Thursday, March 19, 2015

Finding the address of a historical photograph.

For your historical photo research assignment, you will select a photograph from a series of databases provided in Blackboard and revisit that site to photograph it today.

So how do you find the location of a photograph? I have two photos here from Yale's Photogrammar database. Both are FSA photos taken in 1935.

Consider photo number one:

A Walker Evans photograph of New Orleans. Original LOC ref:
If we look at this photograph, we see a number of signs. On the LOC site, you can download a VERY high resolution version of the photo. This will help you read things. First you will notice a street sign that reads "N. Front Street." This narrows things down - you have one of your cross streets already. The next obvious thing to look up is the Sun Coffee Shop in the 1935 city directory. Unfortunately that is not in the directory. Notice the "Luzianne" sign. On the bottom it says "Adams." This we find in the directory:

In the Restaurant heading toward the back of the 1935 City Directory, we find Adams, Albert L. at 215 Canal Street.
If we look at Google Maps, we see that the intersection of N. Front Street and Canal Street no longer exists. The Shops at Canal Place now occupy this site:

Here is the second photograph:

Another Walker Evans image from 1935. Taken on the same day? Link to Photogrammar reference:
This time we have no street sign telling us where this is. But we do have a number of store signs and the 1935 City Directory. From this we learn that the Southern Seed and feed is at 827 Decatur. Here we find it in the alphabetical section of the City Directory.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Reconstruction in New Orleans

Some images for our discussion of Reconstruction. What happened in New Orleans wasn't just interesting, it mattered for the rest of the nation. If you want a short version of Reconstruction in Louisiana, I understand that some really smart guy wrote the entry for KnowLa, the online encyclopedia of Louisiana.

Gustave Fortier, son of Michel Fortier, who dies the same day the Yankees come.
His daughter would not inherit what was left of his estate until 1898.

The image I used on my book jacket. It shows a fireman's parade in 1872. Parades and firemen both played a very different role in the 19th century. Firemen were all volunteer - a professional fire department was a turn of the century invention. You belonged to a volunteer fire company in the same way that you might belong to a club, and all men of even modest standing belonged to SOME form of club in the 19th century. Clubs were social, but they were also political. Above all, if you had a club that was worth anything, it would have an annual parade. Parades were much more common before the emergence of the automobile, but were also an important dimension of the American political experience since the time of the American Revolution. Banners, torches (at night), and yes, marching bands, were essential for a good parade. It was a way of getting your message out to the people. 
H.C. Warmoth, who becomes governor at age 26 in 1868.

P.B.S. Pinchback will become the first "black" governor of Louisiana - for 33 days in 1872-3.

The Mechanics' Institute - Scene of the Riot of 1866 - now roughly where the University Place entrance of the Roosevelt is located.

Below you see an illustration for the famous 1873 parade of the Mistick Krewe of Comus. This image portrays Benjamin Butler. The Krewe parodied a variety of reconstruction era figures in its controversial procession. What does this say about politics, social display, and parades? Know that the title, "missing links" was a play on Darwin.

The U.S. Custom House (now bug museum) as it appears today on Canal Street
The Custom House as it appeared roughly at the time of the Civil War
Eagle Hall - Built during the war - HQ of the Crescent City Democratic Club. Meeting Halls were important in the 19th century urban landscape
The Washington Artillery Hall (center). Notice fire station on right. Located on Girod Street (no longer in existence)

The levee much like it would have appeared in 1874 - though this picture is from around 1885-1890
The tomb of Frederick Nash Ogden

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Civil War Era New Orleans

We have talked a bit in the last blog post about the various ties New Orleans had to regional, national, and international communities, and today we will explore how those ties influenced the trajectory of the Civil War and Reconstruction in the city. 

But as part of Louisiana, New Orleans had but no choice to secede - despite the fact that it voted overwhelmingly for Constitutional Unionist candidate John Bell of Tennessee

Leeds Foundry was symbolic of the antebellum industry found in New Orleans. Today it is the home of the Preservation Resource Center. It was to make two gunboats, the Mississippi and the Louisiana, but only partially finished the Louisiana before it was done. Confederate naval authorities towed the unfinished vessel to the site of Forts Jackson and St. Philip where it was of limited value during the naval battle that decided the military fate of New Orleans. We can discuss this action best while looking at an aerial view of where the action took place.

The diary of Julia LeGrand covers this tumultuous time in New Orleans history. How does this woman feel about events as she sees them unfold? Interestingly, I met a graduate student this weekend at a conference who wrote a master's thesis on Julia LeGrand's experience, which you can find here

Benjamin Butler was unpopular for a lot of reasons. He was a mediocre general. But he as a pretty good administrator, he was politically powerful, and he was lucky. His successor, Nathaniel P. Banks was similar in many regards, but was from a different political party and decidedly not lucky. Had he been a military genius, perhaps he could have been President of the United States. We'll talk about both of these men in the context of New Orleans and especially the remarkable social movements that began on account of the war.
An interesting link about Black Confederates and the falsification of a photograph of the 1st Louisiana Native Guard.

