Through the Williams Research Center (WRC) The Historic New Orleans Collection offers scholars access to extensive collections related to the Gulf South, particularly New Orleans and Louisiana. The professional curators, librarians, archivists, and reference assistants can connect researchers to our extensive holdings: over 30,000 library items, including books, pamphlets, sheet music, printed broadsides, theater programs, and periodicals; more than two linear miles of documents and manuscripts; and approximately 500,000 photographs, prints, drawings, and paintings. The Collection regularly adds to its research collections through purchase and tax-deductible donation.
The major research fields are colonial Louisiana, the Louisiana Purchase, the Battle of New Orleans, the Civil War, Mississippi River life, cartography, transportation, plantations, urban development, Louisiana artists and writers, architecture, the French Quarter, jazz and other forms of early New Orleans music, historic preservation, and Mardi Gras. The collections reflect aspects of the history and culture of the Gulf South, Louisiana, and New Orleans. Most materials are available to researchers in our Reading Room.
Prior to opening the WRC, The Historic New Orleans Collection published Manuscripts Division Updatean annual publication to acquaint scholars with the variety and depth of its manuscript collections available for research. Since opening the WRC reference staff have developed pathfinders, to aid researchers in finding materials related to a specific topic. The pathfinders provide links to resources held by THNOC as well as materials held by other institutions. Subject bibliographies of published works relating to New Orleans and the Gulf South have also been created to aid researchers. Databases for finding information and resources inlcude an updated version of Nancy Miller Surrey's Calendar of Mansucripts in Paris Archvies and Libraries Relating to the History of the Mississippi Valley to 1803, The Collins C. Diboll Vieux Carré Digital Survey, The Louisiana Biography and Obituary Index, and the Artist Database. To find what we may hold in relation to your area of interest, please explore the information and links here and our online catalog.
Some highlighted collections include the work of prominent artists and photographers; records from businesses, organizations, and families; and papers and memorabilia related to specific persons, events, or subjects. Click on the links below or do a search in our online catalog.
Notable Manuscript Collections
Paintings and Drawings
- J. D. Edwards, 1831-1900
- Charles L. Franck, 1877-1965
- John Tibule Mendes, 1888-1965
- Daniel Sweeney Leyrer, ca. 1889-1978
- Eugene A. Delcroix, 1892-1967
- Clarence John Laughlin,1905-1985
- Stuart Moore Lynn, 1906-1997
- Sam R. Sutton 1912-1985
- Jules Cahn,1916-1995
- Michael P. Smith, 1937-2008
- Michael A. Smith, 1942-
Architecture and Design
Many of The Collection's vintage prints, maps, and photographs are arranged and accessible via broad topical categories. Click on any of the following categories to find related printed views, original artworks, maps, photographs, and other visual material related to a topic of interest.
The WRC collects and makes available material in microform from other research repositories, publishers, and organizations. Film reels and microfiche can be used on our reader printers. A few examples of materials and collections available in microform include the following:
New Orleans city directories
Louisiana records from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
Louisiana materials from the French National Archives
Louisiana materials from the General Archive of the Indies in Seville, Spain (AGI) and the Cuban National Archives
Louisiana materials from the National Archive of the United Kingdom and other British archives and libraries
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps and other selected atlases
New Orleans newspapers
Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS)
National Register of Historic Places
Cajun Culture Essay
Nous sommes Acadiens. (We are Acadians.) Some outsiders see us as a quaint, virtuous people, spending a great deal of time singing, dancing, praying, and visiting? (Conrad, 1978, p.14). Others see us as independent and unsophisticated. We see ourselves as fun-loving, carefree, happy, proud people who have a great love for our culture. The Acadians were French settlers of eastern Canada who were exiled from their land in the 1750?s. The Acadians are known to have settled in the southern bayou lands of Louisiana around that time. The Acadiana people acquired their nickname, ?Cajuns,? from those people who could not pronounce Acadians correctly. Due to the opinion that Cajuns were ?different?, they lived close together and became isolated from others in Louisiana. They have since developed their own distinct characteristics which make them unique and unlike no others in the bayou state. Family, music, housing, food, marriages, and ?traiteurs? were all a part of the simple but challenging lifestyle of the Cajuns.
The early Cajuns did not have a social life as we know it today. Occasionally, they would attend dances, but family and friends were their main source of fun and relaxation. Because of the hardships of not being able to travel long distances, the Cajuns would gather with family for Sunday dinners and special occasions such as birthdays and holidays. One of their favorite pastimes was to gather, play cards, and sing. The families spent an extreme amount of time together. They shared their thoughts, feelings, and experiences with each other. Most importantly, they needed each other. The desire to be with family is one of the unique factors that has kept the Cajun identity so strong through time and troubles (Hebert, 1997).
Music played an important part in the Cajun?s lifestyle. Cajun music originated in the 1700?s and developed significantly over time. It was the primary pastime of families. The music was original and they were proud of it. The Cajuns sang from the heart, and that is what made the music the best and only one of its kind. They expressed their love, joy, pain, and grief through song. Playing the accordion was an important accompaniment to their singing. This instrument gave Cajun music its remarkable sound and beat. French songs sung by the Cajuns many times reflected their language. Slang phrases such as ?oh-yai-yi?, an expression of grief or pain, and ?Aaeeh? were shouted during the song when no lyrics were sung. One particular phrase used most often in French love songs was ?oh, petite chérie?, which meant ?dear little girl.? A few French songs that became well known around Acadiana in the 1920?s and 1930?s were ?J?ai Passé Devant ta Porte,? (I Passed in Front of Your Door), and ?Saute Crapaud,? (Jump Frog). The most well known Cajun French song ever depicted is ?Jolie Blonde? (Beautiful Blonde). It is popular not only in Acadiana but in many other places outside of Acadiana, Louisiana, and the United...
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