Friday, May 23, 2014

Memorial Day

Above is a translation and transcription of an unattributed wartime letter, written in French,
presumably by a member of the American de Marigny family of New Orleans, during World War I. 
 These documents are in the de Marigny family papers, LaRC Manuscripts Collection 416, Box 1, Folder 4.
The French original in the collection is itself a handwritten copy.
Text of the letter's typed translation, from French into English:

I am returning from the trenches/ where I suffered greatly/ I remained 48/ hours in muddy water/ up to my stomach, under a/ very violent firing from German cannons/ For a rest,/ we stay in the cellars/ of a ruined village,/ bombarded night and day./  Dead bodies everywhere a/ stench, it's a little like hell, nevertheless/ our troops an excellent morale,/ nothing seems to affect them.  This was/ is a massacre with/ all the refinements of/ cruelty that human intelligence/ has been able to discover./  The flooded lands where/ we have worked are/ a frightening picture/ of desolation/ here and there/ - some ruins emerge from the water/ everywhere are half-sunken dead bodies which the pigs and crows/ fight over all day./  Along with that the continual rain/ and the freezing sea wind/, all full of sand/ which sticks to one's lips/ and makes one thirsty. - Fatigue/ and lack of everything/ make us sluggish/.  One finally can not suffer/ because one has suffered too much.-/  The men never complain/ they are heroes/ the Germans moreover are in worse/ shape than we - this is what consoles us./  The food provisioning/ is done/ perfectly and we are/ never hungry.

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

Posted by Susanna Powers

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Civil Rights and the First Unitarian Church of New Orleans

The Louisiana Research Collection has recently acquired the records of the First Unitarian Church of New Orleans. Among First Church’s records are the papers of Reverend Albert D’Orlando, who was a vocal Civil Rights activist in the 1960s. Reverend D’Orlando was especially active in the fight for the integration of New Orleans public schools. Below is a letter co-authored by Rev. D’Orlando and Charles Foster, the president of the church’s Board of Trustees, which describes the church’s the efforts  to support the families of children attending integrated schools, as well as teachers and protesters during this turbulent period in New Orleans’s history. 

January 4, 1961
Dear Friends,
                Brotherhood itself is on trial today in New Orleans. At stake here is the future course of integration itself; for, it is clear that New Orleans will mark the turning point for or against further implementation of the Supreme Court Decision.
                We are grateful to Unitarians everywhere who have written us words of encouragement in recent weeks. Your interest and concern have given us new courage in continuing to grapple as we have for many years, with a problem that has many ramifications.
                You will be glad to know that from the very beginning, The First Unitarian Church of  New Orleans has been very much involved in this situation. Ours is the only church in the city to have issued a public statement in support of integrated schools. Moreover, although some voices (a few clergymen, some businessmen, part of the faculty at Tulane University, and an independent group of parents) have urge d compliance with the Supreme Court Decision, our church is the only voice insisting that beyond the legal aspects of the problem the issue is one that must also be solved on ethical and moral grounds.
                On the level of direct participation, many of our members have made outstanding contributions: some are in positions of responsibility with the S.O.S. (Save Our Schools); others provided transportation to children attending integrated schools, until this function was assumed by the Federal Marshalls; and two of our members now face prosecution (one is charged with criminal anarchy) for having initiated and led a group in the first down-town “sit-ins”.
                We are now entering a period when Unitarians everywhere can give expression to their long cherished ideals. This is a time of great tension for New Orleanians; it is marked by a constant increase in threats, intimidation, vandalism and economic pressure on many families, particularly on those who continue to send their children to integrated schools. Meanwhile, a legislature that is almost hysterically passing new segregation was, has now appointed a Committee on Un-American Activities to investigate any person who speaks out for integration.
                The pressing need here is for funds which will enable us to keep alive and active the battle for integration. We must be in a position to do several things, such as; to encourage parents who have not withdrawn their children from school, by helping them through periods of economic reprisal when they lose their jobs and have their homes vandalized; to support teachers of integrated schools who are not receiving their salaries and to encourage other teachers who face the possibility of dismissal because of their views on the subject; to provide legal counsel for persons facing prosecution because of having been outspoken or active in bringing about integration; and, to embark on a program of education designed to relieve tension and to strengthen those democratic ideals that are now being undermined.
                To meet these needs, our Congregation already has established a Special Fund, and invites contributions to it by all Unitarians. This will be welcome news to many individuals who have asked us to suggest ways in which they might help. We believe that many other members and friends of your church will be glad for an opportunity to take direct and effective action by contributing to this project, and we would appreciate it if you would pass this information on to them as soon as possible that our progress may be more quickly implemented.
                We will report to you on our progress and needs, and at the end you will receive a full report on how the money will have been distributed.  Meanwhile if there should be any balance remaining at that time, this will be divided equally between the United Unitarian Appeal and the Unitarian Service Committee.
                . . . .
                                                                                                                Charles Foster, President
                                                                                                                Albert D’Orlando, Minister

