Friday, January 6, 2023

The Historic New Orleans Collection is your destination for all things Carnival! Get in the spirit of the season with exclusive video content, interviews with culture bearers, archival footage, and selections from our First Draft blog, below.

Header image: Proteus 1906 Carnival Bulletin, The Times Picayune, 1906. Lithograph by T. Fitzwilliam & Company (THNOC # 1980.192.19)

Video Series: "Black Indians from New Orleans in Paris"

In early 2023, we visited Paris to experience "Black Indians from New Orleans," on view at the Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac. A collaboration between the museum and New Orleans institutions (including THNOC), the exhibition explored Black Masking Indian traditions of the Crescent City—from Mardi Gras and beyond. Watch the full series on YouTube.

Episode 1: The Exhibition

Episode 2: France and Louisiana - Unmasking Cultural Connections

Episode 3: Translating a Unique New Orleans Tradition for Europeans

Episode 4: The Challenges of Curating Complex Histories

Making Mardi Gras: 2022 Symposium

Our 2022 Williams Research Center Virtual Symposium celebrated the culture bearers who bring us “The Greatest Free Show on Earth.” Watch the full playlist on YouTube.

Symposium Playlist:

Symposium Highlights:

Made by Hand: The History and Artistry of Rex Floats

In Conversation with Big Chiefs: Traditions and Music of Mardi Gras Indians

The Children of Yuga: A Brief History of the Birth of Gay Carnival

Making Marching Bands: How Music Education Creates the Heartbeat of Mardi Gras

Video Series: Explore Mardi Gras

Dive into the history and traditions of Mardi Gras past—from archival footage of crowds of Carnivals past to Mardi Indian chiefs sharing their stories. Watch the full playlist on YouTube.

Archival Footage: Mardi Gras is the Greatest Free Show On Earth

Mardi Gras Indian Culture, Described by Jazz Great Danny Barker

Big Chief Bo Dollis Talks about Mardi Gras Indian Suits (1983 interview)

Big Chief Bo Dollis on Mardi Gras Indian Dancing (1983 interview)

Vintage Mardi Gras Parades

Rex Parades throughout History

Festive First Draft Reads

Browse past posts from our First Draft blog exploring every aspect of Carnival in the Crescent City—from second lines to fashion—below!


Preserving the Pretty

Preserving the pretty: New resource helps preserve Black Masking Indian suits

Learn about the work that goes into preserving delicate items like beautifully-beaded Mardi Gras Indian suits. Read more

Carnival Couture

Carnival couture: Eight Mardi Gras fashion designs inspired by history, pop culture, and even architecture

Explore how fashion has played a role in the design of Carnival costumes since the early years of Mardi Gras. Read more

North Side Skull and Bones Gang

North Side Skull and Bone Gang's Mardi Gras morning reminder: "You next!"

For two centuries, the North Side Skull and Bone Gang has signaled the start of Mardi Gras Day, waking the spirits and serving as a reminder to live well before death. Read more

Black debutantes

New Orleans's Black debutante tradition defied Jim Crow and continues to build community

Learn about how the Black debutantes tradition served as a powerful rebuke to the social norms of Jim Crow-era New Orleans. Read more

Mardi Gras Krewe FAQs

Krewe FAQ: Inside New Orleans’s secretive Carnival organizations and their parades

Get answers to your burning Carnival krewe questions answered in with our Frequently Asked Questions. Read more

Carnival artistry in 9 photos

The breadth of Carnival artistry in nine photographs

Nine photos capture the otherwise ephemeral beauty of a float, a dance routine, or a Black Masking Indian’s suit. Read more

DJ Soul Sister

Deep cuts for Carnival: DJ Soul Sister gets personal for her Mardi Gras playlist

New Orleans's popular DJ shares her Mardi Gras playlist of favorite tunes and forgotten classics. Read more

Mardi Gras Doubloons

Remembered as the “father of the Mardi Gras doubloon,” H. Alvin Sharpe was much more

Beyond inventing the Mardi Gras doubloon, learn about the man behind the concept of signature throws for Mardi Gras krewes. Read more

How to catch beads

How to catch beads during Mardi Gras (no, not that way)

Uptown or downtown? Sidewalk side or neutral ground? Check out our tips and tricks for catching throws at Carnival. Read more

House floats

14 eye-catching house floats—and why they’re historically significant

House floats replaced parade floats during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they're not new to New Orleans's Carnival history. Read more


Carnival Canceled

Carnival canceled? 14 years in history when parades didn't roll

From natural disasters, to wars, to pandemics, learn about the fascinating points in history when Mardi Gras was canceled. Read more

Golden Age of Carnival

Looking at the obscure—and sometimes disturbing—lore from the “Golden Age of Carnival”

Many parade themes from the 1880s would be incomprehensible or even offensive today, as products of the politics, trends, and events of their time. Read more

JiveAss Shoes for Carnival

For the perfect fit, they went to the JiveAss Shoemaker

Calvin Dayes, "The JiveAss Shoemaker," made shoes fit for royalty—from Carnival kings to children in need. Read more

Throw me somethin' mister

Throw me somethin' mister! The history behind New Orleans Mardi Gras throws

Interpretation assistant Kurt Owens gives us a brief history of Carnival throws, including the most prized throw of Mardi Gras, the Zulu coconut. Read more

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