attic stairs of 722 Toulouse St. New Orleans, LA 70130In 1939 Tennessee Williams was living in an attic apartment at 722 Toulouse Street in the Vieux Carré, in what he called the “poetic evocation of all the cheap rooming houses of the world” (Vieux Carré 4). Kemper and Leila Williams (no relation to Tennessee) had recently purchased and were renovating the circa 1794 property just around the corner at 533 Royal Street, which backed into the 722 Toulouse domain. In 1945, the Williamses purchased the “poetic evocation” and appropriately dubbed it the “garage apartment.” Little did they know at the time that among its former tenants was someone who would become one of the most notable literary figures in the world, and that his legacy, and their own, would one day be intertwined.

In the mid-1990s, The Collection began actively collecting materials related Tennessee Williams and his legacy. With the acquisition of the Fred W. Todd Tennessee Williams Collection in 2001, the institution became one of the major repositories for Tennessee Williams materials.

Explore the early acquisitions, Todd Collection, and recent acquisitions that make up THNOC’s Tennessee Williams materials. These materials continue to grow. Items are added on a regular basis, and a vertical file has been established to house incoming ephemeral material related to Williams and Williams-inspired productions. Additionally, the THNOC library staff has undertaken the formidable task of assembling theses and dissertations that relate to Williams and his work. As Todd continues to build on his legacy, he helps to fulfill the dream of Kemper and Leila Williams when they conceived of The Historic New Orleans Collection. With its research facility, exhibit programs, and, most recently, through its involvement with the Tennessee Williams Annual Review, The Collection hopes to continue to contribute to Tennessee Williams’s growing cultural legacy.