Today I want to share another great set of free online resources and primary sources. Through its partnerships with 22 libraries, museums, and archives, The Louisiana Digital Library (LDL) provides access to maps, photographs, oral histories, and books that writers can use for inspiration and research. I have highlighted some of my favorite LDL collections below.
The Carnival Collection features bulletins, dance cards, costume and float designs, and other ephemera from historic Carnival seasons in New Orleans. The items found here are vivid, beautiful, often peculiar, and always filled with imagination. If you need inspiration for an old-fashioned circus or Mardi Gras celebration, this is the place to find it. (The morning glory costume design at the top of this post came from the Carnival Collection.)
The Flood Collection features images from the flooding of Monroe and West Monroe, LA in 1932. This set of photos is particularly extraordinary because it can be difficult to visualize how natural disasters affected towns in the past, but the images provide a solid record of the destruction.
Though many people may not find menus fascinating, I certainly do. The Menu and Restaurant Collection contains, menus, bar flyers, brochures, and banquet descriptions all of which could help a writer capture the culture and taste of Louisiana.
Jazz aficionados, don’t despair; the LDL has a collection for you too. The Jazz Collection features photos and audio recordings from the jazz community in New Orleans.
Last but certainly not least is the Mesoamerican Painted Manuscript Collection. Information about Mesoamerican and Aztec history can be difficult to find, making this a unique and valuable resource. Here, patrons can explore Mexican manuscripts, information on Aztec migrations and history, land claims, property holdings, and Mixtec royal genealogy.
These are just a few of the great collections that the LDL has to offer, and I hope that you’ll enjoy exploring them just as much as I have. (And if you happen to make a morning glory costume of your own for that next Carnival season, be sure to send me a photo. I’d love to see it or one of the other ensembles brought to life.)
‘Morning Glory’ by Charles Briton, Mistick Krewe of Comus 1873 costume 37, 1873, Carnival Collection, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library. Louisiana Research Collection. http://cdm16313.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15140coll40/id/5516/rec/24
‘Louis Cottrell’ by Grauman Marks, Louisiana State Museum. http://cdm16313.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/JAZ/id/772/rec/10