A small portion of the First Church’s records are currently available for research. The finding aid can be viewed here. The remainder of the collection will be available within the next 2-3 months, after it has been fully processed. 
Samantha Bruner has joined LaRC as our Archives Processing and Digital Initiatives Associate.

Samantha is a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Information. At the iSchool, she focused her studies on archival management and digital preservation. In Austin she gained experience in a variety of archival environments, including the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary Archives, the George Bush Library and Museum, and the Archive of Indigenous Languages of Latin America. Samantha also served on the board of UT Austin’s chapter of the Society of American Archivists, and helped organize Archives Week, monthly repository tours, and other events.

In 2010, Samantha graduated from Tulane University with a Master of Arts in English Literature. During her time at Tulane, Samantha began working for the Hogan Jazz Archive, where she found her calling as an archivist. After graduating, she taught elementary level English in Japan before enrolling in UT Austin’s archival program. Samantha’s scholarly interests include literary studies, New Orleans history, LGBT history and social justice, digital preservation, and exhibit curation.
Please join us in welcoming Samantha to LaRC.

Monday, May 12, 2014

More about a literary tour featured an article by Chelsea Brasted which briefly describes the upcoming bus tour about John Kennedy Toole's New Orleans.

"John Kennedy Toole-themed bus tour will highlight sites, uncover documents of enigmatic author."

The day of the event (Saturday, June 7, 2014) will begin and end in Baton Rouge, although plans are being finalized for a New Orleans pick-up location.   The tour organizer and authoritative guide will be Cory MacLauchlin, the author of Butterfly in the Typewriter, a beautifully readable biography of John Kennedy Toole.

John Kennedy Toole papers, LaRC Manuscript Collection 740, is held by the Louisiana Research Collection, located in Jones Hall on the Tulane University campus.   The tour includes a stop at Jones Hall in the late morning.

Posted by Susanna Powers

PLEASE NOTE:  As of May 27, the June 7, 2014 tour has been CANCELLED.    It may be re-planned in the future.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Preservation and access

Howard-Tilton Memorial Library
Tulane University
New Orleans, 15, Louisiana

                                        December 19, 1946
Miss Marie Delavigne
2524 Columbus St.
New Orleans 19, La.

My dear Miss Delavigne:

                    Miss Renshaw has called to my attention the two fine and very interesting old documents which you have so kindly donated to the library.  I want to assure you of our very sincere thanks for your kindness and of our pleasure in being able to add this interesting information to our growing Archives Section.

                    As you may know, we are now enlarging our collecting enterprises in the manuscript field, and we are anxious to do what we can to assist in the preservation of valuable original documents relating to this region and to facilitate the access which reputable and qualified scholars need to get to this material.  This is of course not a new activity of this library, but we hope that its renewed emphasis may result in the proper preservation within the state limits of many valuable but fragile items.

                    With cordial good wishes of the season,  I remain

                                                                                        Yours gratefully and sincerely,

                                                                                        Garland F. Taylor

The Howard-Tilton Memorial Library has long been the recipient of generous archival donations.  The library organization and collection development policies have evolved, and the technologies have of course advanced, but this 1946 thank-you note from Librarian Garland F. Taylor, to local donor Marie Odile Delavigne, specifically recognizes the basic missions of preservation and access.  In 1950, she donated a larger collection of family documents, now held in the Louisiana Research Collection as Manuscripts Collection 502 (Delavigne family papers, 1803-1946), largely consisting of handwritten French-language correspondence.

Posted by Susanna Powers

Upcoming May closures

Please note that the Schiro Reading Room will be closed Saturday-Monday (May 24-26, 2014) for Memorial Day, as well as Thursday-Saturday (May 29-31, 2014) for the Society of Southwest Archivists annual meeting.

Regular reading room hours are Monday-Friday 10:00-5:00, and Saturday 9:00-1:00.   Saturday hours will change to 10:00-1:00 on May 17.  It is a good idea to consult the hours page on the LaRC website, for changes and exceptions, whenever planning a visit.