Tuesday, December 13, 2016


A Bright and Merry Xmas

Caption: a holiday greeting post card, postmarked Dec. 8, 1905, in Cuba, received in New Orleans on Dec. 23, 1905, addressed to Mrs. W. T. Hogg, #2854 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, La., E.U. de A., from Max.    Hogg family post cards, Coll. 608, Box 1, Folder 1.   Images of items held in the Louisiana Research Collection may not be re-published without permission.

Posted by Susanna Powers

Friday, December 9, 2016


The Arts Council is currently sponsoring a festival (annual through the New Orleans tri-centennial year, 2018) called LUNA Fete --  “Light Up NOLA Arts.”   This is described as “the Arts Council’s experiential community-wide event that unfolds over the course of a week,” this year, December 7 – 10.   Light shows and other visually bright art installations are sponsored by numerous businesses, foundations, and other community partners, for the purpose of advancing the arts and advancing tourism.   

A similar idea was proposed in the 1970s by the Vieux Carre Commission, and supported by Mayor Moon Landrieu, called the Sound and Light Project, inspired by the European “son et lumiere” productions.  It involved a year-round nightly sound and light show in Jackson Square for the tourists’ education about the history of New Orleans.   This project was rejected for a variety of legitimate reasons, including noise, taste, and expense, and in retrospect possibly the overzealous scope of doing the shows every day all year.  Possibly too, the new emphasis on light (combined with much more advanced 21st-century technology), rather than both sound and light, has helped the LUNA Fete be received more favorably.

To gain a better understanding of those different times in New Orleans, in the not-so-distant past, LaRC preserves resources such as the records of organizations active during that era.    At least two of the archival collections hold specific information on the proposed Sound and Light Project of the 1970s:

Vieux Carre organizations records, 1940s-1988 (bulk 1970s), Manuscripts Collection 804.

Scott Wilson papers, 1921-1978, Manuscripts Collection 233.

Numerous other LaRC archival collections and books deal with the mid-20th-century efforts of local individuals and organizations to preserve the quality of the French Quarter and downtown, while also trying to build the tourism industry in the city.   Researching these topics is also supported by accessing digital archives of the Times-Picayune, such as the article, “Casting a Pall on Sound, Light” by Frank Gagnard, April 29, 1973, section 2, page 12.   

Posted by Susanna Powers

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Views of old Cuba

LaRC Manuscripts Collection 610 is a small group of personal papers of Charles O. Thomas and his son, Charles O. Thomas, Jr., which feature descriptions and photographic views of Cuba at the end of the nineteenth century.  Included are numerous photographs of buildings and street scenes in Cuba, especially Matanzas and Havana, as well as typed and handwritten captions and descriptive text about Cuba. Also included are photographs relating to the 1898 Spanish-American War and the military activities of Charles O. Thomas, Jr.  One photograph depicts a cemetery in Cuba with a marker declaring "Victims of the Maine."

Charles Oscar Thomas (1838-1905) was an American businessman who ran flour mills; letterhead stationery in this collection is printed with heading, "Chas. O. Thomas, Gen'l Manager, Havana Flour Co., Importers, 73 Zulueta Street, Havana, Cuba." Charles Oscar Thomas, Jr. (1871-1966) served in the U.S. Army during the Spanish-American War.   

This collection will be of interest to students of U.S. and Caribbean history and economic relations, as well as to photography appreciators. 

Caption:  (you have to look for the horses)   "Matanzas, Cuba, May 10, 1899 ... This picture represents two native horses, covered over with a load of green corn forage going to market; this is the way it is brought to the market and sold in small quantities from house to house."    Manuscripts Collection 610, Box 1, Folder 3.    Images of items held in the Louisiana Research Collection may not be re-published without permission.

Posted by Susanna Powers

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Nouveau jardinier de la Louisiane

In 1971, Mrs. B. Stanley Nelson (Mary Hutson) of New Orleans donated some of her father's papers to Tulane University.  Charles W. Hutson (1840-1936) had been a literature professor, author, and artist at Louisiana State University during Reconstruction, who later settled in New Orleans.

LaRC Manuscripts Collection 563 is made up of Charles Hutson's draft typescript translation from French into English of the bulk of J. F. Lelièvre's 1838 work, Nouveau jardinier de la Louisiane, plus handwritten notes and newspaper clippings. The only dated item in the collection is a newspaper clipping from 1921. The text describes plant species most successfully grown in Louisiana in the early 19th century, covering both ornamental and edible plants.

Having access to the books of the Louisiana Research Collection, preliminary research quickly turned up the original 1838 book in French, as well as an elegant, different translation of it into English, published in the 21st century by Sally Kittredge Reeves, titled Jacques-Felix Lelièvre's New Louisiana gardener.

Edible plants described include garlic, peanuts, goosefoot, artichokes, asparagus, eggplant, beets, bredes, carrots, celery, chervil, mushrooms, endive, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, scallions, chives, gourds, cucumber, garden cress, watercress, shallots, spinach, kidney beans, broad beans, strawberries, beans, lettuce, lentils, corn salad, melons, eggplant, mustard, turnips, onions, sorrel, parsnips, sweet potatoes, parsley, bloodwort, leeks, peas, potatoes, peppers, radishes, wild rocket, salsify, scorzonera, escarole, tomato, and jerusalem artichoke.  Calendars and growing instructions are given, with a smaller section on ornamental flowering plants.

