Thursday, January 23, 2014

New Digital Resource: Crescent City Pictorial

Amistad staff are pleased to announce a new digital resource created at Amistad in partnership with the Tulane University Digital Library.

In 1926, former educator and newspaper publisher O. C. W. (Orlando Capitola Ward) Taylor published a 28-page souvenir booklet dedicated "to the Progress of the Colored Citizens of New Orleans, Louisiana," "America's Most Interesting City."  The Crescent City Pictorial was designed by O. T. Griffin and featured the photography of noted early twentieth century New Orleans photographer Villard Paddio.  This largely visual publication features images of homes of noted African American New Orleanians, busineses, schools, churches, and social organizations, and serves as one of the best visual documents of African American middle and upper class life in that time period.

Businesses include the United Industrial Life Insurance Company, Carr & Llopis Undertakers, Dorsey's Valeteria, Flint-Goodridge Hospital, Geddes & Moss Undertaking and Embalming, George D. Geddes Co. Morticians, Astoria Hotel & Restaurant, as well as pharmacies, photography studios, and mercantile companies.  Social organizations, such as the San Jacinto Club, People's Community Center, Pythian Temple, the Autocrat Social & Pleasure Club, and Lions Club, are also featured, as well as various schools, including New Orleans College, Xavier University, Straight College, and other elementary and secondary schools.

The Crescent City Pictorial is a truly rare book, with the only reported holdings at Amistad and LSU.  We are happy to share this important resource with the public as well work to create similar digital resources over the next couple years.

Image from the Crescent City Pictorial and may not be reproduced without permission. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Help Support Amistad's Expansion of Music-related Holdings with Hiphop Collections

The Amistad Research Center is a wonderful resource for researchers interested in African American musicians and vocal artists. The Center holds the personal papers of concert and operatic stars such as William Warfield, Carol Brice, Anne Wiggins Brown, Camilla Williams, Annabelle Bernard, Mattiwilda Dobbs, and Thomas Carey. Jazz music is well-documented in the papers of Ellis Marsalis Jr. and Harold Battiste, while the topic of music education is found within the papers of Lucile Hutton and Mildred Katharine Ellis. And there is so much more.

Amistad is currently expanding its music-related collections into new genres -- hiphop and bounce music. Recent donations, described below, have placed the Center at the forefront of efforts to document and preserve materials that chronicle the development of these genres in New Orleans. 

Holly Hobbs, a Ph.D. student at Tulane University working on a dissertation on post-Katrina New Orleans hiphop and recovery has begun donating video interviews gathered as part of The NOLA Hiphop Archive. The Archive was founded in 2012 as an effort to collect, document, and make accessible to the public the oral histories of New Orleans’ influential rappers, producers and DJs who helped to create and popularize hiphop and bounce music traditions in the city and beyond. The collection currently holds more than 30 videotaped interviews with the city’s hiphop and bounce artists and pioneers, including Mannie Fresh, Mystikal, Partners N Crime, Dee-1, Ricky B, DJ Raj Smoove, Nesby Phips, Nicky da B & Rusty Lazer, and Queen Blackkold Madina, star of the Academy Award-winning Katrina documentary, Trouble theWater.

Complementing the Hiphop Archive is a portion of audio interviews recorded as part of the Where They At bounce project. The Where They At project was begun in 2008 by photographer Aubrey Edwards and journalist Alison Fensterstock, with the assistance of a grant from the Greater New Orleans Foundation. It collected over 50 photographic portraits and audio interviews with New Orleans rappers, DJs, producers, photographers, label owners, promoters, record store personnel, journalists and other parties involved in the New Orleans hip-hop and bounce scene from the late 1980s through Hurricane Katrina, as well as ephemera including original fliers, posters, vintage photographs and an extensive collection of record, CD and cassette tape scans. In a multimedia exhibition form, Where They At was presented at the Smithsonian-affiliated Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Austin’s Birdhouse Gallery and SXSW festival, Minneapolis’ Soap Factory, New York City’s Abrons Art Center and the Direktorenhaus in Berlin, Germany. It currently lives in online form at Amistad currently houses 19 audio interviews and 37 interview transcripts as part of the Where They At collection.

