reports would be difficult (if not almost impossible) to use without an index. The public library doesn't have one. Not even the BGR indexes its own reports. The only index to BGR reports exists in the Louisiana Research Collection and that index has been online since 2004, thanks to Ken Owen.

To learn more about the BGR and view the online index, click here.

Written by Lee Miller.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ken Owen contribution # 632

In honor of Ken Owen’s upcoming retirement, here is another in a series of remembrances of his contributions to the library.

Within the Louisiana Research Collection’s vertical files is an outstanding collection of art ephemera. It includes art gallery flyers, announcements, press releases, and event invitations extending from about 1910 to the present. A special strength of the collection is invitations to gallery shows. This makes it an excellent resource for discovering which artists exhibited in New Orleans.

So, suppose you’re researching an artist and would like to know which New Orleans galleries carried his work? Suppose you have the name of a New Orleans gallery and want to know which artists that gallery exhibited? How would you do that? Where would you go?

The only Louisiana library that cross references its art ephemera by gallery and artist is the Louisiana Research Collection. If you look up a particular gallery, you will find a list of the artists that exhibited in that gallery. If you look up a particular artist, you will discover which local galleries carried her work. That resource was created by Ken Owen.

To learn more about the Louisiana Research Collection’s art holdings, click here.

Written by Lee Miller.

(Image of Arts and Crafts Club Gallery Announcement, Vertical Files, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University Libraries. Image may not be reproduced without permission.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

KO contribution # 238

In honor of Ken Owen’s upcoming retirement, here is another in a series of remembrances of his contributions to the library.


Suppose you’re doing research in our ephemera collection, come across the names of one or two Louisiana politicians, and want to discover when they ran for office? How would you do that? Where would you go?


The only index of Louisiana political ephemera cross-referenced by politicians and the years they ran for office exists in the Louisiana Research Collection, thanks to Ken Owen.

But wait! There’s more! Suppose you know the year of a Louisiana election, but don’t have the specific day date? Suppose you have a flyer that says an election was held on May 9, but you don’t know which year? What would you do? Where would you go?


The only index of Louisiana political ephemera that tracks the dates of Louisiana elections and cross-references them by day and year exists in the Louisiana Research Collection, thanks to Ken Owen.


Ken’s election resource also records whether the date was a primary, second primary, special primary, or general election. For example, Ken’s index reveals that we preserve campaign ephemera for three elections held on January 17. They occurred in 1928, 1956, and 1998 and were all primary elections.


Special Collections created an online exhibit about our political ephemera several years ago to honor Ken’s work with our political holdings. To view the online exhibit and learn more about our political ephemera collection, click here.


Written by Lee Miller.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ken Owen contribution # 267 (among many)

Louisiana specialist Ken Owen is retiring from the Louisiana Research Collection at the end of this month. We are highlighting some of his (many) contributions over the next couple of weeks. -Eira Tansey

In a state internationally renowned for the poetic depth and sheer imaginative sweep of its political corruption, state inspector general’s reports carry a special significance. Ken Owen began collecting those reports for the New Orleans metro region ten years ago and the Louisiana Research Collection now has an almost complete collection for our part of the state.

Where can a researcher find an index to those reports? Not at the State Archives. Not even at the State Inspector General’s office. The only index to state inspector general’s reports exists at the Louisiana Research Collection; and, that index has been available to researchers online for several years, thanks to Ken Owen.

To learn more about state inspector generals reports and to view the online index, click here.

Written by Lee Miller

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Joel Fletcher papers open to the public

Tulane University’s Louisiana Research Collection is pleased to announce that the Joel Fletcher papers are now open to the public. Joel Fletcher, author of the book Ken and Thelma, donated his papers to Tulane University in 2006. Joel Fletcher was a friend of John Kennedy Toole, author of A Confederacy of Dunces and Thelma Ducoing Toole, John’s mother.


