Tulane University Special Collections materials spotlighted at historic, newly reopened Dew Drop Inn

Archival photographs and oral history interviews are among featured items on display

Tulane University Special Collections (TUSC) is delighted to announce a new collaboration with the historic Dew Drop Inn of New Orleans, which reopens on March 1, 2024, after years of closure. As part of the collaboration, the newly redeveloped Dew Drop Inn will feature displays of archival materials from TUSC holdings.

Among the featured items are images of the Dew Drop Inn in the 1950s from the Ralston Crawford collection of New Orleans jazz photographs, and original footage directed by filmmaker Julia Dorn in 2004 and early 2005 for her independently produced documentary, The Legend of the Dew Drop Inn. These materials from the Hogan Archive of New Orleans Music and New Orleans Jazz, a unit of TUSC, will be exhibited at the Dew Drop Inn alongside items on display from other archival repositories, community sources, and family collections.

TUSC’s collaboration with the Dew Drop Inn also allows opportunities for co-programming educational activities for the public that foster awareness of the ways archives can illuminate stories that were previously hidden or untold. “Working with the Dew Drop Inn team is a realization of our goal to bring archives to the widest audience possible through community engagement. We are excited to work together to honor the histories behind this iconic venue,” said Jillian Cuellar, director of TUSC.

The famed Dew Drop Inn complex included one of the foremost Black-owned entertainment venues of New Orleans from 1939-1970. In addition to the music club, the Dew Drop Inn boasted an accompanying hotel, restaurant, and barber shop. It catered to Black customers and entertainers during the period of segregation in the U.S., and would become renowned for early performances of legendary rhythm and blues and rock ‘n’ roll musicians such as James Brown, Ray Charles and Little Richard, as well as iconic New Orleans artists like Fats Domino, Irma Thomas, and Allen Toussaint. The recent $6 million restoration, led by developer Curtis Doucette Jr., reimagines the Dew Drop Inn as a 17-room boutique hotel, a historic music venue, an immersive museum, and a vibrant pool club.

“We believe the Dew Drop Inn will not only be a space for entertainment, but a hub of learning and creativity,” said Curtis Doucette Jr., owner and developer of the Dew Drop Inn. “This collaboration with TUSC is key in making that vision a reality. Our unique multimedia exhibits using these archives ensure that the stories of the legendary musicians who graced our stage are not only remembered, but also serve as an inspiration for future generations.”

TUSC’s Ralston Crawford collection of New Orleans jazz photographs and The Legend of the Dew Drop Inn documentary interviews by Julia Dorn are among several digitized collections accessible to the public via the Tulane University Digital Library at digitallibrary.tulane.edu. For more information, contact Melissa A. Weber, Hogan Archive curator, at mweber3@tulane.edu or 504-247-1807. To learn more about Tulane University Special Collections, visit the TUSC website at library.tulane.edu/tusc or email specialcollections@tulane.edu. To learn more about the new Dew Drop Inn Hotel & Lounge, visit dewdropinnnola.com or contact Lauren Usher at lauren@dewdropinnnola.com or 773-405-5795.

Published February 22, 2024

Photo caption: Exterior of the Dew Drop Inn, 2836 LaSalle Street in New Orleans, 1953; photographer: Ralston Crawford, Ralston Crawford collection of New Orleans jazz photographs, Hogan Archive of New Orleans Music and New Orleans Jazz, Tulane University Special Collections.


Dew Drop Inn, 1953, from Ralston Crawford collection of New Orleans jazz photographs, Tulane University Special Collections