Ralston Crawford was a painter, lithographer and photographer. He was born in Ontario, Canada, in 1906, but grew up in Buffalo, New York, where his father worked as a cargo ship captain. At 20, he left home to work on tramp steamers, traveling to Caribbean and South American ports, but abandoned the sailor’s life after a year to enroll in classes at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. After two terms at Otis, he moved east and resumed his studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Barnes Foundation in Pennsylvania, followed by a yearlong stint in Paris at the Academies Colarossi and Scandinave. By 1934 he was back in the U.S. preparing for his first solo exhibition of paintings at the Maryland Institute of Art. Crawford gained much critical and popular acclaim for his early work, which is most often associated with Precisionism – an American art movement characterized by simplified, geometric forms and themes of industrialization.
Never one to stay in one place for long, Crawford continued to make frequent trips to Europe, and he held posts as visiting professor and artist-in-residence at schools around the country, including the Honolulu School of Art, University of Southern California, Art Academy of Cincinnati and Louisiana State University. Despite his itinerant leanings, one place he returned to again and again was New Orleans.
He first visited the city with camera in tow in 1938 and returned nearly every year for the rest of his life. A longtime jazz enthusiast, Crawford was drawn to the city’s parades and second lines, its bars and clubs, and of course, its musicians, many of whom he considered his closest friends. In 1949, during his tenure as visiting artist at Louisiana State University, he began methodically documenting the musical culture of the city through photography. Where he had previously used the camera as a tool to generate source material for his paintings, his New Orleans photos stand as works unto themselves and mark an important shift in his photography towards a more spontaneous, documentary approach.
According to curator Barbara Haskell of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Crawford had printed nearly 10,000 New Orleans photographs by the end of his life. The Hogan Jazz Archive’s Ralston Crawford Collection of Jazz Photography was acquired in 1961 and includes 741 of what Crawford deemed his best images New Orleans images. Richard B. Allen, former curator of the Archive, who often accompanied him on his photographic excursions, said Crawford “caught joy, grief, rituals, cheating, dancing, selling, boredom, drunkenness, religion, lust, sickness, hard work, friendship and so many other things.”1 In a piece he wrote for The Second Line magazine in 1953, Crawford provided a more understated description of the series: “I have gone and shall continue to go, to bars, night clubs, dances, churches and parades, because the sounds coming from these places are fine. Here is part of my reaction in pictures.”2
Ralston Crawford died in Houston in 1978 and was interred at St. Louis Cemetery No. 3 in New Orleans. According to his wishes, he had a traditional jazz funeral.
1 Anderson, J. Lee, “The Painter as Photographer,” Mississippi Rag, (August 1990): 1-5
2 Crawford, Ralston, “Ralston Crawford’s Photographs,” The Second Line 4 (July-August 1953): 1-12.
On June 28, 1839, the schooner La Amistad set sail from Havana, Cuba, setting off a series of events that would have international and historical consequences. On board the schooner were 53 Africans who had been abducted from West Africa and sold in violation of international law. Their intended fate was enslavement on plantations down coast from Havana. On the third day out, the Africans revolted and ordered that the ship be guided toward the rising sun back to Africa, but each night the Cuban plantation owners who had purchased them from Havana’s slave market and survived the uprising changed course. Zigzagging for two months, the ship eventually was brought by northerly winds and currents to Long Island. Intercepted by the United States Navy, the Africans were jailed and charged with piracy and murder. In New York City, a group of Christian abolitionists, headed by Lewis Tappan, formed a defense committee. Attorney Roger Sherman Baldwin, with help from former President John Quincy Adams, took the case to the United States Supreme Court, which ruled in March 1841 that the Africans were free. This digital collection is comprised of correspondence, dating from 1839-1841, by abolitionists, pro-slavery advocates, governmental officials, and the Amistad Africans themselves, related to the development of efforts to provide legal assistance to the Africans. The resulting trials in the U.S. court system; the political interests on the part of the United States, Cuba, and Spain; and the personal experiences of the imprisoned Africans are detailed in these letters, which are housed in the archives of the American Missionary Association, an abolitionist missionary organization that grew out of the Amistad Committee’s efforts.
