The Crescent City is known for its culture, food and incredible ability to throw a good party. However, the history of the city spans way past any of its cultural elements. The LSU Hill Memorial Library lays the history of the great city of New Orleans out for all to see.
“Made in New Orleans: The Past in Print” is an exhibit made to celebrate the intricate history that created the city many of the University’s students call home. The public is welcome to stop by until the exhibit closes on June 8. The curators are also open to any donations that would be appropriate to add to the exhibit and expands on the history of New Orleans.
Leah Wood Jewett, the exhibit coordinator for special exhibits, curated the "Made in New Orleans" exhibit with Melissa Smith, the Assistant Curator of Manuscripts, and Hans Rasmussen, Coordinator of Special Collections Technical Services.
“This year is the 300th anniversary of the founding of New Orleans and we wanted to participate in that commemoration,” Jewett said. “We wanted to do something a little different than just a straight historical overview so we narrowed our focus to materials in our collection that were printed or published in New Orleans.”
The exhibit consists of documents organized to outline the history of the city, including excerpts from newspapers, documents on law, politics, military, tourism and education, all from different time periods. The oldest piece on display is located at the start of the exhibit, which is a newspaper that was published in the year 1805. Jewett said the collection consists of materials they already had in the library’s collection.
“Everything that you see here was in our collection already,” Jewett said. “They come from family papers, subscriptions and some of them were purchased. It all depends on the items themselves.”
Smith said the Hill Memorial Library is home to one of the more significant newspaper collections in the state. Jewett said she made an unspoken rule saying they had to have an original copy of each newspaper that is on display.
“There is still so much that isn’t on display,” Jewett said. “This also enabled us to pull out materials that are referred to as ephemera. They could be concert tickets or flyers. They’re objects created just for that moment on that date.”
Jewett said the exhibit is a perfect example of ephemera, or things we may not think are important at the time but could possibly hold great importance to someone later on. She said many of the items on display show the true day-to-day life of New Orleans residents and showcases the diversity of the city throughout history.
One section of the exhibit encases items from the 1984 World’s Fair that was held in the city of New Orleans. Jewett and Smith said this particular section hold a special place in their hearts, with each of them having their own fond memories of the historic event.
“I have this distinct memory of picking up certain print and putting it up in my room,” Smith said. “I remember going almost every weekend and even though it lost a ton of money, it was so much fun. It was a great experience for children to be exposed to the world in their own backyard.”
Find the time to stop by the “Made in New Orleans: The Past in Print” exhibit in Hill Memorial Library to see the history of one of the state’s most cultural cities. On its 300th anniversary, New Orleans is offered the opportunity to be represented at the University.
“We’re looking beyond our bubble of LSU or even Baton Rouge,” Smith said. “We are actively going out and collecting these items that may have been thrown away. There will come a day where something that one of us brings in might have a tremendous amount of value 100 years down the road and we can all be doing that."