The Williams Research Center (WRC) offers scholars access to extensive collections related to the Gulf South, particularly New Orleans and Louisiana. The WRC's 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, theatre programs, and periodicals; more than two linear miles of documents and manuscripts; and approximately 350,000 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, 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.
To find what the Williams Research Center may hold in relation to your area of interest, please explore the information and links below.
SELECTED MATERIALS AND COLLECTIONS
Some highlighted collections include the work of prominent artists and photographers, records from businessess, organizations, and families, and papers and memorabilia related to specific persons, events, or subjects. Click on the links below for more information about the examples shown, or do a search in our online catalogue.
Maps from the 16th century through the 20th century
Pre-Civil War photographs by J. D. Edwards
Photographs by Clarence John Laughlin, Eugene Delcroix, John T. Mendes, Jules Cahn, and Michael P. Smith
Commercial photographs by Charles L. Franck, Stuart M. Lynn, Sam R. Sutton,
and Daniel S. Leyrer
Michael A. Smith photographs of New Orleans in the 1980s
Watercolors by Boyd Cruise and Charles Reinike.
Jules Lion lithographs
Prints and drawings by Alfred R. Waud, Morris Henry Hobbs, and Caroline Durieux
Paintings by José Francisco Xavier de Salazar y Mendoza, Jean Joseph Vaudechamp, Ellsworth Woodward, and Josephine Crawford.
Designs of Mardi Gras costumes and floats (1860s to the present)
Architectural drawings by Jacques N. B. de Pouilly, James Gallier, Sr. and James Gallier, Jr.
Rare books including Hennepin's Description de la Louisiane (1683), Joutel's Journal Historique (1713), and Het Groote Tafereel der Dwasheid (1720), as well as Les Cenelles (1845), the earliest volume of published poetry by African-Americans in the United States
Rare printed broadsides concerning politics, public events, and performances
Original correspondence and papers from important figures such as Pierre Clément de Laussat, William C. C. Claiborne, Andrew Jackson, Judah P. Benjamin, Eliza Jane Nicholson, and Tennessee Williams.
Records of African American troops in Louisiana during the Civil War
Materials relating to performing arts in New Orleans
Materials relating to free colored persons in Louisiana
Sheet music collections
German community records
Survey of Historic New Orleans Cemeteries
18th and 19th century land survey records
Examples of Newcomb Pottery
William Russell Jazz Collection
Fred W. Todd Tennessee Williams Collection
William C. Cook War of 1812 in the South Collection
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 Williams Research Center 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:
New Orleans City directories
Louisiana records from the U. S. National Archives (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
National Register of Historic Places
ONLINE GUIDES AND COLLECTIONS
The Historic New Orleans Collection and the Williams Research Center strives to make more of its collections available online, whether via research guides, indexes to collections, or providing digital surrogates. Some of the guides and collections are available via the links below. Our Digital Collections page has links to these and other resources.
Battle of New Orleans Pathfinder
Germans in Louisiana Pathfinder
Tennesee Williams Pathfinder
Franck-Bertacci Collection 1956-90 (Photographs from Charles L. Franck Photography Studio mostly of construction and Real Estate but includes portraiture, aerial views and accident scene photography.)
Manuscript Division Update, vols. 1-13
William Russell Jazz Collection (scope and content notes)
William Russell an annotated bibliography