Friday, January 27, 2012

Krewe of Proteus Exhibit

LaRC is pleased to present a special exhibit showcasing Krewe of Proteus float and costume designs from the “Golden Age of Carnival.”

The Krewe of Proteus began in response to the growing popularity of parade organizations and float riding. Several Comus members and other carnival supporters came together, forming the Krewe of Proteus in 1881, and presenting the first parade in 1882.The Greek, shape-shifting sea god, Proteus, was chosen as the symbol for the new Krewe. Proteus was the first parade organization to have Creole membership and a Creole captain. Proteus has reliably paraded over the years, with the only exceptions being a few weather interruptions, World War I and II, and the 1992 to 2000 parading hiatus disrupting the parade schedules.

Proteus made his 1882 parade debut with the theme of “Ancient Egyptian Mythology,” which was designed by famed carnival artist Charles Briton and was considered one of the most impressive parades of its time. The parade featured Egyptian gods, architecture, and mythological scenes. Briton designed for Proteus until his death in 1884 and was replaced by the artist, Carlotta Bonnecaze.

Very little is known about Bonnecaze except that she designed exclusively for the Krewe of Proteus. In 1885, Bonnecaze’s first parade debuted as “Myths and Worships of the Chinese,” which showcased beautiful float depictions of Chinese traditions and beliefs. The following year, she designed the parade under the theme “Visions of Other Worlds,” which illustrated fantastical and imaginative interpretations of the universe. Bonnecaze created wonderful float and costume designs for Proteus until 1896.

The Swedish artist, Bror Anders Wikstrom, designed float and costume plates for Proteus from 1887 to 1909 and is one of the most prolific carnival designers. Many of his themes come from Eastern traditions and stories. In 1905, he based his designs on the Persian epic poem “The Rubyiat.” The theme in 1907 was the “Queen of Serpents” from The Arabian Nights. Both years showcase elaborate and detailed scenes from each story.

Selected images from each of the parades mentioned are available for viewing in Jones Hall, Room 205. The exhibit will be on display through May, from Monday to Friday, 9-5, and Saturday mornings, 9-1. If you have any questions or comments, please contact LaRC staff by calling 504-865-5685, by emailing, or by visiting us at Jones Hall 202 Tulane University, 6801 Freret St, New Orleans, LA 70118.

Posted by Kathryn Rumer

Proteus images, Manuscripts Collection 900 (Carnival Collection), Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University. Images may not be reproduced without permission.

Editor's note: Kathryn Rumer is an MLIS student at Louisiana State University, and LaRC's Pie Dufour Carnival intern. -E. Tansey

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Winter 2012 LaRC e-newsletter

The new issue of the LaRC e-newsletter is now available online. If you would like to receive our newsletter via e-mail, or to access earlier newsletters, please see this page in the Louisiana Research Collection website.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Henry Ginder papers, 1861-1922.

So many of the soldiers fighting on both sides of the American Civil War were killed in battle or otherwise died young. Henry Ginder of New Orleans (1831-1922) was an exception, living a long, prosperous and productive life. On the occasion of his ninetieth birthday, more than two hundred people assembled in the main Sunday School room of the Prytania Street Presbyterian Church, to express their respect and love for Mr. Ginder.

LaRC’s Manuscripts Collection 104 contains handwritten correspondence to and from Henry Ginder during the Civil War, small bound diaries, newspaper pages and clippings and other printed items, two 1873 New Orleans guidebooks, hand-drawn maps and sketches, Confederate money, financial records of the charitable Howard Association, certificates, and undated later-era typed biographical information. His letters to his first wife Mattie are extremely loving and, at the same time, very matter-of-fact and evocative of his daily experiences.

Henry Ginder worked as a jeweler, was a deacon of his congregation, and for many years served as an administrator of the Tulane Educational Fund. As the end of the nineteenth century was a time of nostalgia for Southerners, Mr. Ginder was also held in high regard because of his military service. In 1891, he must have been asked to write something about his life, and on stationery of A. B. Griswold & Co., Watches and Jewelry, he wrote the following descriptive account about himself:

New Orleans, July 7, ‘91

Born Dec. 6, 1831 in Covington, Ky.—came to N. O. when less than a year old, & have been here ever since.

Joined the Confederate Guards some time in 1861, & was on duty (giving up all business) till the city fell, -- when I went to Corinth, Miss. & joined the Crescent Regt., as private in the Co. whose captain was Mr. Helm, (lawyer), 1st Lt. Geoff Brougham, 2d Lt. W. C. Shepard. On the retreat to Tupelo was taken with Camp fever quite seriously. Upon recovery joined, as private, Fenner’s Battery, at Baton Rouge, in the fall of 1862.

We made a forced march to Pontchatoula, thence were ordered to Port Hudson.

Here ends my connection with Fenner’s Battery. At Pt. Hudson there was need of Surveyors & Engineers, & as I had had experience in that line as a former member of the U. S. Coast Survey, I was detailed to report to Capt. J. Fremeaux of the Engr. Corps. & was rated 1st Lt. of Engrs.

I assisted in building the fortifications around Pt. Hudson, -- was ordered to Vicksburg by Capt. J. H. Lockett—was there during the siege, & made prisoner of war on July 4th, 1863.

After being exchanged, I was ordered to join Capt. Jno. G. Mann, Capt. of Engineer troops under Gen. Forest. I served under him during Gen. Smith’s raid from Memphis South thro’ middle Mississippi, whence we drove him back, fighting 2 or 3 severe battles, in which we generally got the worst.

We accompanied Gen. Hood on his campaign up to Nashville, & brot up the rear in the retreat.

Our last fighting was done in following Gen. Wilson’s cavalry raid—up to the Cohawba river near Selma, Ala.

Soon after this Gen. Lee surrendered, & we were paroled as part of Gen. Taylor’s command, at Gainesville, Ala.

H. Ginder

Caption: detail of an enclosure in a wartime letter from Henry Ginder to his wife Mattie, this is a probable self-portrait pencil sketch on writing paper, stating, “Port Hudson, 1863, Weight 148 lbs.” Please do not reproduce without permission.

Posted by Susanna Powers