A brief sample of the three sources, comparing one plant, shows slight differences in translation.

1838:    Arroche, (BELLE DAME)  Semer en fevrier ou mars, septembre et octobre; toute espece de terrain lui convient; arroser si la terre est seche.  Les feuilles de cette plante servent a adoucir l'oseille, soit dans les soupes, soit dans les farces; elles sont encore employees dans le gombo aux herbes.

[1920s]   GOOSE FOOT (MOUNTAIN SPINACH)   Sow in February or March, September and October; every kind of ground suits it; water if the earth is dry.  The leaves of this plant serve to sweeten sorred [sorrel], whether in soups or in stuffings; they are also employed in herb-gumbo.

2001:  GOOSEFOOT (BEAUTIFUL LADY)   [Fr. Arroche; Lat. Atriplex hortensis L.]  Sow in February or March, September and October; all kinds of ground suit it; water if the ground is dry.  The leaves of this plant serve to sweeten sorrel, whether in soup or in stuffings; they are also used in gumbo z'herbes.

Comparison of different works over time and in different formats is made possible by the unique collections of LaRC.

Posted by Susanna Powers

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Discoveries in Jones Hall-- the perspective of Margaret Woodrow Wilson

LaRC Manuscripts Collection 519 holds letters written to Lucy and Mary Smith of New Orleans by close friends who were members of President Woodrow Wilson's family.  The Wilsons met the Smiths at a summer resort in Virginia, early in the twentieth century. Although not biologically related, in these letters they jokingly call each other cousins.  Lucy R. Smith (born around 1864) and her sister Mary R. Smith (around 1868-1943) lived for many years at 1468 Henry Clay Ave. in New Orleans.

 Letter authors represented include Edith Wilson, Jessie Wilson Sayre, Ray Stannard Baker, Francis B. Sayre, and President Wilson's daughter, Margaret Woodrow Wilson (1886-1944).   Most notable are the early 1940s letters written by Margaret from Pondicherry, India, where she lived at the religious community, Sri Aurobindo Ashram.   In one of these letters to Lucy and Mary Smith, she philosophically reflects on memories of New Orleans, racial issues, and World War II, sending love and spiritual inspiration back to America.

                                                                                                Sri Aurobindo Asram Pondicherry

Precious, precious Smithies,
                How could I have let so long a time go by without sending you even a line!  You see, I am the same old procrastinator as ever!  Sometimes I wonder how much it is possible to improve in one life when I see all my faults sticking to me like flies!  For a long time it was indeed excusable on my part to put off my correspondence for I was sick for many months and recuperating for many more but all that is long past and still I let days and months go by without writing to those I love in America.  But, darlings, I do love you and there are still so many vivid memories of you and our life together that float into my mind like beautiful iridescent birds across this tropical blue sky.  The other day I saw a flock of intensely green parakeets fly in formation like aeroplanes across the bluest of blue skies and my heart actually stopped beating for a moment so startling was that flash of beauty.  Well, pictures of you and all of us together in Virginia, in Princeton, in The White House, flash across my “inward eye” in just such a way, making past joy alive again in one breathless moment.  In fact past joy is not ever really past and gone, is it?  Isn’t it there at all times within us, forming part of the richness of our present life, part of the pattern that Nature weaves within our consciousness to please the Spirit within her?

                This town still recalls New Orleans to me often and, of course, you with it.  This combination of old France and India is fascinating—I never tire of it and hate to see the new apartment houses going up.  I look at the bare-footed peasant women, walking so straight with their brass water pots on their heads and feast my eyes, knowing full well that I am gazing on forms of beauty that must pass.   All the Hindu women still insist on wearing their saris, at least here they do, even to do physical labour in and I am told that in Northern India the women play tennis and very well in their long saris!  I wear a sari in the evenings, and a lovely evening dress it makes, but I wear my little short American dresses in the daytime, feeling very awkward in comparison to the graceful Hindu women but a darn sight more comfortable and cooler.  The Hindu women, who are the results of marriage with the French, wear European costumes and lose thereby all their distinctive charm—or is it because they are not one thing or the other that they seem so awkward.  We call them Creoles here but the French resent that name being used for the metisses, as I think they call them, because they say Creole means only someone of another nationality born in a foreign country or born in a family that was originally born on foreign soil.  Is that the distinction made in New Orleans?  I thought there the term was used to describe the mixture between French and Spaniard or French and American in New Orleans.  Perhaps the sensitiveness here on that point is due to the sense of superiority on the part of the whites over the coloured races, even the wonderful Hindu race, just as the New Orleans people resent the term being used in connection with those who have Negro and French blood in them.  I am surprised that is is so here for the French have always intermarried with the natives of their colonies without losing caste.  Here it seems they do if they marry Hindus.  Isn’t it extraordinary that the White people can keep that sense of superiority in the face of such a superior race as is the Hindu race?  Why, in some ways they are much, much superior to us!  I feel in their presence that I and my people are crude, as is something new and half baked in the presence of mellowness and age long refinement.  Their culture goes so much deeper than ours.  In fact in their presence I hesitate to call our America culture, culture at all.  You remember Mother used to say that American culture was skin deep compared with English culture?  Well, it is only as deep as the first thin layer of skin compared to the culture of Asia, especially that of India.  And if you could see a lot of these people you would not find it possible to believe the fiction that they are a decadent nation.  Their present state is certainly not equal to their ancient but the culture and the intelligence that created ancient India is still here, deep in their consciousness, and in those who have half a chance at a decent education it flowers out, as of old.  It is now very evidently a renascent nation and as such will play a very great part in the future of this world that this terrible war is clearing the way for.

