Thursday, February 28, 2013

William Beer, New Orleans Librarian


LaRC is pleased to announce that the guide to the William Beer papers is now available online. The collection includes Beer's correspondence with many well-known authors of New Orleans literature including George Washington Cable, Grace King, Charles Gayarre, Mary Ashley Townsend and Ruth McEnery Stuart.

William Beer was librarian of Tulane's Howard Library and the first librarian of the New Orleans Public Library.  Originally from England, New Orleans became his permanent home as he spent his life travelling the world acquiring rare books and manuscripts for the library.  Through his efforts, the library became a leading repository of rare books, maps and manuscripts.  These materials can still be found in Tulane's Louisiana Research Collection.  Beer played an integral role in the opening of the first free and public library in New Orleans, the New Orleans Public Library.  He acted as both director and librarian of NOPL from 1896-1906.  In addition to his role at the public library, Beer kept his position as the librarian of the Howard Library.

Beer was an avid bibliophile and spent much of his time writing bibliographical notes concerning Louisiana and New Orleans.  He published a short pamphlet of bibliographical notes titled, "Contributions to Louisiana History."  Active in numerous social organizations and frequently mentioned in the social columns of many newspapers in New Orleans, he quickly befriended the literati of New Orleans.

Special thanks to our intern, Remesia Shields, who created the William Beer finding aid, and helped write this post.

(Image: Portrait of William Beer. Images from the William Beer papers, Manuscripts Collection 18, Louisiana Research Collection, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana. Images may not be reproduced without permission.)

Posted by Eira Tansey.