Louisiana and New Orleans History/Non-Fiction

The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans Cover Image
ISBN: 9780674059870
Availability: Special Order. May not be available. Call the store for details.
Published: Harvard University Press - March 2012

This is the story of a city that shouldn't exist. In the seventeenth century, what is now America's most beguiling metropolis was nothing more than a swamp: prone to flooding, infested with snakes, battered by hurricanes.

Prytania Theater owner Rene Brunet, at age 91, has teamed up with urbanologist Jack Stewart and New Orleans book publisher Arthur Hardy to produce a 160-page coffee table book that chronicles more than 100 lost movie theaters in metro New Orleans.

New Orleans is a city of neighborhoods. And once upon a time, each of those neighborhoods included one or more movie theaters. Since 1896 when the nation’s first movie house, VitaScope Hall, opened on Canal Street, nearly 200 neighborhood theaters have come and gone. These entertainment venues were more than places where motion pictures were projected onto giant screens. They were community centers where people gathered and where memories were made. There’s One In Your NeighborhoodThe Lost Movie Theaters of New Orleans presents the history of more than100 neighborhood theaters that will be familiar to Baby Boomer and younger generations


Rene J. Brunet Jr. in a living legend. For more than a century the Brunet family has dedicated their lives to the movie theater industry. Born in New Orleans on August 25, 1921, Rene grew up in the theater business. His father was at the forefront of the motion picture industry in New Orleans and opened his first theater in 1905 on Canal Street. When his father died in 1946, Rene Jr. at age 25, became the owner and operating manager of the Imperial Theater, which his father had built in 1921.

Rene Brunet Jr. will be most remembered for his Canal Street movie palace endeavors, having rescued the closed Joy Theater and Loew’s State Theater. In 1996 at the age of 75, Rene saved the last singlescreen neighborhood movie theater in New Orleans, the Prytania Theater, which was about to face the wrecking ball. He still owns and manages the Prytania and appears there every night, taking tickets at the door.

This book fulfills a life-long dream of Rene’s—to record the rich history of the beloved neighborhood movie theaters of New Orleans.

Jack Stewart is a native of New Orleans who has been intrigued with theaters all his life. He holds an M.S. in Urban Studies, a Ph.D. in Public Administration from the University of New Orleans and wrote his doctoral dissertation on the Orpheum Theater. He is a board member of City Lights, Incorporated, a group that started Saturday afternoon organ concerts at the Saenger Theater when it appeared that the Saenger would be leveled and replaced by an office building. Later, he was a driving force in the same group’s effort to save the Orpheum Theater, which ended in the donation of the building to the New Orleans Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra.

Jack Stewart is the author of Funerals with Music in New Orleans and various articles on the history of New Orleans music. He is a member of the New Orleans Jazz Commission and the chairperson of the New Orleans International Music Colloquium. Jack researched and wrote the text for a series of Historic Jazz Walking Tours and also for 60 musicians’ residences plaques for the Preservation Resource Center / New Orleans Jazz Commission.

Recently rediscovered and never before published, Marc-Antoine Caillot’s buoyant memoir recounts a young man’s voyage from Paris to the port city of Lorient, across the Atlantic to Saint Domingue, and up the Mississippi River to New Orleans. Only twenty-one when he set sail as a clerk for the French Company of the Indies in 1729, Caillot was in many ways the ultimate company man. His descriptions of flora, fauna, and native peoples mirror the sentiments and literary conventions of his class and his era. He would spend his entire adult life in service to the company, rising high in its ranks before dying, at the age of fifty-one, in a shipwreck off the coast of India.

Yet in other ways Caillot was fully his own man, possessed of a voice both witty and prescient. An incorrigible rake—if not an outright rogue—he documents with gusto a string of pranks, parties, and romantic escapades. A persuasive self-promoter, he stakes narrative claim to New World terrain. And he speaks with immediacy across the centuries, illuminating racial and ethnic politics, environmental concerns, and the birth of New Orleans’s distinctive cultural mélange.

Brilliantly introduced and annotated by Erin Greenwald, translated by Teri Chalmers, and enlivened by Caillot’s own exquisite illustrations, A Company Man provides an intimate look at the early history of one of America’s most storied cities, placing New Orleans—and the fledgling colony it anchored—within the nexus of the French-Atlantic empire.

The original manuscript, Relation du voyage de la Louisianne ou Nouvelle France fait par le Sr. Caillot en l’année 1730, is housed in the Williams Research Center of The Historic New Orleans Collection, where it is a capstone of the institution’s rich archival holdings documenting life in French-colonial Louisiana.