                It is horrible, is it not, to see another world war and a far worse one than the last, but if we have faith in a Divine Purpose we must believe that it will be fulfilled and that even war and destruction can prepare the souls of men for a next step upward in our spiritual development.  But what faith it does demand of us to see so much that is beautiful and from our point of view worthy of preservation, even important to the future of mankind such as the gifts of youth extinguished in colossal slaughter and destruction.  If we did not believe in the immortality of man and the Universality and Omnipresence of God we could not bear such a spectacle without despairing of the future of the world, could we?

                Dear, dear ones, I hope and pray that you are both well now and that your faith gives you inner peace in the midst of all this suffering.  I believe it does, for is is so strong and pure, so selfless.  I do not know of anyone about whom I feel more at peace than about you because I know your faith and what an ever present refuge it is for you.  As I love our Presbyterian benediction I shall utter it now as a prayer for you both—“May the Lord cause His Face to shine upon you and give you Peace.”

                I love, love you both with a deep and tender love

                                                                                Devotedly yours,    Margaret

October 23rd 1942.

My favorite memory of you is of the three of you sitting together, Mother and Cousin Lucy sewing, and Cousin Mary reading aloud, in a warm sunny room in winter ….        under this in summer.      M.W.

Caption: three-page 1942 letter by Margaret Wilson to Lucy and Mary Smith,  Manuscripts Collection 519, Box 1, folder 3, Lucy and Mary Smith letters from the Woodrow Wilson family.  Images of items held in the Louisiana Research Collection may not be re-published without permission.

Posted by Susanna Powers

Friday, September 23, 2016

Lester family babies

LaRC Manuscripts Collection 518 is a grouping of family papers (1869-1944) from the Lester family of Binghamton, N.Y.    It is made up of numerous family photographs, predominantly formal individual portraits but also travel photographs, post cards, death announcements, a wedding invitation and other items of social ephemera. Most items are mounted in a large ornate bound album, and a few twentieth-century photographs are in envelopes.  Most of the mounted photographs are uncaptioned, so not a great deal is known about the identity of individuals, but funeral notices show that Herbert W. Lester died Nov. 26, 1894 (aged 20 years), and Richard W. Lester died April 20, 1895 (aged 51 years). Photographs were made in studios in various places including Binghamton, Chicago, and Milwaukee.

The elegant album primarily highlights the family's adults and a few children or small groups, but the creative arranger of the volume organized a double page to feature babies.

Caption:  Lester family papers, (Manuscripts Collection 518) Box 1.   Images of items held in the Louisiana Research Collection may not be re-published without permission.

Posted by Susanna Powers

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Art and recipes-- Howard Mitcham's fish

James Howard Mitcham (1917-1996), a native of Mississippi, was an author, artist, gallery owner, and gourmet cook, best known for his cookbooks which specialize in seafood. He lived at different times in Greenwich Village, Provincetown Mass., the Gulf Coast, and New Orleans.  He has been described as a French Quarter bohemian and a Renaissance man.  His stationery described him as the Creole seafood gourmet.  Howard Mitcham donated his papers to Tulane in 1977.

The Louisiana Research Collection holds both the author's manuscript (LaRC Manuscripts Collection 483) and the resulting published book, Fishing on the Gulf Coast (New Orleans, Hermit Crab Press, 1959), SH 464 .S6M5 LACOLL.  The archival collection primarily consists of an edited page proof for Fishing on the Gulf Coast, which was intended as a casual guidebook to catching and cooking fish from the Gulf waters off Louisiana and Mississippi. The text is witty and has been illustrated by the author.   Prints of his own woodblock and drawn artwork depicting different kinds of fish, and hand-drawn fishing maps are included in the collection, as well as a handwritten letter and a business card.

These works will be of interest to researchers in art, writing, publishing, fishing, the Gulf Coast, Southern foodways and New Orleans cooking.

Captions: artwork depicting redfish and speckled trout, accompanied by recipes; archival items with the completed 1959 booklet.   Manuscripts Collection 483, all folder 2; two copies of the book are in LACOLL.  Images of items held in the Louisiana Research Collection may not be re-published without permission.

Posted by Susanna Powers

Monday, August 15, 2016

August brings flooding

This weekend's devastating flooding in south Louisiana, to the west of New Orleans, has left at least seven people dead and thousands of homes and businesses damaged.   Today's Times-Picayune leads with the story of residents of Baker, Louisiana, who needed to evacuate their home because of the current flooding.  

August 29, 2016, will be the eleventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

Tulane University and Howard-Tilton Memorial Library collect historical and creative works relating to Hurricane Katrina.  The library catalog lists 799 items (subject keyword search for phrase hurricane katrina) across Howard-Tilton stacks, Louisiana Research Collection, Hogan Jazz Archive, Rare Books, Government Documents, Music & Media, Vorhoff Library, Architecture Library, Amistad Research Center, Rudolph Matas Library of the Health Sciences, and through the internet.

