Thursday, March 19, 2015

LaRC books-- Elysian Fields

LaFlaur, Mark Gregory, 1958-
Elysian Fields / Mark LaFlaur.
Kew Gardens, NY : Mid-City Books, [2013]

Howard-Tilton Stacks
PS3613.A3755 E46 2013

Jones Hall Louisiana Research Collection
PS3613.A3755 E46 2013 LACOLL

Reviewers of Mark LaFlaur's award-winning first novel, Elysian Fields, often comment that the writing is reminiscent of various great twentieth-century Southern authors. Certainly the characters, places, subject matter, dialog, and colorful description come out of this rich tradition.  But, other than having New Orleans in common, how could Walker Percy and John Kennedy Toole possibly intersect?   Elysian Fields is not so philosophical or so hilarious.  But, although the author's preliminary disclaimer states that "any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely imaginary or coincidental," he does happen to mention the 55 Elysian Fields bus, the McKenzies bakery shop near Gentilly Blvd., Dillard University, K&B (the old name sticks even in 1999) and a number of other reality-based names found in the general zip code of 70122.  Probably only ten percent of the geographic names in this novel are fictional, but they all sound like they would fit right in.  The sense of extreme localized place is very strong.

Another feature of the novel is the nuclear family as main character.  The members of the four-person Weems family share the lead role, although the father has been dead for over ten years.   Time shifts around fluidly along with the thoughts of the elder son, Simpson, a poet who was born a generation or two late.   Fortunately for readers of this novel, this particular slice-of-life does have a definite plot and multiple recurring themes.  

The LACOLL copy  of this book is accessible in the Schiro Reading Room, but there is also a circulating copy in the main Howard-Tilton stacks.

corner of Elysian Fields and Gentilly Blvd. in March 2015

Post and photos by Susanna Powers

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Discoveries in Jones Hall-- 1929 reports from the Cotton Belt

New Orleans journalist A. J. Mann

A. J. Mann (born 1888 or 1889) was a reporter specializing in the New Orleans cotton trade and cotton and ramie growing in the Southern States. He worked at a desk in the Cotton Exchange for the New Orleans daily states, and later sent writings on the cotton trade, Southern weather, and agricultural growing conditions to New York for publication in the Wall Street journal. He and his wife, Barbara, lived for many years on Eleonore St. in uptown New Orleans, from the 1920s through the 1960s. He identified himself as the manager of the New Orleans Cotton News Bureau.

LaRC Manuscripts Collection 268 (A. J. Mann papers, 1917-1952) consists of his professional and collected papers, donated in 1967. Included are typed letters received, as well as outgoing carbons of his responses, a post card, partially printed personal tax documents covering 1926 and 1927, statistical charts about cotton production and acreage, photographs, journal issues, reports, drafts of columns, telegrams, newspaper clippings such as his own published columns, and other printed items. A. J. Mann's columns address the economic response to the Stock Market Crash of late 1929 and its ongoing effects on the cotton trade in New Orleans, agricultural finances across Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina, and the American economy generally. Correspondents represented are Texas cotton traders W. B. Ray & Co. and other businesses, Dow, Jones & Co., the Shreveport times, and the Wall Street journal. 

This collection, which will be of interest to historical researchers in economics, agriculture, journalism, and communications, was almost completely undocumented and physically located inside the last box of the sequentially previous collection on the shelf.  This week, it has been re-housed in a separate box, cataloged for WorldCat and Voyager, and represented in our finding-aid database. 

Posted by Susanna Powers

Thursday, March 5, 2015

2015 LHA annual meeting in Lafayette

LaRC Public Services Librarian Sean Benjamin giving his presentation at the first session of the Louisiana Historical Association annual meeting, March 5, 2015. 

The 57th annual meeting of the Louisiana Historical Association is being held March 5-7, 2015, at the Ramada Lafayette Conference Center in Lafayette, Louisiana.  LaRC Department Head, Leon Miller, chaired a lively and successful session, "Archival Innovation in Access, Reference, and Teaching."  Presentations were given by Sally K. Reeves of the Office of the Clerk of Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans; Trish Nugent and Elizabeth Kelly of Loyola University; and Sean Benjamin of Tulane University's Louisiana Research Collection.

Sean's talk described "Too Much of a Good Thing: Managing Archival Reference Overload."  The audience responded warmly to hearing of the advances and challenges in providing access services to the public, and the discussion went past the scheduled time.

Tulane History Dept. graduate student and LaRC assistant, Alix Riviere, delivers her paper, "Enslaved Children and Race Relations in Antebellum Virginia and Louisiana," March 6, 2015.   Alongside Alix on the panel are Gregory K. Weimer of Florida International University and Andrew N. Wegmann, Louisiana State University. 

Photo and post by Susanna Powers