Preliminary descriptions of the collections at Amistad can be found in Amistad's online finding aid database: NOLA Hiphop Archive Project Collection and Where They At CollectionIn Spring 2014, Amistad will work with our donors and Tulane University’s Digital Library to launch the community-accessible NOLA Hiphop and Bounce Archive , which will provide online access to the NOLA Hiphop Archive video interviews and portions of the Where They At audio interviews.

To support this digital initiative and to assist in the collection of an additional 30 new videotaped oral histories, a Kickstarter campaign has been launched by the NOLA Hiphop Archive. A portion of the proceeds of this campaign will assist with the foundation of a public audiovisual station in Amistad's Reading Room. With its “all-or-nothing” funding model, Kickstarter campaigns are limited in time and in the targeted funding amount. With a goal of concluding the campaign prior to the Christmas holiday, an expedited 20-day campaign is being conducted. Please consider donating, sending to your friends and family, sharing via social media, or any other assistance you are able to provide. A donation of any amount toward the successful goal will help to further document and provide support and recognition for these important members of the New Orleans creative community and beyond. More info on the NOLA Hiphop Archive is available via the video below.

Posted by Christopher Harter

Monday, November 25, 2013

Amistad Remembers T.J. Jemison (1918-2013)

Rev. T.J. Jemison
Louisiana lost a pioneer and champion of civil rights with the death of the Rev. T.J. (Theodore Judson) Jemison on November 15, 2013. Jemison, architect of the 1953 Baton Rouge bus boycott and co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957, spent the last 50+ years of his life advocating equality through nonviolence from his pulpit at the Mount Zion Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

In February 1953, the Baton Rouge City Council proposed a fare hike on the city’s busses that the majority of the African American population used. Jemison opposed the hike and requested to the City Council that they forgo it; he also asked that Baton Rouge end the practice of reserved seating for whites on its city’s busses. The Baton Rouge City Council initially agreed to a compromise for Ordinance 222 in which African Americans could sit in any seat as long as it was neither next to, nor in front of a white person. Yet, the council never enforced this code. By June 1953, Baton Rouge’s African American community had enough and Jemison, along with activists Willis Reed and Raymond Scott, initiated an eight-day boycott of Baton Rouge’s public transportation services. As John G. Lewis, Jr., Grand Master of the Prince Hall Masons of Louisiana, noted in a letter of 25 June 1953 to Julius A. Thomas of the National Urban League, three days into the boycott:

It would take many words to tell the story of the bus situation here. I have never seen negroes demonstrate so fully and completely that they are tired of being pushed around. Example: the committee of the Defense League has just left my office to make a deposit of $6484.16 which was raised at two mass meetings for the purpose of providing free rides to all bus patrons. That’s dam [sic] good for a small community. The no ride policy has been 100 per cent effective.

Within eight days of the of the boycott’s commencement, the protesters and City Council again reached a compromise that allowed African Americans to sit anywhere according to the original scope of Ordinance 222, in addition to having the first two seats of a bus be reserved for whites and the last row be reserved for African Americans, thus ending the boycott. This event would have national implications as the Baton Rouge bus boycott laid the foundation for the Montgomery bus boycott that would take place three years later.
Amistad’s holdings relating to the Prince Hall Masons of Louisiana contain references to Jemison’s work and activism, some of his correspondence, and images relating to his career.

Posted by Melissa Smith

(Image from the M.W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge F. & A. M. of Louisiana records. May not be reproduced without permission.)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Galangue Station: An Early African American Mission in Angola

This booklet is a report from
the Willis F. Pierce Memorial
Hospital at the Galangue
Mission. It was read before
a medical convention in 1939.
A small, but significant, series within the J. Taylor and Kathryn T. Stanley papers documents the Galangue Mission, which, in 1923, was the first mission founded and staffed by African Americans in Angola and was administered by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). This series consists primarily of correspondence, dating mostly from 1923-1927, with some additional letters from 1938-1955. Principal correspondents include missionaries Samuel B. Coles, Henry C. McDowell, and William C. Bell, as well as ABCFM treasurer Harold B. Belcher and secretary of the Angola Sustaining Committee Alfred K. Lawless. In their letters, the missionaries report on their efforts and activities, as well as local communities and their travels. A significant portion of the correspondence also concerns financial support for the mission.

Other records concerning the mission include administrative reports, financial documents, and publications regarding the ABCFM's work in Africa. Reports highlight a hospital founded at the mission, the Galangue Church, and Samuel B. Coles' agricultural work at the mission. Rev. Coles' work is also documented in a small collection of his papers at Amistad. 