Archival collections in LaRC which contain items dealing with historic Louisiana flooding, flood damage prevention, and flood control, are listed here.

Posted by Susanna Powers

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A familiar old mansion

LaRC Manuscripts Collection 394 (K. W. Pedersen photograph collection) contains images of the McFadden House in New Orleans, photographed by Charles L. Franck and associates, and collected by gardener K. W. Pedersen. Included are numerous monochrome photographs of the gardens of the estate, as well as the opulent interior of the mansion. Several are large panoramic prints, emphasizing the expansive grounds and gardens. All are undated but were made between 1919 and 1955.

Kristian Vilhelm Gumme Pedersen (1896-1981), born in Jordlose, Denmark, came to the United States in 1921 and was naturalized in 1925. Later he used Wilhelm or William as a middle name. He worked for many years as a gardener at City Park (the location of the McFadden mansion), and later as head gardener at Tulane University until his retirement in 1961, when he returned to Denmark.

Charles L. Franck and associates had a photographic studio at 409 Baronne Street.   Franck was active in this business until 1955; per the rubber stamped information on the verso of the prints, these were "photographs from Chas. L. Franck," or "Progress Photographs," perhaps indicating that the date of these photographs may have been in the late 1930s or early 1940s, while the WPA was active. 

The mansion was built in 1909, and bought by the McFaddens in 1919, as a vacation home-- somewhere to stay while visiting town for Mardi Gras.   In 1960, the Christian Brothers School opened in the historic house.

This collection will be of interest to individuals researching garden design, architecture, home furnishings, photography, City Park, and New Orleans history.

Captions: a panoramic shot of the McFadden House and surrounding landscape; a photograph of the interior of the McFadden mansion, complete with wall-to-wall bear skin rugs and other hunting souvenirs.   LaRC Manuscripts Collection 394, Box 1.

Posted by Susanna Powers    

Friday, July 1, 2016

LaRC books-- 2016 imprints

The Louisiana Research Collection is well known for its older, deep archives and monographs.  But the collections continuously grow over time, up to and including the present year, representing publications which are creative literary works, as well as works resulting from research in various disciplines.   The following is a selection of 2016 imprints which are already cataloged and accessible in the Schiro Reading Room (many of these also have circulating copies in the main Howard-Tilton stacks).  More books are on order and in process at all times.   To discover details about these and other new books in LaRC, you can search the Classic Catalog.

Afton Villa : the birth and rebirth of a nineteenth-century Louisiana garden /
    • Call Number: SB466.U7 A388 2016

The amazing crawfish boat /
    • Call Number: SH380.92.U55 L38 2016

Bloody Mary's guide to hauntings, horrors, and dancing with the dead : true stories from the voodoo queen of New Orleans /
    • Call Number: BL2490 .B585 2016

Bright stranger : poems /
    • Call Number: PS3569.O65396 A6 2016

Building the land of dreams : New Orleans and the transformation of early America /
    • Call Number: F379.N557 F33 2016

The case for alternative teacher certificaton /
    • Call Number: LB1771 .S56 2016

The cotton kings : capitalism and corruption in turn-of-the-century New York and New Orleans /
    • Call Number: HD9075 .B35 2016

Dark bayou : infamous Louisiana homicides /
    • Call Number: HV6533.L8 G38 2016

Farewell to an angel : it all began in Old New Orleans /
    • Call Number: CT237 .H36 2016

The feathered bone /
    • Call Number: PS3603.A597 F43 2016

Freedom in Congo Square /
    • Call Number: F379.N57 C669 2016

Fundamentals of Louisiana notarial law and practice : the Louisiana notary public examination official study guide /
    • Call Number: KFL526.N6 J46 2016

Hear dat New Orleans : a guide to the rich musical heritage and lively current scene /
    • Call Number: ML3477.8.N44 M87 2016

Legendary locals of Shreveport, Louisiana /
    • Call Number: F379.S4 J649 2016

Legendary Louisiana outlaws : the villains and heroes of folk justice /
    • Call Number: F374 .L45 2016
The modernist architecture of Samuel G. and William B. Wiener
    • Call Number: NA737.W522 K56 2016

My mother's house : a memoir /
    • Call Number: PS3601.R55 Z46 2016

New Orleans noir : the classics /
    • Call Number: PS648.N64 N49 2016

New Orleans rhythm and blues after Katrina : music, magic and myth /
    • Call Number: ML3521 .U58 2016

New Orleans women and the Poydras Home : more durable than marble /
    • Call Number: HV99.N42 P687 2016

Rebuilding community after Katrina : transformative education in the New Orleans planning initiative /
    • Call Number: HN80.N45 R43 2016

Rigging a Chevy into a time machine and other ways to escape a plague : poems /
    • Call Number: PS3608.E473 R54 2016

Seat yourself : the best of South Louisiana's local diners, lunch houses, and roadside stops /
    • Call Number: TX907.3.L8 C66 2016

The story of French New Orleans : history of a creole city /
    • Call Number: F379.N557 G84 2016


Posted by Susanna Powers

Friday, June 10, 2016

Knolle family papers

LaRC Manuscripts Collection 370, Knolle family papers, 1892-1971, contains personal papers of members of the Knolle family and allied families of New Orleans.  Items in the collection are a sample of keepsakes such as handwritten correspondence, post cards, greeting cards, certificates, school papers, programs, a banquet menu, receipts, poems, essays, tickets, invitations, autographs of school friends, calling cards and other items of social ephemera, ribbons, medals, a small red sock (probably a party favor rather than an article of personal clothing), scrapbooks, baby books, numerous family photographs and negatives, several carved linoleum blocks and prints, newspaper clippings and other printed items. Families represented in this collection include Knolle, Friedrichs, Oehmichen, and Kunz.

