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Louisiana Research Collection. Tulane University. Howard-Tilton Memorial Library Special Collections.
Mississippi Steamboats

LaRC is pleased to announce the online guide to its Steamboat Image Collection. Measuring over 60 linear feet, the collection preserves thousands of images of riverboats of all kinds (sternwheelers, sidewheelers, tugs, packets, showboats, and more), from their construction to their wreckage, providing a fascinating view of the country's steamboat era in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

One of the larger collections of steamboat images in the world, it was purchased for Tulane by the Joseph Merrick and Eugenie Penick Jones Foundation in 1966 from the estate of Capt. Donald T. Wright, editor and publisher of the Waterways Journal. Stored in filing cabinets and accessible only through a paper finding aid since that time, the collection has been completely rehoused and upgraded by intern Kyle DeCoste, who also created the collection’s first online index. The project was one part of LaRC’s larger program to upgrade its extensive image holdings. The guide to the entire image project, including the steamboat section, is available online.

Photo: The Queen City, photo by James R. Mullens (undated).

Louisiana French-language folktales online

Audio recordings of seventy-nine folktales recorded by Calvin Claudel in Avoyelles Parish in the 1940s comprise LaRC’s most recent online collection.

All recordings are by persons who were natives of Avoyelles Parish and were bilingual in French and English. Claudel had a special interest in magic tales and numbskull tales (about the humorous misadventures of fools) and sought to demonstrate a connection between Louisiana and French folk traditions.

According to Thomas Klingler, Associate Professor of French, the recordings “are a treasure trove for linguistic studies that give us a rare window onto Louisiana French from over 70 years ago.” Barry Jean Ancelet, folklorist and emeritus Granger & Debaillon Endowed Professor in Francophone Studies at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, said the collection is “an important one in the history of Louisiana French oral tradition studies.”

A folklorist and professor of romance languages, Calvin Andre Claudel (1916-1988) was born in Avoyelles Parish. He completed his dissertation, “A Study of Louisiana French Folktales in Avoyelles Parish,” at the University of North Carolina in 1948. He used Presto recording equipment to record the interviews. Presto was an instantaneous recording technique using aluminum plates coated with a cellulose nitrate based lacquer. LaRC sent the plates to an audio conservator in Philadelphia who created the archival digital files that are now available online.

Stewart Butler papers

LaRC recently acquired the papers of Stewart Butler. The collection is one of the most important Louisiana LGBT civil rights resources extant.

Mr. Butler began his civil rights work in New Orleans helping with voter registration drives in the 1970s. In 1980 he was a founding member of LAGPAC, an early advocacy group seeking equal rights for the gay community. Mr. Butler was the only individual to be a part of all three attempts to pass a New Orleans Gay Rights Ordinance in 1984, 1986, and 1991. He has served on the boards of the Lesbian and Gay Community Center, LAGPAC, Celebration New Orleans, PFLAG, the LGBT+ Archives Project, and many other organizations dedicated to equal rights for all.

An Army Veteran, Mr. Butler holds degrees in geological engineering and business administration and attended law school. His many honors include the ACLU-LAGPAC Gittings-Hay Award for service in 1985; the Louisiana Council for Equal Rights Award for outstanding achievement in politics in 1991; the Human Rights Campaign Outstanding Leadership and Service Award in 1993; the 2004 Equality Louisiana’s Community First Award; and the ACLU of Louisiana Ben Smith Award in 2014.

The collection will require several months of archival work and should be ready for researchers by the end of the year.

Center for Public Service

For the Spring semester, LaRC was delighted to welcome two interns from the Tulane Center for Public Service, Emily Galik and Shelby Burke. Both students interned with LaRC as part of a public history class lead by Professor Jana Lipman, and both are applying their experiences in LaRC to their summer jobs.

Emily Galik is a History and Political Science major from Ellicott City, Maryland. She researched LaRC’s holdings pertaining to the Louisiana women’s suffrage movement, created a study guide, and drew up an exhibit plan for LaRC’s contribution to the NOLA4Women project. Emily will work this summer at the Maryland Women's Heritage Center.

Shelby Burke will use the skills she learned in LaRC to work this summer at the Da Vinci Art Alliance, a non-profit arts organization in Philadelphia. A native of Moorestown, New Jersey, Shelby is majoring in history and minoring in English. Shelby learned archival processing while at LaRC and helped organize our Carnival collection.

People and places

LaRC was well-represented at the annual meeting of the Louisiana Historical Association (LHA) by Susanna Powers, Archives Catalog Librarian, and Sean Benjamin, Public Services Librarian. Sean is a member of the LHA Archives Committee. The meeting took place in Baton Rouge March 17-19.

In May, Sean attended the annual meeting of the Society of Southwest Archivists in Oklahoma City, for which he served on the Program Committee. Sean also attended the conference “Resistance. Escape. Community: Opposition to Enslavement in North Louisiana,” February 19-20, in Natchitoches, and was recently elected to the steering committee of Society of the American Archivist’s Manuscripts Section.

In April, Kyle DeCoste, LaRC’s Thelma Ducoing Toole intern, presented the paper "From Object to Subject: New Orleans Brass Bands, Gender, and the Liberated Voice" at the EMP Pop Conference in Seattle.

Andrew Mullins, LaRC’s Archives Associate for Archives Processing and Digital Initiatives, has been elected chair of the Tulane University Library Staff Association. During the first week of May, Andrew participated in a five-day online workshop on EAD3, the standard for encoding archival finding aids for use in a networked (online) environment. In April, Andrew organized Howard-Tilton Memorial Library’s participation in the city-wide “Bike to Work Week” and led the library to having the highest participation of any organization. On January 15 he attended a workshop on preservation practices at Loyola University. Also in January, Andrew created LaRC’s annual Carnival exhibit, which featured original float and costume designs from the 1886 Proteus parade. You can browse LaRC's online Carnival float and costume designs here.

Leon Miller, head of LaRC, will speak at the German-American Cultural Center on July 16. Lee spoke to the Jefferson Genealogical Society on April 21.


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LaRC’s special projects are made possible by donations and other private support. Please visit our online giving page to learn more about how your donation can help preserve our heritage.


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Louisiana Research Collection Room 202, Jones Hall, Tulane University,
New Orleans LA 70118
Phone: 504-865-5685 | Fax: 504-865-5761
lmiller@tulane.edu  |  larc@tulane.edu