About the Louisiana Research Collection
Who We Are
The Louisiana Research Collection (LaRC) is the oldest, largest, and most comprehensive research center for New Orleans and the second largest for Louisiana as a whole after Hill Memorial Library at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. As an integrated research library and archives, LaRC offers a full range of library and archival research resources, from books and manuscripts to maps and images.
LaRC supports almost every aspect of Louisiana research, but among our special strengths are art, business, Carnival, the Civil War, Jewish studies, LGBT studies, Louisiana politics, medicine, social welfare, literature, waterways, and women's studies.
We are open to everyone and welcome all researchers on an equal basis.
The Louisiana Research Collection (LaRC) supports the teaching, research, and community-building missions of Tulane University by collecting, preserving, and making easily accessible library and archival resources relating to the study of Louisiana.
In layperson's terms, we go out into the public and seek books, maps, and archival documents crucial for understanding Louisiana, we bring them into our research center, we preserve them and keep them safe, and we make them available for people to use. Making our holdings easily accessible drives everything we do, and we strive to make our holdings available in a comfortable and welcoming manner. When you visit, we want you to experience the highest level of professionalism, respect, and courtesy. When you leave, we want you to be glad that you visited and eager to return.
Tulane University’s archival program began on May 3, 1889, when Mrs. L. Dolhonde presented to the Charles T. Howard Memorial Library a letter from Thomas Jefferson to M. duPlantier. That donation marked the beginning of what came to be the Louisiana Research Collection (LaRC).
In 1938 the Howard Library, the Newcomb Library from Newcomb College, and Tilton Library from Tulane University merged to form Tulane’s Howard-Tilton Memorial Library (HTML). The Howard Library opened in 1889 and while privately held, functioned as the city library for New Orleans. Its holdings are largely why LaRC today preserves one of the finest nineteenth-century Louisiana libraries.
While the Howard Library, the Newcomb Library, the Tilton Library, and the merged Howard-Tilton Memorial Library (HTML) had all intermittently acquired Louisiana research materials, in 1956 HTML hired its first person specifically charged with overseeing archival and special collections. The new Special Collections department initially had three sections: Rare Books, the Manuscripts Department (for archival collections) and the Louisiana Collection (for books and other printed resources about Louisiana). Those departments were soon followed by the Hogan Jazz Archives (1958), the Tulane University Archives (1962) and the Southeastern Architectural Archives (1980).
In 2009 the Manuscripts Department and Louisiana Collection merged to form the Louisiana Research Collection (LaRC). In the more than 120 years since its initial donation, the Louisiana Research Collection has grown to encompass almost four linear miles of archival documents, books, maps, images, ephemera, and other resources central to the study of our state.
Selected Noteworthy Holdings
- The papers of Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson, and the Gettysburg letters of Robert E. Lee.
- One of the finer nineteenth-century Louisiana libraries in existence.
- The papers of more than a dozen Louisiana Members of Congress, including Bob Livingston, Lindy Boggs, Hale Boggs, and David Treen.
- The records of many women’s organizations, such as the New Orleans YWCA, the New Orleans League of Women Voters, the Quarante Club, the Ruth McEnery Stuart Clan, the Independent Women’s Organization, the New Orleans Women’s Club, the Metairie Women’s Club, Cancer Crusaders, and perhaps most notably, the records of the Poydras Home, which is probably the oldest organization in the country established for women and continuously run by women.
- The largest paper Carnival collection extant, including original float and costumes designs from 1873 to the present.
- Papers of Louisiana authors and poets such as John Kennedy Toole, George Washington Cable, Lyle Saxon, Roark Bradford, Frances Parkinson Keyes, Ben Burman, Hermann Deutsch, Ruth McEnery Stuart, and Catharine Savage Brosman.
- The records of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana and the records of most Jewish synagogues and temples in the greater New Orleans area.
- The records of social welfare organizations such as the Louisiana ACLU, the New Orleans YWCA, the Council of Social Agencies of New Orleans, the Jewish Children’s Home, Kingsley House, Protestant Children’s Home, the Traveler’s Aid Society, the Community Chest of New Orleans, and more.
Because we preserve international cultural treasures, we have an ethical obligation to make our holdings available to everyone on an equal basis; and, we believe we have a responsibility to make our holdings available in a manner that is comfortable and welcoming.
We look forward to your visit to the Louisiana Research Collection.