The Knolle and Friedrichs families became allied with the early twentieth-century marriage of Dr. Wilkes Adams Knolle (1894-1971) and Helene Oehmichen Friedrichs Knolle (1896-1981). Helene Friedrichs attended Newcomb College and studied art-- she seems to have been the primary self-archiving genealogist and collector, but the donation was made in 1972 by Mrs. Georgia White.  

Researchers in New Orleans history and arts will be particularly interested in the linoleum blocks and the resulting prints, and will appreciate the wide array of formal and informal personal photographs in this collection, many originating in New Orleans studios and others taken outdoors by amateur photographers.  Other LaRC collections featuring linoleum blocks and/or prints are Miriam Levy papers (Collection 710) and New Orleans art schools' calendars (Collection 522). 

Captions: "Canal Street Home of Mr. Gustaf Oehmichen, Marie Helene Oehmichen Friedrichs and Helene Friedrichs (Knolle) on the veranda, as a child of 4 (in the 1890's)" [added later in ball point pen and pencil]; studio photographs featuring Helene as a child: "H. O. Friedrichs, Art 1917, Newcomb College, 17 months, N.B. Please don't destroy."; "Helene Oehmichen Friedrichs" age 5; two uncaptioned open air shots, on the veranda, and school friends; hand-carved linoleum blocks showing remnants of ink color, and a printed Christmas card, "Best Wishes, Dr. and Mrs. Wilkes Adams Knolle." box 5 [block for this print is not in the collection].    Images of items in the Louisiana Research Collection may not be re-published without permission.

Posted by Susanna Powers

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Memory Market

New Orleans and the surrounding areas have been damaged by many hurricanes through the years.  On the first day of hurricane season 2016, we make plans and hope for a calm season.

In late September 1915, a hurricane caused massive flooding in New Orleans.   LaRC Manuscripts Collection 345 (Olga Hartmann photograph collection) holds numerous images of the storm's destruction to the city.   In 1973, Ms. Hartmann (1913-1975), a lifelong resident of New Orleans, recognized the historical significance of these photographs and donated them to Tulane University.  Two of the photographs were signed and named by her father, John F. Hartmann (1890-1967); presumably he was the photographer of many or all in this collection.

Other subjects represented in this amazing small collection are winter landscapes, Audubon Park, and New Orleans Carnival.

Captions: verso of top photograph: Day after 1915 Storm on Tulane Ave. in front of "Memory Market."  Olga Hartmann photograph collection, Manuscripts Collection 345, Folder 4.

Posted by Susanna Powers

Monday, May 23, 2016

so we'll meet again

John Francis Shepert Hamer II (born 1909 or 1910) of Texas, was stationed at Camp Polk, La., from 1942 to 1945. Immediately prior to the war, he had lived in Fort Worth, Tex., with his aunt and uncle. He had a wide circle of friends, mostly stationed at other domestic Army bases. When on leave, they would visit New Orleans, Alexandria, La., or other American cities, to enjoy the company of others in the gay community. Within this collection, different letter authors addressed him in writing alternately as Jon, John, or Johnny.

LaRC Manuscripts Collection 199 (Jon Hamer papers, 1876-1950) holds the personal, military, and family papers of Jon Hamer, primarily from the World War II era.   Hamer donated his papers to Tulane in 1969.  At that date, he lived in San Francisco.  Included in the collection are handwritten and typed correspondence, post cards, greeting cards, numerous "v-mails", programs, a log book of letters received, tax and financial documents, legal papers, certificates, notes, night club ephemera, journal issues, newspaper clippings and sections, a book, and other printed items. Sgt. Hamer's most frequent correspondent was Sgt. J. H. Hildahl, called Harvey.

This archival collection will be of interest to researchers in World War II-era life in America, and to those doing historical studies of gays in the United States military.   On Memorial Day, we remember and commemorate the lives of those who gave military service to America.

Caption: post card received by Jon Hamer, LaRC Manuscripts Collection 199

Posted by Susanna Powers

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

J. Curtis Waldo, Publisher

According to his obituary, James Curtis Waldo (1835-1901) was a well-known American journalist, author, and publisher. Originally from Illinois, he lived in New Orleans beginning in 1848 and for the rest of his life.   He served in the Confederate Army for one year.   After the war, he was the New Orleans correspondent for numerous American and European newspapers. Sometimes he wrote and published using his own name, and other times he wrote under the pseudonym, Tim Linkinwater, especially for newspaper editorials and columns.  He and his wife, Margaret Mary Woods Waldo, had six children.