Below are selections that document the work and ministry at the Galangue Mission.

This January 1924 letter was written soon after the arrival of Rev. and Mrs.
Samuel B. Coles tothe Galangue Mission. Rev. Coles spent nearly 30 years in Angola,
which was documented in his book Preacher with a Plow.

A report from the American Board of
Commissioners for Foreign Missions on efforts
in Angola, circa 1930s.
A biographical note on Rev. and Mrs. Henry C. McDowell,
co-founders of the Galangue Mission.
Posted by Christopher Harter

(Images from the J. Taylor and Kathryn T. Stanley Papers. May not be reproduced without permission.)

Finding aid for J. Taylor and Kathryn T. Stanley Papers Now Online

Kathryn T. and J. Taylor
The finding aid for the J. Taylor and Kathryn T. Stanley papers is now online. The collection pertains to the development of Black Congregational and Christian churches in the southern United States during the early to mid-twentieth century, and is a wonderful resource for anyone studying African American religious life. Apart from the personal papers of the Stanleys, the collection also contains numerous collected items gathered by J. Taylor Stanley in his role as church leader and scholar. These include photographs, reports, publications, and ephemera, administrative records, programs, and memberships lists for various churches, conferences, and instrumentalities of the United Church of Christ and its predecessors.

The Rev. Dr. J. Taylor Stanley and his wife, Kathryn (nee Turrentine) were both born in Alabama and educated in schools operated by the American Missionary Association. He graduated from Howard University Divinity School in 1925, and, throughout their lives, the Stanleys served Congregational churches in Nashville, Tennessee; Wilmington, North Carolina; and Dudley, North Carolina. In 1924, she became the first African American extension worker appointed by the Congregational Sunday School Extension Society. In 1942, he became Superintendent of the Southeast Region of Congregational Christian Churches, a region that spanned from Virginia to Texas. Dr. Stanley was also a founding Conference Minister of the Convention of the South, which was the Black jurisdiction of the United Church of Christ. When the Congregational Christian Churches merged with the Evangelical and Reformed Churches in 1957, Dr. Stanley supported the inclusion of churches in the Black jurisdiction in integrated conferences across the South.

More information about the Stanleys and their papers can be found in the online finding aid.

Board of Trustees of the Convention of the South,
circa 1950s-early 1960s.
Posted by Christopher Harter

(Images from the J. Taylor and Kathryn T. Stanley papers. May not be reproduced without permission.)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Center to Host Book Sale, November 1-2

The Amistad Research Center will host a used book sale of duplicate copies and "out-of-scope" titles on Friday, November 1 and Saturday, November 2. The sale will be from 9am to 4pm both days. Discover used books on a range of topics, including the Civil Rights Movement, Slavery and Abolition, Military, Religion, Art, Poetry and Drama, Reference, Music, Politics and Government, Africa, Medicine, Biography, and more! All proceeds will benefit Amistad's book acquisition fund and preservation efforts.

$3 Hardcovers
$1 Paperbacks
$.50 Magazines
*Special items*
*Posters and MORE!*

Where: Amistad Research Center, 
            Tilton Memorial Hall on the campus of Tulane University
            6823 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, LA 70118

When: Friday, November 1, 9am-4pm
           Saturday, November 2, 9am-4pm

For more information, contact 504-862-3222 or

Friday, September 13, 2013

Reactions to the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing

This Sunday, September 15th, marks 50 years since four little girls--Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley -- were tragically killed during the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church by the Ku Klux Klan in Birmingham, Alabama. The savagery of their deaths sparked grief, anger, and protests throughout the nation, as evidenced by these items housed in the Eric Steele Wells papers at the Amistad Research Center.

This flyer is for a "National Day of Mourning for the Children of Birmingham"
held in New York City on September 22, 1963.

This armband was likely worn during the protest advertised in the flyer above.

This flyer strikes a more angry tone than the one above and
specifically faults President John F. Kennedy for his lack of response

More information on these documents can be found in Amistad's new digital collection "Print Culture and the Civil Rights Movement, 1950-1980," which can be viewed through the Louisiana Digital Library.

Posted by Christopher Harter
(Images from the Eric Steele Wells Papers. May not be reproduced without permission.)