Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Angolite: The Prison News Magazine

The Angolite is one of our most unique periodicals at Monroe Library’s Special Collections & Archives. Its uniqueness comes in part from the fact that the publication is inmate produced at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, LA.


The Louisiana State Penitentiary AKA Angola (also known as “The Farm”) is the largest correctional facility in the United States by population and has the highest number of inmates with life sentences. It is a working farm, has a prison rodeo, a museum, and an inmate operated radio station KLSP. This publication covers the history of the Louisiana Prison System as well as internal events and programs, creative writing and poetry, outreach events, and initiatives to help the formerly incarcerated and families of those who are incarcerated.


This award winning magazine is published bimonthly and can be viewed in the Booth-Bricker Special Collections & Archives Reading Room on the 3rd floor of the Monroe Library, Monday – Friday, 9:00-4:30.

If you are interested in learning more about Angola, there is a fascinating documentary called The Farm: Angola USA available for check out from Monroe Library.

Collection Spotlight: The Basil Thompson Papers

Basil Thompson (1892 – 1924) was born and raised in New Orleans and was a prominent literary figure in the city post World War I until his untimely death at the age of 31 from pneumonia. He was a published poet as well as an editor and founder of the small but influential New Orleans literary magazine, The Double Dealer.


(Picture of Basil Thompson in 1908 2nd from left in the front row. Thompson graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Loyola in 1910.)

Our Basil Thompson Papers collection housed in our Special Collections & Archives at Monroe Library offers insight into Basil’s literary career, his early childhood, and his family’s history. Through correspondence, personal diaries, scrapbooks, and ephemera, details of Thompson’s life emerge. The contents of this collection not only come from Basil Thompson’s hand but also from other family members such as his father New Orleans insurance man, T. P. Thompson, his sister Ida Marie Thompson Zorn, and Susan Blanchard Elder, the mother of T.P. Thompson’s first wife and a writer and lyricist of some note.

Postcards, letters, publications, diaries, journals, scrapbooks, and photographs flesh out this collection offering fascinating insight into the life and work of a well-known member of the New Orleans literary community and a family’s history.

Here are some images of one of Basil Thompson’s childhood scrapbooks (an analog version of a modern day Facebook or Tumblr page). These are filled with pictures of exotic locations, cards, ticket stubs, poetry, antidotes, and members of his favorite baseball team.





(Images of one of Basil Thompson’s childhood scrapbooks from The Basil Thompson Papers, Box 4, Folder 4)

For further research on Thompson we also have some original issues of his The Double Dealer magazine as well as a 4-volume complete reprint available in our holdings in the Special Collections & Archives. This distinctive publication sought to establish literary legitimacy for the South (as directly motivated by H.L. Mencken’s scathing essay from 1917 on the culture of the South, “The Sahara of the Bozart”) while rooted in the unique character specific to the city of New Orleans.

Published in New Orleans on Baronne Street from 1921 to 1926, The Double Dealer was exceptional during its time not only due to its publication of women writers and African American writers, but also for its printing of modernism and experimental writers framed within a purposefully classical context. This balance bolstered The Double Dealer‘s intentions (as characterized by its subtitle) of being “A National Magazine From The South”.


The Double Dealer was a significant part of the Southern Renaissance that occurred between the wars with a roster of contributors that include William Faulkner, Ezra Pound, Thornton Wilder, Sherwood Anderson, Djuna Barnes, Ernest Hemmingway, Robert Penn Warren, among many notable others. Its contributions to the literary culture of New Orleans can be traced to the creation of other magazines such as The Southern Review and The Outsider.

The Basil Thompson Papers and The Double Dealer are available for viewing in the Booth-Bricker Special Collections & Archives Reading Room on the 3rd floor of the Monroe Library, Monday – Friday, 9:00-4:30.


A new exhibition showcasing our recent acquisition of the 21st Editions fine-press photographic book Southern Landscape by photographer Sally Mann opened earlier this week in the Special Collections and Archives.

Mann’s landscapes provide the viewer with a cross-section of the South’s complicated and stratified history. In seductive silver-toned black and white Mann captures the memory held in a landscape’s past and brings it into dialog with the present. From the primordial fecundity of the Louisiana bayou to the last remaining columns of an otherwise long-gone plantation home, she exposes the layers of a location’s history providing us a mirror for its present.


The exhibit of this fine-press art book and accompanying loose prints are available for viewing in the Booth-Bricker Special Collections & Archives Reading Room on the 3rd floor of the Monroe Library Monday – Friday, 9:00-4:30.