LaRC Manuscripts Collection 260 (covering items created 1850-1932) is made up of Waldo's personal and professional papers, including handwritten correspondence, greeting cards, invitations and other items of social ephemera such as New Orleans Carnival ephemera, drawings, embroidery, financial documents, poems, handwritten and printed maps, newspaper clippings and other printed items. He also kept items relating to the 1884 exposition in New Orleans, and the 1881 fair in St. Louis.

J. C. Waldo was a man of his times.   His interests are revealed, both in this archival collection, and in the LaRC's book collection.   An author search in the library catalog (Waldo, J. Curtis (James Curtis), 1835-1901) retrieves five books in addition to the archival collection, ranging from Carnival, to Southern agricultural pests, to state fairs, to the politics of Reconstruction.

Posted by Susanna Powers   

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Discoveries in Jones Hall-- Williams family genealogy and images

LaRC Manuscripts Collection 256 is the family bible given to Tulane in 1973 by Virginia Williams Harris and Espy Williams of New Orleans.  It was donated in memory of their sister, Lealuh (or Leluh) Olivia Williams Davis (1877-1973), a member of the Trinity United Methodist Church.

This bible is considered an archival collection because of its unique and personalized additions. The book itself, a large locking volume with ornate binding, contains handwritten genealogical notations about members of this branch of the African-American Williams family of Louisiana.   In various people's handwriting, there are lovingly written notes listing marriages, births and deaths having happened from the mid-nineteenth century forward through 1973, along with pressed leaves and flowers.  Toward the end of the volume, there is a small batch of family photographs, including tintype and printed individual portraits made at studios in New Orleans, kept probably since before the publication of the book. Other family names represented in this collection include Davis, Claverie, Banks, Harris, Satasfield or Satterfield, Coleman, and Barrilleaux. The volume itself is in fragile condition.

LaRC encourages all Louisiana families to consider donating their family papers as archival collections, which will ensure safekeeping, long-term preservation, and researcher access.

1. undated and uncaptioned photographic portraits of family members--the two smaller prints are tintypes, dating them from the latter half of the nineteenth century, and the mounted photograph is a paper print made at a New Orleans portrait studio, probably early twentieth century.  
2. a page with handwritten genealogical notations through 1973.
Jeanette Davis Davis, Oct. 14, 1903; died May 9, 1929
Rowena Claverie, July 3, 1881; died July 16, 1954
Frances Daisy Banks, Nov. 4, 1879; died Nov. 22, 1957
Leluh Olivia Williams Davis
Born July 28 - 1877   Died Aug. 16 - 1973. 
Images of items held in the Louisiana Research Collection may not be re-published without permission.

Posted by Susanna Powers

Friday, April 8, 2016

1307 Dryades or 1307 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.

The Robert C. Davey School, located in 1936 at 1307 Dryades St., between Erato and Thalia, was built on the site of two previous schools, the Webster School and the Jefferson School. Around 1911, it was named in honor of New Orleans politician Robert Charles Davey (1853-1908), who had served in the U. S. House of Representatives.   Later in the century, this building housed the Myrtle Banks Elementary School.  

LaRC Manuscripts Collection 184 consists of scrapbooks compiled by teachers and students of the Robert C. Davey School. Vol. 1 includes keepsakes commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the school in 1936, such as invitations, programs, telegrams, greeting cards, ribbons, buttons, leaves, children's artwork, mounted photographs of the school, teachers and other school employees, and other items of social ephemera. Vol. 2 includes school papers covering sessions in the 1950s. Images of the nineteenth-century schools on the location, newspaper clippings and other printed items are also included.

The Sunday, April 3, 2016, online Gambit featured a story about a new use for this old building, (this segment of Dryades is now known as Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.)  Dryades Public Market hosts opening ceremonies April 14 and 16.     Congratulations on this new venture! 

Captions: from Manuscripts Collection 184, v. 1.   Photograph of the Davey School around 1936, a telegram of congratulations on the 25th anniversary celebrations, and an invitation to the same event.  Images of items in the Louisiana Research Collection may not be re-published without permission.

Posted by Susanna Powers

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Watkins and Orton families papers, 1886-1971.

LaRC Manuscripts Collection 185, originally part of a larger 1967 donation by descendant, Dorothy Inbusch of Milwaukee, is made up of personal papers of the Watkins and Orton families of New Orleans and Milwaukee.  Included are handwritten and typed correspondence, certificates including an 1890 German-language birth certificate for John Orton Watkins, financial documents, drawings, poetry, scrapbooks, family and travel photographs, biographical and genealogical information, medical notes and a prescription by Dr. William H. Watkins, a 1902 memorial resolution by the Orleans Parish Medical Society following the death of Dr. Watkins, invitations and other items of social ephemera, New Orleans Carnival newspaper clippings, and other printed items.

This collection's numerous family photographs include formal posed studio portraits made in New Orleans, Milwaukee, and Vienna, as well as many less formal, almost candid shots.  It seems that twins run in the family.  A family photographer would pose the little children in typical traditional serious shots, then follow these up with images of them behaving in a more natural silly manner, which may or may not have been planned, but is unusual in family albums of the day.

Image 1 above:  Uncaptioned photograph, undated but probably around the turn of the century, Watkins and Orton families papers, Manuscripts Collection 185, Box 3. 

