Collection Spotlight: Carnival

It’s Mardi Gras season, meaning it’s the perfect time to highlight some of Special Collections & Archives’ Mardi Gras collections.

1899 Proteus Invitation

1899 Proteus Invitation

1899 Proteus Invitation, side 2

1899 Proteus Invitation, side 2

The New Orleans Carnival Collection is an artificial collection informally collected over time. New Orleans has been celebrating Mardi Gras since the mid 19th century. Private organizations, known as krewes, sponsor annual public parades and private balls. This collection consists of the ball programs and some invitations to these events produced by various krewes from the 1870s through to the 1970s.

1880 Comus admittance card

1880 Comus admittance card

While the collection contains materials related to Mardi Gras Super Krewes like Rex and Comus, it also contains ball miscellany from several historically black krewes.

1977 Original Illinois Club ball program

1977 Original Illinois Club ball program

1969 Young Men Illinois Club ball program

1969 Young Men Illinois Club ball program

The Original Illinois Club, formed by Pullman porters in 1894 in response to the whites-only krewes of New Orleans, was the first black carnival organization. The Young Men Illinois Club split from the Original and formed in 1927. The Illinois Clubs, along with the Beau Brummell Club, Plantation Revelers, and the Bunch Club, were created to sponsor traditional, invitation-only balls for presenting young black debutantes. Subsequent black krewes included the Capetowners (1935), the Plantation Revelers (1939),  the Dunbar Club (1946), and the Bon Temps (1947).

1970 Plantation Revelers ball program

1970 Plantation Revelers ball program

1970 Dunbar Club ball program

1970 Dunbar Club ball program

1970, 1977 Capetowners Carnival Club ball programs

1970, 1977 Capetowners Carnival Club ball programs

1970, 1977 Capetowners Carnival Club ball programs

1970, 1977 Capetowners Carnival Club ball programs

1970 Bon Temps ball program

1970 Bon Temps ball program

You can see more images from this collection in this previous blog post. For more information about the history of black New Orleanians and Mardi Gras, see New Orleans on parade : tourism and the transformation of the crescent cityThe Mardi Gras Indians : the ethnomusicology of black associations in New Orleans, The “Baby Dolls” : breaking the race and gender barriers of the New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition, Lords of misrule : Mardi Gras and the politics of race in New Orleans, and Arthur Hardy’s Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

This collection and the books listed above are available for research use in the Booth-Bricker Special Collections & Archives Reading Room on the 3rd floor of the library Monday – Friday, 9am-4:30pm.

Tags: , , ,

2 Responses to “Collection Spotlight: Carnival”

  1. Kelly Parker Says:

    Hi:

    I am working on a book project, sharing just some of the many stories of black Carnival royalty. I would like to know if you’re aware of any stories-interviews perhaps done on queens of any of these older AA Carnival groups. I love the photos of the programs on the blog. Can you tell me who they specifically belong to and perhaps if they can be shared in my book project.

    Thank you-

    Kelly Dorsey-Parker

  2. admin Says:

    Thank you for your interest, Kelly! Sending you an email in response to your question.

    Elizabeth Kelly

Leave a Reply