A Brief History of Smoking at Loyola

When Loyola University recently became TOBACCO-FREE at the start of August we decided to look through back issues of The Maroon and see how the history of smoking on campus has played out over the years.

In the 1920’s through the 1970’s tobacco advertising was regularly found in The Maroon….

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In the 1936 article a Loyola “cigarette fiend” explained the potential economic savings of quitting smoking (based on an average of 10 packs per week!), with the motivation for quitting being all the extra cash he’d have to fund “45 or 50 more” dates each year!


In 1964 after the infamous federal report (Smoking and Health) was released indicating that smoking was indeed linked to lung cancer, Loyola students weigh-in as to whether they planned to continue to smoke, cutback, or quit. This finding was a surprise to many at the time and recently used as a major plot point in the Mad Men television series.


In 1975 The Maroon published an article on classroom smoking. Could you imaging smoking in class? Well, in 1975 you weren’t suppose to smoke in class but people were doing it anyway. There were also several letters to the editor during this time period complaining about the practice.


By 1981 efforts supporting stopping smoking start to make news with a report about the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout. The Smokeout was chaired that year by the popular television actor Larry Hagman who played the ruthless oil baron J.R. Ewing on the then popular T.V. show Dallas.

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In 1994 indoor smoking on campus starts being limited.  In the article “The butt stops here for student smokers” we learn from an interview with the director of the Dana Center that the Orleans Room will remain a smoking area, but the St. Charles Room will become smoke free.

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In 2008 outdoor smoking starts to become limited to certain areas on campus, though enforcement proves difficult as outlined in the article “Smoking on campus still not enforced”.


Whether you agree with the campus smoking policy or not, it took over 50 years after smoking was first reported to be hazardous to your health for Loyola to become a smoke-free campus … which provides us with an excellent example of how sometimes it takes a long time for the cycle of change to occur.

Here’s a lagniappe, the 1984 Great Smokeout commercial with Larry Hagman/J.R. Ewing:

Collection Spotlight: DIG: An Excavation at Marcham

Dig, is a small art book by Calire Bolton representing the findings from an 2001 excavation at the site of a Roman amphitheater in Marcham, Oxfordshire in England. As the volume unfolds you are greeted with the various kinds of objects found during the dig along with the plot number where they were located.

Dig: An Excavation at Marcham
Claire Bolton
Abingdon, Oxford: The Alembic Press, 2002
(Edition 35 of 40)


Some of the objects excavated included: nails, teeth, plaster, floor tiles, 20th century washers, glass, oyster shells, mortar, and bones.

Feel free to come experience other volumes in our Fine-press & Artists Books Collection in the Booth-Bricker Special Collections & Archives Reading Room M-F, 9 am – 4:30 pm.

Medieval Silk

Housed up here in Special Collections & Archives are more than just books. With everything from photos to films to memorabilia to newspapers, there’s just as an expansive array of materials as there are subjects.

One such material can be found in Collection 62, a single box containing a moment in history shrouded in a dead language: three silk banners written in Medieval Latin produced in the 18th century to advertise various debates on matters of law.

1743 Banner Even to someone whose studied the language, it can be difficult to comprehend what “matters of law” could even be. The religious overtones are hard to miss, but the “conclusio” are a bit tricky. Academically, Classical Latin is what is taught to students wanting to pick up, say, The Aeneid, and read the original text. However, Medieval Latin is a very different matter. As stated by the name, it is the Latin taught and used during the medieval era for religious purposes, mostly for scripture transcribed by Catholic priests. Because it was not a commonly spoken language, nor anyone’s first language, the grammar of Medieval Latin, as opposed to Classical, tends to suffer.  That makes translators today a bit skeptical of any possible translations. 1727 banner

One possible translation for the text written in the bold at the top, as a sort of forward to following “conclusio”, is this (just to give you a sense of what’s going on):

“Beautiful as the moon
Noble as the sun
Mirror of sanctity
Miracle of virtues
Daughter of the Father,
Mother of divine words
Bride of the Holy Spirit
And finally virgin
Conceived without any of the original sin from the fall.
Conception of the Sacred Virgin Mary.
Singular, amazing, and without original sin”

Following this is the “epigrama”, a tale of a virgin conception of a child without original sin.

And then following this are the “conclusio”.  One can only assume that what this is referring to are the conclusions one can draw from said tale and what legal grounds they hold as such. In retrospect, such arguments used during a debate of law during the medieval era was common; there was no separation of church and state.

