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 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