"Social Framework: Photographs by Marion Palfi, 1945-1960," is a collection of photographs taken by Marion Palfi, a member of the New York Photo League. This collection captures a diverse spectrum of the American population and daily life from the end of the Second World War to 1960.
Palfi often chose to go where other photographers either did not go, or where they could not gain access. In so doing, Palfi used her camera to study society and document people who were often "forgotten" by mainstream society, but never-the-less constituted part of the American social fabric.
Therefore, aspects of social and economic life from the mid-1940s to the 1960s that were not presented in textbooks or other media during that period, are represented in the photos. For example, the collection features African American servicemen in uniform, as well as photographs of African Americans working in a wartime factory plant.
The economic disparity in the lives of the working class is evident in images of people waiting in line for jobs at an employment office, and in images of dilapidated housing in poor neighborhoods. The daily lives of southern African Americans is captured in photos of farming, church schools, laborers, and country scenes. Evidence of the racial discrimination African Americans endured at the hands of Jim Crow are imprinted on photographs of "Whites Only" segregation signs appearing on storefronts.
In addition to Southern scenes, New York's Harlem neighborhood is also displayed prominently. Photographs of Harlem buildings and residents, as well as of building entrances, including the now defunct Sydenham Hospital, were immortalized by Palfi's lens.
Sounding Translation is an Internet-accessible interview series that features audio interviews in which translators reflect on the experience of translating contemporary poetry. As an ongoing digitized oral history project, it traces the development of relationships of exchange and collaboration among American poet-translators and their international peers working in languages including Arabic French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.
New Orleans and the surrounding region offer a plethora of sounds that are culturally, geographically, and architecturally unique to the region. Among many other things, this collection serves as an auditory historical marker of the changing city, for as the city-scape changes, so do the sounds. This collection originates with the work of a group of sound artists actively creating new sound art in New Orleans. The earliest record of the phrase "sound art" dates from 1983 with William Hellerman's curated exhibition Sound/Art at New York's Sculpture Center. Although sound art became more prevalent in the 1990s, this art form has a number of much earlier antecedents. The earliest conceptualizations of noise as music were by the Italian futurist Luigi Russolo, who developed several noise machines between 1913 and 1921 and authored the "Futurist Manifesto" in which he wrote "...we delight much more in combining in our thoughts the noises of trams, of automobile engines, of carriages, and brawling crowds, than in hearing again the "Eroica" or the "Pastorale"(The Art of Noises, p. 25)."
In 1920, Erik Satie took this concept a step further with two performances of Musique d'ameublement, in which repetitive musical fragments were to be played as a backdrop (as if time repeats itself) while the audience participated in the performance through their movements across the performance space and conversation (thus representing the continuation of time). Perhaps the most commonly known precursor to sound art is musique concrete, developed in 1948 by Pierre Schaeffer. Musique concrete describes a style of composition in which composers re-use portions of existing recordings or make new recordings of sounds from the world around them (e.g. the sound made by a car crossing a specific bridge) and recombine them in a number of variations and alterations to create a new piece of music. Sound art, although still loosely defined, generally combines values and techniques from each of these earlier musical forms. As in musique concrete, existing recordings as well as field recordings of sounds captured in the local environment may be used as primary concepts of the work either in their original form or electronically altered. Similarly, like the work of Satie, sound art also includes some visual component (painting, photographic, film, sculpture, etc.) and the audience's experience of sound, visual, and space is often considered an intrinsic part of the work.
The sounds collected here are the field recordings of local sound artists, students, and faculty at Tulane University. While they were collected for possible integration into sound art and musical compositions, the sounds collected here more broadly represent an auditory history of New Orleans and the surrounding region, and may be linked to the streets, buildings, and neighborhoods of New Orleans and the surrounding region of the early 21st century. As such, these sounds have historical, cultural, architectural, and geographic significance. Although some sounds in this collection may be restricted in their use, many will be available for download and re-use under creative commons licenses.
This collection of oral histories, completed from 1991 to 1994, contains narratives of 119 individuals describing the activities and people involved in the Civil Rights Movement in the southern states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi. The narratives also detail daily life for the African American community during this volatile period in the United States.