The first conclusion, “prima conclusio”, translates roughly to:

“Just as with life, apprehensive ownerships are acquired of properties, therefore opposed favor, and objection made shall oblige to the Defendant”

The next five conclusions follow the same pattern and tone.

This just being the first of three banners, all are similar in subject and language. For someone studying law debates of the medival era, these could certainly prove useful and an interesting read.

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To check out these banners, all of the materials are available for viewing in Monroe Library’s Special Collections & Archives Monday-Thursday, 9:00-4:30.

Found in the Archives is a recurring series of crazy cool stuff found in the Monroe Library’s Special Collections & Archives.

This post was compiled by student worker Mary Graci.

Two Words: Oriental Stucco

Today we look at one of our more unique titles from the stacks Oriental Stucco.

This book was published in 1924 by the United States Gypsum Company for use by architects as well as to market a new kind of stucco called… wait for it… Oriental Stucco!

This stucco was made with a “list of ingredients” including concrete and most likely gypsum (given the name of the company) and other materials “perfected by modern scientific knowledge” that we are not privy too, but one thing that stands out as told in the Forward is the inclusion of plastic.


So what is so interesting about a book advertising different types of stucco?

The sample cards…

Not only does the manufacturer give you the history and quality of the various stuccos documented in the book, they also give you textured and colored examples of what the product could achieve aesthetically. Pretty handy when trying to decide the kind of wall treatment you want for a structure and still informative today as an example of trade advertising from the 1920’s.

Now to peruse a few of the stucco types presented in the book…

We have Greek stucco…

California Mission…

The California Mission stucco sample has the roughest texture which seeks to evoke a style that resulted from the tools being wielded by “unskilled” hands and the use of  “course and rough” materials.

Here is a close-up… Look at all that texture!

The most vivid color sample is the Early Italian… (though all of the stuccos where “made in white, and nine colors”)

If you would like to come browse this relic of product advertising from the roaring 20′s feel free to visit the Special Collections & Archives in Monroe Library Monday-Thursday, 9:00-4:30 or Friday, 9:00-12:00.

In the meantime here is a link to a more concise version that was published in 1925 that has been digitized over at the INTERNET ARCHIVE and included in their Building Technology Heritage Library.

Before there was Street-View

Being a fan of travelling to new destinations but not being able to do so as often as I would like, I love being able to look at pictures of the places I wish to go.  Seeing places in a photograph allows you to imagine yourself seeing it in person for the first time, but with modern technology you can be right in front of that famous monument with just a click of a button thanks to developments such as Google’s Street-View option in their maps.

Although, in 1893 before the time of the internet, and back when travelling across the world was not as easily accessible, people relied on picture books such as Thomas Knox’s “Scenes from Every Land” to see the famous places they wished to travel. And those people who could not see these sites with their own eyes were exactly who this book was directed towards, as General Lee Wallace addresses in the introduction, “ To the few who have traveled; to the many who would like to go abroad, , but are restrained by timidity; to the lacking in funds; to the sick and convalescent who promise themselves sight of the world when health will permit; more especially, to the multitude of unfortunates, who, on account of incurable ailments of whatever kinds, can never hope to escape the narrow confines in which their lots are cast, I venture to address this introduction.”
Scenes From Every Land

This particular book holds over 500 pictures from around the world, from Syria to New Zealand and famous buildings to museum galleries, this book shows it all. But one thing that is interesting to wonder when flipping through the pages of this book is how many of these famous sites have changed since the late 1800s, and thanks to Google Street-View we are able to see just how different, if at all, things are. Just click the links below each picture to see how they are today.

Westminster Abbey, London

Westminster Abbey, London

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower, Paris

The Vatican, Rome

The Vatican, Rome

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The Colosseum, Rome

Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Campanile, or Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy

Court of Lions in the Alhambra, Granada, Spain

Court of Lions in the Alhambra , Granada, Spain

St. Basil

St. Basil, the Beatified, Moscow

Great Pyramid and Sphinx, Egypt

Great Pyramid and Sphinx, Egypt

Cleopatra's Needle, Alexandria, Egypt

Cleopatra’s Needle, New York

(The obelisk was originally in Alexandria, Egypt when this photo was taken but was later moved to Central Park in New York City in 1881)

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Washington Monument, Washington D.C.

“Mellows – A chronicle of unknown singers”

“It would appear superfluous to enter into any discussion on the origin, character or musical significance of the Negro spiritual, since the fact is so well established that it is an original lyrical creation of the Afro-American mind evolved in this country… but a few words may seem necessary in explanation of the name “mellows.”

