The Louisiana Research Collection (LaRC) documents a wide variety of subjects at the local and regional level. Subject strengths include art, business, Carnival, the Civil War, the environment, Jewish studies, LGBTQ+ studies, medicine, politics, social welfare, literature, and women's studies.
Tulane University’s archival program began on May 3, 1889, when Marie Antoinette Eulalie Courmes Dolhonde presented to the Charles T. Howard Memorial Library a letter from Thomas Jefferson to M. duPlantier. That donation marked the beginning of what came to be the Louisiana Research Collection (LaRC).
In 1938 the Howard Library, the Newcomb Library from Newcomb College, and Tilton Library from Tulane University merged to form Tulane’s Howard-Tilton Memorial Library (HTML). The Howard Library opened in 1889 and while privately held, functioned as the city library for New Orleans. Its holdings are largely why LaRC today preserves one of the finest 19th century Louisiana libraries.
While the Howard Library, the Newcomb Library, the Tilton Library, and the merged Howard-Tilton Memorial Library (HTML) had all intermittently acquired Louisiana research materials, in 1956 HTML hired Consuelo “Connie” Garza Griffith as its first person specifically charged with overseeing archival and special collections. The new Special Collections department initially had three sections: Rare Books, the Manuscripts Department (for archival collections) and the Louisiana Collection (for books and other printed resources about Louisiana). Those departments were soon followed by the Hogan Jazz Archive (1958), the Tulane University Archives (1962), and the Southeastern Architectural Archive (1979).
In 2009 the Manuscripts Department and Louisiana Collection merged to form the Louisiana Research Collection (LaRC). In the more than 120 years since its initial donation, the Louisiana Research Collection has grown to encompass almost four linear miles of archival documents, books, maps, images, ephemera, and other resources central to the study of Louisiana.
Selected noteworthy holdings include:
- Carnival. LaRC's Carnival Collection preserves invitations, dance cards, and other paper ephemera from more than 200 Carnival krewes going back to the founding of Carnival in New Orleans. Additionally, LaRC preserves more than 5,600 pre-WWII original float and costume designs, comprising the largest design collection from the Golden Age of Carnival, all of which are available online. Learn more about our Carnival collection.
- Civil War. In addition to the papers of Confederate leaders such as Albert Sidney Johnston, Stonewall Jackson, and William Preston Johnson, LaRC preserves extensive letters and diaries of Louisiana Confederate soldiers and Union soldiers serving in Louisiana. Explore our Union holdings online.
- Jewish Studies. LaRC is the official archives for most area synagogues, including Chevra Thilim, Gates of Prayer, Temple Sinai, and Touro Synagogue; and for many local Jewish social welfare organizations, including the Jewish Children’s Home, Jewish Family Service, Jewish Federation, and Louisiana Federation of Temple Sisterhoods.
- LGBTQ. LaRC is the official archives for theLGBTQ Community Center of New Orleans. LaRC also preserves papers of prominent activists, including Rich Magill, Skip Ward, Stewart Butler, and Frank Perez; the records of LGBTQ rights organizations including New Orleans PFLAG, the Inter-Faith Council for Equality, Southeastern Association of Lesbian and Gay Organizations; Gay Carnival krewe records; and Louisiana LGBTQ publications and flyers.
- Politics. LaRC’s holdings include the papers of many elected officials, including Senators Huey P. Long, and David Vitter; Members of Congress Lindy Boggs, House Majority Leader Hale Boggs and David Treen; New Orleans Mayors Victor Schiro and “Chep” Morrison; the records of political organizations, including the League of Women Voters, and the Jefferson Democratic Association; and campaign flyers and brochures from 1860 to the present. Learn more about our campaign flyers here.
- Southern Literature. LaRC’s holdings of Louisiana authors include the papers of Anne Rice, Roark Bradford, Catharine Brosman, Ben Lucien Burman, George Washington Cable, Charles L. Dufour, Frances Parkinson Keyes, Ruth McEnery Stuart, and John Kennedy Toole. The John Kennedy Toole papers are available online.
- Women's History. Among LaRC’s holdings are the personal papers of Bessie Margolin, Martha G. Robinson, Hilda Phelps Hammond, Ethel Hutson, Angela Gregory, as well as the records of women’s organizations such as the Quarante Club, the YWCA, the Independent Women’s Organization, the Friday Afternoon Club, the Women’s Exchange, and the National Council of Jewish Women.