Images 2/3: Uncaptioned photographs in same collection, v. 1 (scrapbook).

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

Posted by Susanna Powers

Thursday, March 10, 2016

LaRC books-- Glass house

Glass house : a novel / by Christine Wiltz.
Baton Rouge : Louisiana State University Press, 1994.


There are also copies in the main Howard-Tilton stacks and Vorhoff Library (Special Collections); call number varies slightly in different locations, so please check the library catalog.   It's also available from amazon.com and elsewhere in paperback, hardcover, and electronic editions.

This serious novel of the 1990s is important as an emotional snapshot of an earlier era in race relations in New Orleans.  Although poverty, gun violence, and remnants of racism continue to plague the city in the 21st century, this novel captures the painful tenacity of mid-century views surrounding an inherited long-term domestic worker and her family, and their relationship to her semi-privileged but challenged employer.

The strength of Christine Wiltz's descriptive writing is her ability to portray most of the characters very sympathetically, even though they themselves are somewhat at war with each other.   An added feature is the feminine point of view, centered on the main character, a young divorced white woman attempting to make a large inherited house her home.  Her great difficulty in doing this reflects indecision about her own identity and life choices.

Posted by Susanna Powers


Friday, February 12, 2016

What is under New Orleans

Rev. Edward E. Fontaine (1814-1884), professor of theology and natural science, wrote and lectured in association with the New Orleans Academy of Sciences during the mid-nineteenth century.  He authored scientific papers on hydraulic engineering, geology, geography, and archeology.   His published works may not deal directly with his basic religious worldview, but in other papers this is addressed.

LaRC Manuscripts Collection M-8 is a small set of Rev. Fontaine's papers, 1867-1868.   This collection consists of professional papers, including a fourteen-page handwritten extract of an 1868 lecture, in which he advocates for maintaining a well to acquire healing effervescent artesian water from beneath the city of New Orleans, which would have medicinal benefits such as curing yellow fever and cholera.  Also included is a typed transcription of an 1867 letter from E. E. Fontaine (as secretary of the New Orleans Academy of Sciences) to Mrs. Marie B. Williams of Alexandria, inviting her to do research at the academy's museum, where he has offices.   In both documents, he mentions J. L. Riddell, whom he describes as "the most accomplished natural philosopher the South has yet produced."  He writes also that he is working on a book, The Testimony of Natural Science to the Truth of the Bible.

In Rev. Fontaine's 1868 lecture, he bitterly complains about the failure of the City Council to follow through with building an artesian well in Canal Street, but concludes with flowery praise of Louisiana and its natural resources. 

of a
Lecture prepared for
Lyceum Hall
New Orleans

Subject – What is under New Orleans

By the
Rev. Edward Fontaine
April 7th 1868

     In 1856 an attempt was made to find artesian water in New Orleans, and a well was bored in Canal Street between Carondelet & Baronne Strs. by appropriations paid by the City Council.  This was sunk to the depth of 630 ft., and after an accident occurred to the tubing, an additional appropriation was refused, and the enterprize was abandoned.  Fortunately the Academy of Sciences appointed a Committee to supervise the work, & to report upon it.  The different strata were carefully numbered; their thickness & depth below the surface were measured; and specimens of each were preserved in bottles; & their contents examined & analyzed.  From the reports of that Committee, I have been able to make the map of the Section of the well now in the Academy.

     The accurate measurements & descriptions of Dr. Benedict, the skillful analysis of Dr. Riddell, and the materials of the strata brought to the surface, & preserved, are sufficient to enable us to understand much about the structure of the Delta which would have otherwise remained to the present time entirely unknown.

     Aided by the map of this well, I will now proceed to examine more particularly what is under New Orleans, from the bottom of the boring to the surface.

     When its shore was far above this City, the annual floods of the Mississippi made deposits in its deep water which were arranged according to their Specific gravity.  Some settled down into water several hundred feet below the sea level, others lodged upon shallow bars, while lighter particles floated off with the tropical current far from our Coast.

     The storms of the Gulf then heaped upon these, river deposits at all depths, sand & shells.  These were again covered with the deposits of the River; & the same action of the Gulf buried them again with marine matter.  The mudlumps with their gas & Artesian waters, then rearranged & solidified the whole.  As the Delta was thus formed above this City, and under it, so it is in a state of formation now; but at this distance from the Gulf, the velocity & force of the caving in its banks & shifting its channel has evidently been continued here for many years, & perhaps for Centuries.  It is forever at work tumbling in one shore, and adding a sand bar to the other.  Its course is a serpentine succession of Curves, & the plantations with their protective levees on the concave face of the Curve were doomed to inevitable destruction under the present system of defence; while the convex shore is growing into sand bars, & pushing the river from its bed, to sweep away the land of the opposite side.

     An examination of a section of its bed will enable you to understand this—which is the greatest danger to which New Orleans is exposed.  A glance at the Map of the Artesian well will show you its exact composition to the deepest part of its bed or the bottom of the River.  The depth seems to have changed greatly. 

In this huge mass of sand 145 ft. thick the celebrated Bladon Springs water was reached which flows out of the top of the well, at the rate of Six gallons per minute.  A careful analysis of it made by Prof. Riddell for the Academy found it to be identical with the water of those celebrated Springs in Alabama; but in addition to its superior medical properties, it effervesced, & made a more pleasant sparkling beverage. 

