Manuscript Resources on The History of Music, Drama, and Other Performing Arts

This guide describes manuscript resources in the Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections that document performing arts history. Most of the collections relate to music, with smaller numbers dealing with theater, and a few dealing with dance. Geographically, most of the collections center around Louisiana, with many reflecting the rich cultural history of New Orleans and its diverse French and American cultural streams. Baton Rouge and other cities and towns are documented to a lesser degree. The cultural life of rural Louisiana is reflected in plantation collections containing sheet music, playbills, and other evidence of cultural activity.

The collections include papers of music and drama teachers, composers and writers, and performers. They also contain papers of those who sat in the audiences of musical and other performances and commented on them in letters and diaries, or compiled collections of programs and other ephemera dealing with the performances they witnessed. Finally, they contain papers of researchers who wrote about music and theater history.

Though extensive, the resources listed in this guide form a small part of the totality of materials documenting performing arts history in LSU's Special Collections. An exhaustive search of available inventories of manuscript collections would turn up additional important documentation. The Rare Book Collections contain a wide variety of relevant imprints, and include an extensive database of uncataloged sheet music. Similarly, the Louisiana Collection contains additional imprints on the performing arts, specifically related to Louisiana and the Lower Mississippi Valley. A folder containing several music history finding aids in addition to this one is available at the Special Collections reference desk.

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Turnbull-Allain Family Papers, 1784-1941 (bulk 1820-1890). 15 linear ft. Location: C:98-112, OS:T, 99:T. The Turnbull and Allain families were cotton and sugar planters of West Feliciana, West Baton Rouge, and Iberville parishes, Louisiana. Papers include correspondence, legal and financial documents, and plantation records. Included are a large number of Braille writings of Helene Allain, some written while she studied and taught at the Louisiana Institute for the Blind in Baton Rouge. Plantation papers include lists of slaves and laborers. Available on microfilm 5322: University Publications of America Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations Series I, Part 4, Reels 19-34. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 4261.

Turnbull-Bowman family. Papers, 1771-1956 (bulk 1795-1910). 8 microfilm reels; 5.5 linear ft. Location: MSS.MF:T; X:19-23; OS:T. The Turnbull and Bowman families were cotton and sugar planters of West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana. Financial papers, correspondence, legal documents, personal papers, sheet music, printed items, and photographs of members of the Turnbull and Bowman families, cotton and sugar planters of West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana. Some papers of the related Pirrie and Gray families are included. Early documents reflect involvement of members of the Turnbull family in the fur trade in colonial Louisiana. Most papers reflect planting activities. Papers also include the sermons of William R. Bowman (1800-1835), rector of Grace Episcopal Church in St. Francisville. Some items in Spanish and French. Mss. 4452.

Uhler, John Earle. Papers, 1921-1960 (bulk 1931-1959). 13.4 linear ft. Location: 79:22-32, OS:U, 99:U. John Earle Uhler was an English professor at Louisiana State University from 1928-1961. His teaching and research interests included Shakespeare, 18th century English drama, English Renaissance literature, and linguistics. A public controversy over Uhler's novel Cane Juice, published in 1931, led to his removal from the faculty, and reinstatement six months later.  Papers include personal and professional correspondence; published and unpublished literary and academic manuscripts; and printed material, including newspaper clippings, newspapers, and periodicals related to Uhler's writing and interest in political events. There are also teaching materials from Uhler's tenure at LSU, and a small number of photographs and pencil drawings. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1902.

Referenced in Guides: Politics, Performing arts, LSU, Long Family

Variete Association (New Orleans, La.). Stock certificate, 1870. 1 item. Location: Misc.:V. Stock certificate of La Variete Association of New Orleans issued to J. A. Stevenson and signed by M. O. H. Norton, President, and John Crickard, Secretary. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1189.

Referenced in Guides: Performing arts, New Orleans 1866-

Vignaud, Henry. Papers, 1862-1909. 385 items. Location: C:66. Journalist, diplomat, and historian of New Orleans, Louisiana. Papers consist of letters from Louisiana friends; officials in the Department of State and the diplomatic service; Americans in public life; and literary figures, historians, journalists, and other writers. Collection includes 75 letters (1865-1892) of L. Placide Canonge, New Orleans writer and dramatist, pertaining to literature and the theater in New Orleans. Partly in French. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1281.

W. P. A. Collection COMMUNITY SERVICE DIVISION Field memos, 1940-1942. 1 vol. Location: O:3. Memos sent to directors and supervisors of W.P.A. projects in Louisiana pertaining to personnel, employment regulations, preparation of annual reports, conversion of W.P.A. projects to wartime purposes, and operation and administration of programs. Projects included are the Writers' Project, Shoe Repair Project, Music Project, Arts and Crafts Projects, Nursery School Project, and many others. Memos include worksheets and blank forms for recording hours of work, tasks accomplished, and the number of employees at work on particular projects. Mss. 2902.

W. P. A. Collection FEDERAL MUSIC PROJECT Annual report, 1940. 1 vol. Location: O:3. Report of Louisiana Statewide Music Project contains maps showing location of project units; statistics and other information pertaining to personnel, performances, sponsorship, expansion and training; and copies of commendatory letters. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 2902.

Referenced in Guides: Performing arts

Ward, Joseph. Record book, 1894. 1 vol. Location: J:6. Music instructor of Baton Rouge. Record book containing music and lyrics. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 439.

Referenced in Guides: Performing arts, Baton Rouge

Ware, Eleanor Percy and Catharine Ann Warfield papers, 1835-1876 (bulk 1835-1849). 19 items, 8 volumes. Location: E:51, H:16. Eleanor Percy Lee (nee Ware), poet and novelist of Natchez, Mississippi. Her sister, father, and daughter were also authors. Writings and correspondence of Eleanor Lee include six manuscript volumes of novels, prose, and poems. Collection also includes loose poems, family photographs, and sheet music. Available on microfilm 5750: University Publications of America Southern Women and Their Families in the 19th Century: Papers and Diaries Series E, Reels 31-32. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1416, 1576, 1971.

Webb, Alice. Sheet music, 1904. 1 item. Location: 65:60. Sheet music published by Charles Grinnell, New Orleans, Louisiana. For further information, see online catalog. Mss. 1956.

Referenced in Guides: Performing arts, New Orleans 1866-