Dialect is not the speech to which the Negro will cling; but for elemental poetry, poignancy and expressiveness it far excels purer speech, and in this his songs have that direct emotional utterance that belongs to all time, making the musical art productions of estimable value. These songs are known throughout the South as spirituals, “himes” and “ballets”: but the “mellows” and “make-up” songs of the Louisiana Negro claim a distinctive place. Mellow is the Negro word for melody, and by this term their devotional songs are called in southern Louisiana. So redolent of this quality are they that we are reminded of the words of Renan, speaking of Celtic melodies: ‘Like emanations from above they fall, drop by drop, upon the soul and pass through it like the memories of another world.””

- R. Emmet Kennedy, “Mellows” © 1925

As a casual fan of the Negro spiritual, having heard many of them wonderfully performed in voice master classes here at Loyola by friends of mine, I was excited to read and hum through the “mellows” Kennedy had transcribed directly from ancestors of the slaves that created them. His book presents some “mellows” as just text, some as transcribed melodies and some with full piano harmonizations (something someone could bring to a pianist if they wished to sing one of these slave songs). In each of the songs, the rhythmic and tonal manifestation of the plight of the slave is apparent. The melodies often include dissonances, expressing the pain and agony of their experience, while the rhythmic refrains (sometimes called “burdens”, isn’t that sad?) are repeated to the extent of yielding an intoxicating, incantatory effect on the listener and the singer- no doubt, a coping mechanism for the inhumane conditions we know them to have lived in.

The “mellows” of the Negro slaves can still be recognized as influences in music that came after that time. Dvorak’s New World Symphony (the symphony he wrote about coming to America) incorporates many mellows into its themes. Their influence is even literary, as Edgar Alan Poe admittedly used rhythms from slave songs in much of his poetry. Even the “blues scale” that we hear in much of today’s blues, jazz, rock and even pop music is arguably a manifestation and elaboration of those dissonances that were existent first in Negro spiritual. As horrific a time in our recent history it was, it is a time that is important to remember. We should be thankful to people like R. Emmet Kennedy, who have helped preserved the culture of an entire people and, therefore, contributed to the progression of our own.

“R. Emmet Kennedy’s life changed at the tender age of seven – the Sunday morning he first heard African-American spirituals sung ensemble at the New Hope Baptist Church on 7th Street. Emmet’s childhood friends and playmates were Sammy and Johnny Sparks, sons of Aunt Julie Sparks (Julie’s mother was Milleete Narcisse, formerly a slave on one of the plantations up-river from Gretna) who was one of the lead singers in the New Hope Baptist Church. The church was, and still is, on 7th Street, adjacent to the back yard of the Kennedy home.* ”

- Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), Saturday, November 22, 1941, Page:

*R. Emmet Kennedy (permanent) Exhibit at the Jefferson Parish Library, Gretna Branch located at 102 Willow Drive, Gretna, Louisiana – exhibit by Mr. J. B. Borel.

This post was compiled by student worker Dylan J. Tran.

Book model: Rachel Masters.

Found in the Archives is a recurring series of crazy cool stuff found in the Monroe Library’s Special Collections & Archives.

Beachcombing in the Archive

Even though the official start of summer isn’t till Sunday, the creeping thermometer mercury is already making getting to the beach a priority for many. Being able to cool down in some water and relax is enjoyable… Yet, experiencing the details of the seashore can often bring delight.

The scurrying of hermit crabs, witnessing dolphin acrobatics out from shore, building sand castles, or beachcombing for seashells, driftwood and sea glass enchant the beach goer turned weekend naturalist.

In this spirit and appreciation for the flora and fauna of the seashore, today I offer you some illustrations of shell fossils.

These are from the Report on the Agriculture and Geology of Mississippi By, B.LC. Wailes. Wailes was the Geologist of Mississippi when this was published in 1854.

These lithographs document the shell fossil deposits found a good 160 miles from the Gulf Shore.


Many of these fossils where found in strata revealed during the construction of railroads or the quarrying of stone for building in the area.


With sharks teeth being found in the strata of a quarry eight miles south of Jackson and large sea mollusks in a creek bed emptying into the Pearl River.

You can also beat the heat by visiting our Special Collections & Archives Booth-Bricker Reading Room to view this book and comb through other interesting volumes on the Gulf Coast region Monday – Thursday, 9:00 – 4:30 and Friday, 9:00 – 12:00.

Here is musical lagniappe from the Beach Boys. Enjoy!