Louisiana Historical Association

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The Louisiana Historical Association is an organization of professional historians and interested laypersons dedicated to the preservation, publication, and dissemination of the history of the U.S. state of Louisiana, with particular emphasis at the inception on territorial, statehood, and the American Civil War periods. Since its founding on April 11, 1889, the association now reaches into the history of the late 19th and 20th centuries.

LHA publishes the state historical quarterly journal, Louisiana History, with editing and printing handled through the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.[1] The association also publishes several books related to state history, including The Dictionary of Louisiana Biography; The Ten-Year Supplement to the Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, New Orleans in the Gilded Age, and The Louisiana Purchase and Its Peoples.[2]

Memorial Hall (Confederate Museum), New Orleans

LHA history[edit]

LHA was established in New Orleans, originally envisioned as a depository for Confederate military documents, publications and American Civil War relics. The association headquarters at the Howard[3] Memorial Library at Lee Circle was dedicated on January 8, 1891, in honor of General Andrew Jackson's defeat of the British[4] on January 8, 1815, two weeks after the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, which had ended the War of 1812, effective Christmas eve, 1814.

Many prominent Confederates supported the association, including the widows of General Braxton Bragg and President Jefferson Davis. Although the association stressed the Civil War period, other phases of Louisiana history were not ignored. An official seal was adopted on which important dates in Louisiana history are displayed. Efforts were also made to gather materials from the colonial and ante-bellum past.[4]

Incorporated under state law, the LHA's stated purpose is defined as the collection of "such books, pamphlets, papers, documents, flags, maps, plans, charts, paintings, engravings, lithographs and other pictorial representations, [and] manuscripts" pertaining to the territorial, state, and Confederate history of Louisiana. The state granted LHA the right to compile and publish or to commission books, charts, and other documents and to apply for copyrights and patents.[4]

LHA originally permitted membership only of "white persons of good moral character", including Confederate veterans or non-veterans who had lived in the state for at least five years. Quickly the organization outgrew the limited space of Howard Library. Therefore, the architects Thomas Sully and Albert Toledano, who formed a partnership in 1882, were commissioned to design a Romanesque building to be connected to the library. The new brick one-story building with basement, known as Memorial Hall, was surrounded by a high terrace. Its retaining wall and steps were of Long Meadow brown stone. The interior was finished in polished cypress. Display cases were arranged against the walls in the main hall, which was equipped to serve as both a meeting place and a museum.[4]

Funeral procession for Jefferson Davis, 1889, New Orleans.

On December 6, 1889, Jefferson Davis died in New Orleans and was entombed there in the Army of Northern Virginia's tomb in Metairie Cemetery. In 1893, the second Mrs. Davis decided to have his remains placed permanently in Richmond, Virginia, where his presidency had been based.[4] His copper casket was removed from its vault in the tomb, placed in a brass-trimmed oak coffin, and transported under military escort to LHA's Memorial Hall, where it lay in state until the next evening. A steady stream of mourners passed by the Davis casket, including Governor Murphy J. Foster, Sr. Davis' remains were then loaded aboard the Louisville and Nashville Railroad for the trip to Richmond.[4]


The 1958 reorganization[edit]

In March 1958, Edwin Adams Davis, head of the history department at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge called a meeting of professional historians and other interested persons to organize a new, active, statewide historical society. This meeting was set at the Baptist-affiliated Louisiana College in Pineville in Rapides Parish. LHA contacted Davis and suggested a reinvigoration of the LHA, rather than the formation of a new association. At the Pineville meeting, thirty-five new members were added. On June 6, 1958, a general meeting of the LHA convened at Memorial Hall on the LSU campus, and appropriate amendments to the charter were adopted. By this act, the Louisiana Historical Association was reorganized and a new slate of officers was elected. Edwin Davis, author of a textbook on Louisiana history, became president, with Kenneth Trist Urquhart, as vice-president, and John C. L. Andreassen, a book collaborator with Davis, secretary-treasurer.[4]

Notable LHA presidents[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ There is also North Louisiana History, the journal of the North Louisiana Historical Association, published twice a year in Shreveport.
  2. ^ "The Louisiana Historical Association". lahistory.org. Retrieved July 21, 2010. 
  3. ^ On his death in 1911, Frank T. Howard left $5,000 to the association, an amount the organization invested.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Kenneth Trist Urquhart (March 21, 1959). "Seventy Years of the Louisiana Historical Association". Alexandria, Louisiana: lahistory.org. Retrieved July 21, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Presidents of the Louisiana Historical Association". lahistory.org. Retrieved July 21, 2010. 

Further reading[edit]