The papers consist of Joel Fletcher’s research files for Ken and Thelma, a book about his friendship with Ken and Thelma Toole, and how A Confederacy of Dunces came to be published. The collection contains correspondence, drafts, reviews, and supporting materials. The collection contains criticism on previous biographies of John Kennedy Toole, and Fletcher’s letters with Thelma Ducoing Toole, New Orleans author Poppy Z. Brite, University of New Orleans professor Kenneth Holditch, and friends of the Toole family.


The Louisiana Research Collection at Tulane University’s Special Collections Library also has the papers of John Kennedy Toole. The addition of Fletcher’s papers will considerably expand the scope of scholarly research on the life and works of John Kennedy Toole. The finding aid for the collection can be found at http://specialcollections.tulane.edu/archon.


Posted by Eira Tansey

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Photo opportunity

Howard-Tilton Memorial Library will host and co-sponsor a two-day Society of American Archivists workshop, Understanding Photographs, Introduction to Archival Principles and Practices. This will be held Nov. 5-6, 2009. From the workshop description:

While photographs are some of the most versatile and heavily-used resources in archives, many professionals lack any specialized training in how to deal with them effectively. This introductory workshop teaches the basics of how to manage and care for photographs. You will discover how standard archival techniques can be applied successfully to photographs in eight modules: appraising and acquiring; reading and researching; identification and handling; preservation, storage and housing; accessioning and arrangement; description and cataloging; copying; and public service and outreach.


Leon C. Miller, Head of LaRC, has made arrangements for us to host this workshop and another one early in 2010 on Encoded Archival Description. Please note that the early-bird registration deadline for the Nov. 5-6 workshop on photographs is Oct. 5. For all details, see the SAA continuing education calendar.



Posted by Susanna Powers

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A summer full of work

Every summer, we are fortunate to have several student workers on board with us. This summer, we also had two interns. Our student workers and interns are some of our greatest assets, and much of the work we do would not happen without their dedication (and willingness to humor our staff). We'd like to highlight some of their work as the fall semester begins.

Caity Mellicant is a graduate student of linguistics. Her areas of interest are currently bilingualism and language contact with a focus on East Asian languages. Caity has been a student worker at Special Collections for a few years. This summer, she scanned several volumes of the Favrot family paper transcriptions for digitization.

Kevin Fontenot is a PhD candidate finishing his dissertation, a biography on former Governor Jimmie Davis. This summer, Kevin processed the papers of Tulane professor Karlem "Ducky" Riess, author Joel Fletcher, and some letters from Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard. Kevin has spent many summers in Special Collections.

Liz Skilton is a graduate student in History. Specializing in gender and environmental history, she is currently researching the creation and impact of a hurricane culture in and around Louisiana. Like Caity and Kevin, Liz has also worked at Special Collections in summers past. This summer, Liz was a one-person scanning machine. She created more than 1,500 high resolution master scans of items from several of our major collections, such as the John Kennedy Toole collection, the George and Katherine Davis collection of Confederate photographs, the Carnival collection, and the Lindy Boggs ambassadorial papers. We plan to make many of these images available in digital exhibitions over the next year.

Maxwell Means is a senior double majoring in English and Economics with a minor in Math. Currently, Max is finishing his degree, and preparing for a run at a PhD in Economics. Max was one of our summer interns, and processed several collections and individual items. Max rehoused poet Sidney Lanier's papers, and processed the WWI letters of Louisiana native Sergeant William P. Ewell, antebellum slave owner letters, and a Civil War diary.

Lindsay Luken is a senior majoring in history. She is currently applying to law school, and hopes to pursue a career in corporate law. Lindsay was our second intern this summer, and she processed the Al Lippman collection of Civil War letters and postal covers. The correspondence collection contains several letters from Union soldiers fighting in Louisiana. The postal covers represent Union sentiment, and depict caricatures of Confederate figures such as PG.T. Beauregard and Jefferson Davis.

Posted by Eira Tansey