These interviews were conducted by writer Tom Dent as research for the documentary and book project Southern Journey: A Return to the Civil Rights Movement. Inspiration for the project stemmed from Dent’s earlier experiences conducting a Mississippi Oral History Project (1978-1983) and researching the autobiography of his friend Andrew Young. He was influenced by the book Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon to travel throughout the American South and collect the stories of the Civil Rights Movement in a variety of cities and towns, including Greensboro (North Carolina), Orangeburg and Charleston (South Carolina), St. Augustine (Florida), Albany (Georgia), Selma (Alabama) and various towns in Mississippi. The interviews are arranged in alphabetical order within these town and state groups. Interviews of note include, John Marshall Kilimanjaro (Greensboro, North Carolina), Annie Devine (Canton, Mississippi), L.C. Dorsey (Mound Bayou, Mississippi), and Andrew Young (Atlanta, Georgia). His goal was to capture the voices and perspectives of the individuals who have rarely been heard from in the history of the movement.
The Tulane Library Speaker Series encompasses speaker events hosted by Howard-Tilton Memorial Library and its divisions such as the Latin American Library, the Music and Media Center, and Special Collections among others. Providing students, faculty, and visiting researchers an opportunity to share their work with their peers, these Library-sponsored events seek to foster an environment of reflexive learning while supporting the robust research environment of Tulane University.
Tulane University was established in 1834 as a small private medical college. In 1847, it became a public multifaceted state institution, the University of Louisiana. In 1884, it once again became a private institution through the donation of Paul Tulane, a wealthy merchant intent upon giving back to the city which had given him so much. This collection represents the variety of materials held within the University Archives, its official repository. Divided into sub-collections for easier searching, each section that will be populated – Artifacts and Memorabilia, Audiovisuals, Course Catalogs, Historical Documents and Records, Photographs and Photo Albums, Publications, and Student Registers, Graduates, and Alumni Lists – offers a glimpse into the history of Tulane University. Please click on an icon below to access a particular sub-collection.
The Tulane University Band Historical Collection contains digitized recordings of the Tulane University Band as well as images of the original record jackets. Created between 1956 and 1981, these recordings feature several of the original compositions and arrangements of John Morrissey and Ted Demuth, both of whom conducted the University Band during this period. The original recordings are part of the Music and Media Center’s rare collections.
This collection of Tulane University football programs offers a review of Tulane football history, traditions, coaches and players in a picturesque and informative manner. The programs not only give descriptions of the players and coaches, they also present reviews of past games and seasons, and many of them contain news and photographic sections featuring different aspects of campus and collegiate life. Beyond the athletic material, the programs present detailed snapshots of what was popular in the consumer realm, with graphics and advertisements that vary through time. Finally, the artwork on many of the Tulane football programs has become iconic, with the "Greenie" character popularized by John Chase in the 1950s experiencing a renaissance in the present day
Twenty-eight silk screened posters created in 1940 and 1941 by the Louisiana Federal Arts Project of the WPA. They were produced under the direction of Angela Gregory, Louisiana State Supervisor for the Federal Arts Project, at the group's workshop at 718 Toulouse Street, New Orleans. Artists involved in this project included John McCrady, Roland G. Duvernet, T.A. Byrne, and others. Subjects include rationing, conservation, recruitment, public health, domestic security, national secrets, and the sale of war bonds and stamps.
WTUL is a progressive/alternative FM radio outlet in New Orleans, Louisiana, operating at 91.5 MHz. The station, operated primarily by students of Tulane University since 1962, offers a mix of cutting-edge progressive, electronica, classical, New Age, straight ahead jazz, folk, blues Latin, world reggae, show tunes, kid's show and an eclectic mix of a variety of genres. On air since 1959, this collection contains a wide range of the station's and Tulane University's history as seen through the perspective of students and music. Much of this material, including Vox publications, event flyers, selected playlists, DJ schedules, audio recorded interviews and other WTUL produced audio content, FCC documentation, station promos and more from the station's birth in 1959 to the present.