Two hundred years ago, Andrew Jackson arrived to fight in the Battle of New Orleans, an essential battle in Louisiana’s history, and now the University is celebrating it.
Hill Memorial Library, Louisiana’s flagship Special Collections library, opened its “À la Militaire” exhibit, which will serve as the bicentennial commemoration of the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812.
The exhibit houses original documents from the War of 1812, chronicling the Battle of New Orleans.
Tara Laver, curator of manuscripts at Hill Memorial Library, curated the exhibit for Special Collections. Laver, who has been at the University with Special Collections since 2000, said the exhibit is Special Collections’ way of remembering the crucial battle.
“The Battle of New Orleans was a test for Louisiana because the state had just been admitted to the union in 1812, and a lot of Americans were still suspicious of people here because they had such a different background from the rest of America,” Laver said.
Laver said when Andrew Jackson came to defend New Orleans against the British invasion he knew was coming, he needed more men.
“He brought into his army a lot of Louisianians, who at the time, the country wasn’t sure about, and then by fighting together and winning, they proved their allegiance,” Laver said.
The exhibit features a biography of Andrew Jackson published in 1817, letters from men describing what they saw in the battle from 1815 and many more original documents from the time period. Much of the display is firsthand accounts and documents created as these historical events were
Laver said she chose each piece for the exhibit with the intention of showing different perspectives of those involved with the Battle of New Orleans.
“I tried to have different representations and different aspects of the battle,” Laver said. “I included documents of the civilian experiences, the soldiers who were in the battle and the people who were left behind in the aftermath of the battle.”
The documents in the exhibit may not seem as important as documents on the scale of the Declaration of Independence, but Laver said they are significant because they can connect with people on an individual level.
Although some items in the collection seem small or insignificant, they contribute to the bigger picture and give people a chance to experience historical events in a different way.
“These things may not necessarily seem important individually, but having the documents that we do have in the exhibit helps create a picture of the everyday person’s experience during the battle and brings things down to a more personal level,” Laver said.
“À la Militaire” is free and open to the public. The exhibit closes May 16.