History is an evolving story. Here at The Historic New Orleans Collection, we gather, research, and share artifacts from New Orleans’ many stories, weaving together the people, places, and events that connect us to the city. First Draft gives readers inside access to our vast institutional holdings and staff expertise in a fresh and dynamic way. Read the latest stories below, or scroll down to browse by theme.


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August 3, 2020
By Katherine Jolliff Dunn, cataloger

A new pumping system in the early 20th century improved New Orleans's drainage crisis, decreased disease rates, increased the quality of the water supply, and drove economic growth throughout the city. These improvements, however, came at a mighty cost. 




July 17, 2020
By Emily Perkins, curatorial cataloger

A large photograph album bound in red leather documents a 1906 “quarantine tour” of Central America sponsored by the United Fruit Company during the final outbreak of yellow fever in New Orleans. The book is a fascinating example of the tremendous influence of the banana-import business in early 20th-century New Orleans and the efforts by one company to skirt quarantine regulations.




July 2, 2020
By Dave Walker, communication specialist

When she died in June 2019 at age 96, Leah Chase was celebrated as a New Orleans legend, icon, and inspiration. During research for 2009’s animated The Princess and Frog, directors Ron Clements and John Musker called on Chase’s life story and culinary renown—a journey from French Quarter waitress to James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award recipient—as inspiration for the character of Tiana, Disney’s first African American princess.




June 23, 2020
Pamela D. Arceneaux, senior librarian and rare books curator

Storyville's blue books marketed a fantasy of the red-light district to a white male audience, offering a fascinating, yet limited, window into a demimonde during the rise of consumerism.




June 12, 2020
By Pamela D. Arceneaux, senior librarian/rare books curator

When the City of New Orleans passed an ordinance to remove black prostitutes from Storyville, Willie Piazza fought back. Her challenge to segregation was an early, though fleeting, victory against Jim Crow.




June 5, 2020
By Nina Bozak, library cataloger

Casino Royale became Stormy’s Casino Royale in 1948, named for (but not owned by) its star act, Stacy “Stormy” Lawrence. The club became known for featuring some of the most outlandish acts on Bourbon Street.




June 5, 2020
By Dave Walker, communication specialist

Curator/Historian Eric Seiferth takes us through the music scene on Bourbon Street in the 1950s.




June 3, 2020
By Eli A. Haddow, marketing associate

A new novel and a unique genealogical project are bringing fresh attention to the countless stories of separation and struggle all but forgotten in the tragedy of slavery. 




May 29, 2020
By Keely Merritt, head of photography

The city's second-oldest neighborhood is full of history. All it takes is a walk along the levee to see it. Join THNOC Head of Photography Keely Merrit as she gives us a tour of her neighborhood.




May 15, 2020
By Katherine Jolliff Dunn, cataloger

Myra Clark Gaines was at the center of a 57-year estate battle involving hidden paternity, a destroyed will, and a multimillion-dollar fortune. 




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