To obtain this valuable tonic, hundreds travel out of the State, or import it at great expense.  Thousands of dollars are spent to obtain it, when it is easily accessible at small expense, and inexhaustible quantity.  It is certainly found in a vast basin of Sand known to be 145 ft. thick.  It is reasonable to suppose that such a stupendous stratum extends laterally to a great distance; & that it not only underlies every part of this City, but extends under the whole delta of Louisiana.  Why was it not secured?  And why cannot we obtain it now?  …It is most disgraceful to this City, & the record of the fact will ever be a foul blot upon her history, & it will be read with astonishment by the enlightened generations of the future, that in the year 1856, in spite of the assurance on the part of learned geologists & chemists, that artesian water could be found here at no great depth & in great abundance, and in spite of the known fact that inexhaustible supplies of the best medicinal water in the world were buried at a depth of only 430 ft., & were ready to flow out in healing streams for every family then living in the City, & that deaf to the petitions, memorials & remonstrances of a learned Academy, her City Council refused to make an appropriation to secure this hidden wealth, & which has been neglected to the present day all their successors.  This is still under New Orleans!  Is it possible that this great City is too ignorant, too poor, or too unpatriotic to benefit itself, by the expenditure of less than $10,000?   If a small joint stock company with a capital of $5000 could be formed, with the improved apparatus for boring wells in this Soil, with no rock to encounter in 200 yards—this Bladon Spring water could be obtained in sufficient quantity to enrich the body Corporate & to save the lives of thousands.  Where the Great Creator has given a city the finest River in the world to bring wealth of all Continents & Oceans to its wharves, to irrigate its gardens, to cleanse its streets & to purify its atmosphere, and it will not improve its navigation and control its power, it can surprise nobody, if it is undermined & swept away by its waters.     And where in addition to this, the same kind providence has not only provided the means for filling it with wealth, adorning it with beauty, and purifying it from all that is offensive and deadly, it has constructed a fountain of healing water pure as that of Silva, which they will not pierce and use, surely if her Citizens die with yellow fever & cholera, they can only blame themselves for their afflictions.

     But the Delta of Louisiana is a new land, growing continually, and it seems to be invigorated with the strength, and animated by the hopefulness of Youth; No trace of age or premature decay has touched its lovely form.  The elements above, beneath & around it are friendly to its mature development.

     The cold waters of the North tempered by the winds of the South, & the waves of tropical seas do homage to it, as to a young queen, and lay all the costly offerings, of their Commerce of all climes, at her feet. 

     Her children, nature born & adopted, may well be proud of a mother land so young & so fair.  Let it be their delight to develop her resources, to adorn her with all the improvements of art, and crown her with glory. 

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

Posted by Susanna Powers 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Happy Mardi Gras!

The Schiro Reading Room will be closed from February 6 through February 9, in observance of the Mardi Gras holidays.   Have a safe and happy early Mardi Gras.

To access original Carnival memorabilia located throughout LaRC's archival collections, do an advanced catalog search, combining the subject keyword, Carnival Louisiana New Orleans (all of these), with Type: archival material.   Here is the result of that search, which yields 53 cataloged collections.  

Caption:  1974 carnival memorabilia, "Bacchus reads the comics, Mardi Gras, New Orleans." (Blaine Kern Artists).  This item is located in the Anna Harrison papers, LaRC Manuscripts Collection 1020, Box 2, Folder 4.  Images of items held in the Louisiana Research Collection may not be re-published without permission.

Posted by Susanna Powers

Monday, January 4, 2016

Julius Friend and the Double Dealer

Julius Weis Friend (1894-1962) was a founder and editor of the New Orleans literary magazine, The Double Dealer, which was published 1921-1926.  Having been educated at Yale University, Julius Friend lectured on literary and philosophical subjects, and taught history at Tulane University in the late 1940s.  In 1922, he had married Elise Siess Weil (1896-1984), and they had two children.   After his death, Mrs. Friend donated her husband's personal and literary papers to Tulane University.

This archival collection (LaRC Manuscripts Collection 138) includes handwritten and typed correspondence, including outgoing carbons, legal and financial documents, tax and insurance papers, travel journals, manuscripts of Mr. Friend's writings including a history of The Double Dealer, biographical and genealogical information about the Friend family and his own life, invitations and other items of social ephemera, poems submitted for publication including one by Louis Gilmore, newspaper clippings and other printed items. Correspondents include Sherwood Anderson, James K. Feibleman, other authors, lawyers, publishers and bookstores.

An almost-complete run of the original issues of the magazine itself are held in LaRC (call number 976.3 (051) D727 LACOLL); numerous issues are also held in Rare Books (William B. Wisdom). 

Captions: top three images are of items within the Julius W. Friend papers, 1920-1976 (LaRC Manuscripts Collection 138), including a personal letter from Sherwood Anderson, an original poem of Louis Gilmore, and a stock certificate from the Double Dealer Publishing Company in New Orleans.  Last image is the title page of the first issue of The Double Dealer.   Images of items held in the Louisiana Research Collection may not be re-published without permission.

Happy New Year 2016 from LaRC!

Posted by Susanna Powers