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

Online access to our holdings is a LaRC priority and we are pleased to announce three new digital collections. They span a range of subjects from Louisiana literature to Louisiana art to Louisiana’s contributions to WWII. We would like to thank Pat Vince, Director of User Services & Library IT, Jeff Rubin, Digital Initiatives and Publications Coordinator, and their team at the Tulane Digital Library, particularly Bernadette Birzer, who oversaw scanning and metadata creation.

John Kennedy Toole papers

Researchers from around the world now have online access to the personal and literary papers of beloved New Orleans novelist, John Kennedy Toole (1937-1969). Toole is best-known as the author of Confederacy of Dunces, for which he posthumously received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1981.

The papers of John Kennedy Toole include correspondence, personal items, and images. There is a considerable amount of memorabilia that his mother, Thelma Ducoing Toole, kept concerning her son, including reviews and articles about Toole and his works. The papers of his parents, John D. Toole and Thelma Ducoing Toole, are also part  of the collection.

Much of the personal memorabilia of Toole’s life, and his parents’ lives, was originally preserved by the collection’s donor, Thelma Ducoing Toole, who was persistently intent on the publication of her son’s comedic masterpiece. Toole, born in New Orleans, excelled in all levels of his education, graduating Phi Beta Kappa with Honors in English at Tulane University at the age of twenty. He agonized as to whether to teach or to write, and attended graduate school at Columbia while teaching at Hunter College. His opportunity to spend time writing fiction came ironically while stationed with the Army in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he taught English as a second language.

After returning to New Orleans, he met with disappointment attempting to publish “A Confederacy of Dunces.” He continued to vacillate between attempting to teach and attempting to write, but sadly his life ultimately ended in suicide. Many years later, his ground-breaking novel was published by Louisiana State University Press, primarily through the efforts of his mother, who, with manuscript in hand, was fortunate to find a receptive audience in well-known novelist Walker Percy.

This digital project was made possible by an anonymous donor who created the Thelma Ducoing Toole Memorial Fund.

Image: Hand-tinted portrait of Toole taken at Harper's Studio in New Orleans, c. 1940.

"Pops" Whitesell glass plate negatives

2,600 glass plate negatives by noted New Orleans photographer Joseph Woodson “Pops” Whitesell (1876 – 1958) are now available online.

Internationally-renowned, Whitesell was one of the most exhibited photographers of his day, including an exhibition of his work at the Smithsonian in 1946. Today his work is part of the permanent collections of many institutions, including the Brooklyn Museum, the Smithsonian, the Chicago Historical Society, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and the Louisiana State Museum.

Whitesell moved to New Orleans from his native Indiana in 1918. By 1921 he had established a studio in the French Quarter where he became a noted portrait photographer. In addition to documenting New Orleans society, including debutantes, wedding parties, and Carnival royalty, Whitesell was a central figure of French Quarter bohemia and was part of the arts and preservation movement that became known as the French Quarter Renaissance.

World War II WPA posters

Also now available online is "World War II Posters by Louisiana Artists of the WPA Federal Arts Project, 1940-1941."

The twenty-eight silk screened posters were produced under the direction of Angela Gregory, Louisiana State Supervisor for the Federal Arts Project, at the group's workshop at 718 Toulouse Street, New Orleans. Artists involved in this project included John McCrady, Roland G. Duvernet, T.A. Byrne, and others. Subjects include rationing, conservation, recruitment, public health, domestic security, national secrets, and the sale of war bonds and stamps.

How long have women fought?

LaRC's latest exhibit is “How Long Have Women Fought for Liberty? A History of Louisiana's Women's Political Activism." It highlights notable New Orleans women activists and their struggle to obtain the right to vote, with a special emphasis on how our city’s social stratification and educational institutions shaped the local suffrage movement. The exhibit is on display in Room 201, Jones Hall, through May 2017.

The exhibit was created by Tulane student Emily Galik as part of her internship for the class "Public History" taught by Professor Jana K. Lipman. Emily also created a study guide which is available online here. Emily is from Ellicott City, Maryland, and is a third-year student majoring in history and political science. She is also a Newcomb Scholar.

Preserving the heritage of New Orleans women is a special mission of the Louisiana Research Collection. From the personal papers of notable women (including Lindy Boggs, Hilda Phelps Hammond, Ethel Hutson, Angela Gregory, and many others) to the records of women’s organizations (including the Poydras Home, the Quarante Club, the YWCA, the Independent Women’s Organization, the Christian Women’s Exchange, the Louisiana Women’s Committee, and the National Council of Jewish Women) the Louisiana Research Collection is a leader in preserving the contributions of women to New Orleans. A partial guide to LaRC's women's resources is available online here.

A time for reflection

With the end of another year approaching, this is a natural time to reflect on the past and plan for the future. The past few years have been transformative for LaRC, during which we have proven that we think big, plan big, and accomplish big things.

We haven’t done it alone. Putting our Carnival designs online was made possible by the Charles L. “Pie” Dufour Fund. Putting John Kennedy Toole’s papers online was made possible by an anonymous donor who wished to permanently memorialize Toole’s mother by creating the Thelma Ducoing Toole Endowed Fund.

Such gifts are essential to LaRC's mission to preserve the culture and heritage of our state. Therefore, please consider including the Louisiana Research Collection in your end-of-year gift planning. Year-end gifts to LaRC can be doubly effective. First, you will be supporting LaRC's work and goals. Second, tax benefits may enable you to do more than you realized was possible. The availability of the income tax deduction helps a charitable person be even more charitable by lowering the cost of giving.

The Louisiana Research Collection gratefully accepts bequests, securities, and real estate. Especially helpful are endowed funds or named positions, by which you can permanently memorialize a friend, colleague, or loved one. You can also donate to LaRC using a credit card here. To learn about more options and the kinds of support LaRC needs, please visit the giving section of our website, or contact:

Leon Miller
Head, Louisiana Research Collection
Jones Hall Room 200
Tulane University
New Orleans LA 70118
504-314-7833

Image: “Acorns,” a float design from Krewe of Proteus 1892 parade. You can view  the full design, enlarge it to examine the beautiful detail, and browse the rest of LaRC’s more than 5,500 online Carnival float and costume designs here.

People and places

Andrew Mullins, Archives Processing and Digital Initiatives associate, attended the annual meeting of the Louisiana Archives and Manuscripts Association. It was held at Nicholls State University in Thibodeaux, October 7.

Kyle DeCoste, LaRC’s Thelma Ducoing Toole intern, is now a Dean's Fellow at the Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in New York. We were fortunate to work with Kyle and wish him all the best.

For more information about Tulane University’s Louisiana Research Collection (LaRC), please visit our website.
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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