Showing posts from 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


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…

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.   

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 …

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…

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 fa…

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 ow…

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 flood…

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 195…

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

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). H…

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, M…

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, leg…

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. …

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…

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 …

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 ph…

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 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 a…

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…

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

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, newspa…