Connie Griffith papersWilliam R. Cullison, III, recently donated the papers of Connie Griffith (1904-1997; 19 linear feet) to the Louisiana Research Collection. The guide to the collection is available online.
While Tulane University has intermittently acquired Louisiana archival documents since at least 1889, in 1953 Howard-Tilton Memorial Library hired Griffith as its first person charged with overseeing special collections. At the time the collection was small and little-known, consisting of fewer than 35,000 items. By the time she retired some twenty years later, Mrs. Griffith had built it into a repository of national significance, with over two and a half million pieces.
Consuelo “Connie” Garza Griffith was born in 1904 in Rio Grande City, Texas, to a wealthy family. She entered the University of Texas when she was 15, majoring in Spanish and French. She graduated with her B.A. in 1922 at the age of 18.
Griffith then went on to get her Masters Degree in 1926 from the University of Texas, while teaching at the University. During World War II, she took a leave of absence to go to Washington, D.C. to serve as Director of the Division of Education of the Office of Inter-American Affairs. In this post, Griffith traveled around the country to colleges and universities setting up Latin American programs and workshops.
Griffith then arrived in New Orleans and taught language at Newcomb College in 1950-1951. In 1953, she took over the Manuscripts Department of the Howard-Tilton Library, becoming the founding head of Tulane University’s Special Collections. She held this position until her retirement in 1974.
Griffith was very active in New Orleans’ society and in many local organizations, such as Le Petit Salon, Louisiana Historical Society, Louisiana Landmark’s Society, and the YWCA. She also enjoyed traveling the world, visiting places China, the United Kingdom, Russia, and Central America. She died in July 1997, at the age of 92.
The Connie Griffith papers were processed by Stephanie N. Jolissaint, who holds the Charles L. “Pie” Dufour Internship in the Louisiana Research Collection.
Image: Moore, Sylvia Lisette. Connie Garza Griffith. 1989, oil on canvas. Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane University.