Read what THNOC reads! Join us as we read and discuss books related to the history of New Orleans. Participate in virtual book discussions with staff, authors, and fellow readers! 

Our founders, Kemper and Leila Williams, demonstrated a keen sense of civic responsibility to preserve the history and culture of New Orleans. Sometimes that means that it is our mission to provoke discussion as well. In that spirit, we present the Fine Print Book Club (FPBC) and we invite you to read alongside THNOC staff as we aim to fulfill our founders’ mission. 

The FPBC is an informal learning program intended to promote dialogue and connections within our community through shared reading. We will meet approximately six times per year, but you can come, go, and participate as you please. Books and topics will vary from popular to academic, but each reading will center upon building and reevaluating our knowledge of New Orleans history and culture. The schedule will be announced well in advance so that everyone has plenty of time to find and read the book. We will send discussion prompts to facilitate dialogue along the way. 

Participation in the Fine Print Book Club is free, but participants are expected to obtain their own copy of each title, and registration is required. Sessions will be conducted on Zoom, so keep an eye on your inbox the day before for an access link. 

Please email for more information on the Fine Print Book Club.

St. James Cheese Company New Orleans
St. James Cheese Company has curated a signature THNOC cheese and wine box option for all registrants for The Fine Print Book Club. Details available in your registration confirmation email.





Wednesday, January 27, 2021, at 7 p.m. Central Time

Slavery’s Metropolis: Unfree Labor in New Orleans during the Age of Revolutions by Rashauna Johnson
In the early 19th century, slaves made up one-third of the New Orleans population. In contrast to the typical conception of rural plantation slavery in the emergent Deep South, daily experiences of slavery in New Orleans were global, interconnected, and transient, a function of New Orleans’s location at the crossroads of Early America and the Atlantic World. Slavery’s Metropolis uses slave circulations between 1791 and 1825 to map the sociocultural history of enslaved people in New Orleans, using the concepts of space and place as a lens for discussion. Johnson is a previous winner of THNOC’s Williams Prize, and currently teaches at the University of Chicago.

Slavery's Metropolis is available at the New Orleans Public Library and can be purchased at major online retailers and these local book sellers: 




In our upcoming one-hour discussion, we’ll only be able to scratch the surface of topics we could cover in this book. Similarly, we are aware that not everyone will get through it in its entirety—and that’s okay! Let the following prompts and concepts guide your reading as we prepare for our virtual book club.



  • What question(s) do you have for the author?
  • How did this book challenge your conceptions of slavery?
  • How did slaveholders profit from the mobility of the people they enslaved?
  • What are some ways in which enslaved convicts built the city of New Orleans?
  • What does freedom mean in a slave society?



  • Urban vs. rural
  • Containment and oversight
  • “Global, interconnected, and transient”
  • Mapping social history  


Cover of Monumental: Oscar Dunn and his Radical Fight in Reconstruction LouisianaMARCH

Wednesday, March 31, 2021, at 7 p.m. Central Time

Monumental: Oscar Dunn and His Radical Fight in Reconstruction Louisiana by Brian K. Mitchell, Barrington S. Edwards, and Nick Weldon

Monumental tells, for the first time, the incredible story of Oscar Dunn, who rose from slavery to become America’s first Black lieutenant governor and acting governor.

The culmination of years of research by one of Dunn’s own descendants, Brian K. Mitchell, this graphic history reveals groundbreaking details about an American icon overlooked for generations. Emancipated at age ten, Dunn worked as a plasterer and musician before opening an agency to assist freedmen, who later came out in force to elect him lieutenant governor of Louisiana in 1868. Dunn championed universal male suffrage, civil rights, and integrated public schools—radical stances that might have contributed to his mysterious death in office. New Orleans mourned him with one of the largest funerals in its history, but a proposed monument to Dunn never materialized, and the earliest scholars of the Reconstruction era relegated him to the shadows of history. No longer.

Illustrator Barrington S. Edwards breathes life into Mitchell’s scholarship, and additional essays and other materials explore the scenes in even greater depth. Monumental recounts a uniquely American story about determination, scandal, betrayal—and how one man’s principled fight may have cost him everything.

Monumental is the first graphic history to be published by The Historic New Orleans Collection, and it is now available for purchase from The Shop at The Collection, independent book stores, and major online retailers. Registration for this event, which will feature Brian K. Mitchell and Nick Weldon, is now open. Discussion prompts will be posted at a later date. 





We are deeply grateful to have you as a part of the THNOC community. If you are able, we hope you will consider becoming a member or making a donation to help sustain the Fine Print Book Club and programs like it.