Lastly, some great images of Civil War Era New Orleans from Dr. Glen Cangelosi on his site about the Washington Artillery.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Antebellum New Orleans: Immigrant City, Creole City, Southern City.


The Irish and Germans were the two largest non-French immigrant groups to come to New Orleans before the Civil War. As it had been for the immigrants who came before them, the reason for their arrival stemmed from problems in the homeland. Poverty and revolution were two recurring themes of this period.

The first significant Irish to come to New Orleans actually did so at the very end of the eighteenth century. These were the "old" Irish. They came in the wake of the failed uprising of the "United Irishmen." Seeking refuge in a Catholic, Spanish New World possession, these arrivals tended to be well educated and/or came from the upper classes. Many would thrive in New Orleans and adopt, ironically, to a slave economy.

Poverty began to drive out the poorer Irish steadily in the 1820s, with the potato blight of the 1840s forming an exclamation point on the migration to the western hemisphere. The Irish have a memorial in New Orleans at West End, the terminus of what was once the New Basin Canal. The canal was dug in the 1830s to facilitate lakeward commerce. It connected the lake with what is today the location of the Amtrak/Grayhound bus terminal in the Central Business District. The lore is that the Irish dug the canal because they represented a lower cost of labor than slaves. Why might also free laborers be more attractive in the city proper?

Loyola students at St. Alphonsus
St Patrick's Church, to which you should all make a visit, is a manifestation of the combination of the "old" Irish and "new" Irish, but in reality, really more the "old" Irish. St. Alphonsus in the Irish Channel is the church of the later, or new Irish. Today, St. Alphonsus is operated as a cultural center.

NOTE: There is an opportunity on Wednesday, March 11, 6 to 8 pm, to go to St. Alphonsus for "fun under the frescoes." This will include Irish Music, Irish Dancing, and alcohol!!! Check out the Facebook page for it.  I will allow you to make up a reading assignment if you shoot a selfie, write a paragraph about your experience.

The "Germans," - really a collection of various Central European peoples, but primarily Germanic nations, fled to New Orleans and elsewhere from political upheaval surrounding the reactionary crackdown against the revolutions of 1848. Like the "old" Irish, this first wave of Germans included many thinkers and professionals. Unlike the "old" Irish, they did not take so fully to the slave system. Theirs was a more evolved form of republicanism. Visiting radicals like the Hungarian Louis Kossuth helped these migrants stay connected to their homelands. A great many of these Germanic immigrants were also Jewish, strengthening an already significant segment of the New Orleans community. More Germans come later in the 1880s, and we'll talk about them later on in the semester.

Literally across the street from St. Alphonsus, the Germans had their own Catholic church, St. Mary's Assumption.

St Mary's Assumption - just right across the street from
St. Alphonsus. The "German" Church.
A detail from the stained glass in St. Mary's 

Most famously illustrating the role of the German community was the celebrated case of Sally Miller or Salomé Müller. It was just one of many cases that illustrated the conflicts inherent in the slave system and mixed-race slaves.

Many Germans also settled in what is today considered the Marigny and especially Bywater neighborhoods. Today you can visit what was once the German Holy Trinity Church which operates as the Marigny Opera House.  Attend any of their events and I will allow you to make up a reading assignment. Remember, shoot a selfie, write a paragraph about your experience.

Politics, Politics.

Throughout all of the growth New Orleans witnessed, the municipal boundaries changed a bit, including a variety of political re-mappings during the nineteenth century, but none were more acrimonious than the three municipalities of 1836-1847.

Part of the division of the city in 1836 is that the Creoles had begun losing control of the city socially and politically to the immigrants and the Americans, so they wanted to create a portion of the city that they controlled. This meant three sets of courts, three councils, three police departments. It was a real mess. The city reconsolidated in 1852.

When we mean "Creole" by 1836, we must acknowledge in modern parlance that we are talking about white Creole society and Creoles of color.

Speaking of Creoles of Color, here is the picture of Edmund Gustave Fortier, the one I told you about in class. The picture dates from the early 1850s. Gustave Fortier is representative of this unusual class in New Orleans. Many were wealthy, most educated or had trades. In fact, specific trades such as shoes, cigars, plaster, masonry, and many butchers were free people of color. Some of you noticed that there were even people of color who owned slaves at this time. We'll talk about that.

At the same time that all of this immigration is happening, making the city seem more like a northern town (it's the only significant site of immigration in the South), economically, New Orleans is becoming more integrated with the region.

This integration has everything to do with agriculture, finance, and slavery. New Orleans will be the hub of cotton and sugar trading and warehousing for the vast Mississippi Valley. Both of these commodities will be extremely profitable in the 1840s and 1850s as textile manufacturing expands rapidly in the North, and in particular, Northeast. Much of the cotton land of the West was still being cleared and planted by southerners who were headed west in search of better land.

New Orleans became the largest slave mart in America, supplying this large westward push with labor. Consider that the Mississippi Delta, some of the richest soil in the world.... WORLD... had mostly not been cleared by the time that the Civil War began.

Lastly, New Orleans became the banking hub of the region, and on the eve of the Civil War, was nearly 170,000 people in size. The next largest southern town was Charleston, and it boasted just over 40,000 people.