“What a remarkable find, this mislaid memoir by a skirt-chasing clerk in John Law’s Company of the Indies. Marc-Antoine Caillot’s mishaps on land and water as he travels from Paris to New Orleans by way of Saint Domingue seesaw between harrowing and hilarious. It’s a fine translation, too, whose annotation and introduction alone are worth the price of the book. A Company Man will delight general readers and specialists for years to come.” —Lawrence N. Powell, author of The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans


About the authors:

A native of Meudon, France, Marc-Antoine Caillot (1707–1758) received his commission as a bookkeeping clerk with the French Company of the Indies in 1728. His 1729 Atlantic crossing was a first for this twenty-one-year-old son of a royal footman. Caillot spent two years in New Orleans and returned to France in 1731. Manuscript notations suggest that he likely began writing his memoir while residing in Louisiana; he seems to have finished his account before accepting a new overseas commission, to Pondicherry (now Puducherry), India, in 1732. He acquired a sizeable personal fortune as he ascended through company ranks, and he married twice and had one child, a daughter named Marie-Madeleine. After traveling the globe for nearly thirty years as a company employee, Caillot died in a shipwreck on February 24, 1758. 

Erin M. Greenwald is curator and historian at The Historic New Orleans Collection. Since joining The Collection in 2007, she has edited numerous exhibition catalogues and a book, In Search of Julien Hudson: Free Artist of Color in Pre−Civil War New Orleans, for which she also wrote the introduction. She is currently working on a book about the history of the French Company of the Indies in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean Worlds, and on an exhibition entitled Pipe Dreams: Louisiana under the French Company of the Indies, 1717−1731. She received her PhD in History from the Ohio State University.

Teri F. Chalmers is a translator of French and Italian and a former professor of the practice in Tulane University’s Department of French and Italian. She has translated articles for Bonsai magazine and essays for Cambridge University Press, and has worked with The Historic New Orleans Collection since 2006. Chalmers earned a BA in Italian and linguistics from Newcomb College, an MA in Italian from UCLA, and a PhD in medieval Romance languages and literatures, with a concentration in French, from Tulane University. She also studied in France at the Université de Strasbourg, and in Italy at the Università degli Studi in Florence.

Bienville's Dilemma: A Historical Geography of New Orleans Cover Image
ISBN: 9781887366854
Availability: Backordered
Published: University of Louisiana - November 4th, 2008

All New Orleans' glories, tragedies, contributions, and complexities can be traced back to the geographical dilemma Bienville confronted in 1718 when selecting the primary location of New Orleans.

Song for My Fathers: A New Orleans Story in Black and White Cover Image
ISBN: 9781590513767
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Other Press - April 20th, 2010

Song for My Fathers is the story of a young white boy driven by a consuming passion to learn the music and ways of a group of aging black jazzmen in the twilight years of the segregation era. Contemporaries of Louis Armstrong, most of them had played in local obscurity until Preservation Hall launched a nationwide revival of interest in traditional jazz.

Madame Lalaurie: Mistress of the Haunted House Cover Image
ISBN: 9780813038063
Availability: Special Order. May not be available. Call the store for details.
Published: University Press of Florida - September 15th, 2015

"Like all of Carolyn Morrow Long's work, Madame Lalaurie is scrupulously researched. It is difficult to envision anyone producing a more thorough account of Delphine Lalaurie, her family, and the home in which she lived. Fortunately for scholars and popular readers alike, the story of the woman and her misdeeds is a captivating one, and the horror of her crimes is shocking even today.

Nine Lives: Mystery, Magic, Death, and Life in New Orleans Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385523202
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Spiegel & Grau - February 16th, 2010

Geographies of New Orleans: Urban Fabrics Before the Storm Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781887366687
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: University of Louisiana - August 2006

"Geographies of New Orleans" integrates hundreds of historical sources with custom-made maps, graphs, photos, and satellite images to explore the intricate urban fabrics of one of the world's most fascinating cities; from its fragile deltaic terrain to its striking built environment, from its diverse ethnic makeup to its devastation by Hurricane Katrina.

Frenchmen, Desire, Good Children: . . . and Other Streets of New Orleans! Cover Image
By John Chase (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781565549319
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pelican Publishing Company - October 31st, 2001

"John Chase has taken what in lesser hands would have been a dull recounting of fact and made a delightfully accurate yet breezy book." -New Orleans Times-Picayune

"History in its most painless form . . . lightened not only by cartoons but by narrative approach."
-New York Herald Tribune

Why New Orleans Matters Cover Image
ISBN: 9780061131509
Availability: Special Order. May not be available. Call the store for details.
Published: Harper Perennial - September 2008

In the aftermath of Katrina and the disaster that followed, promises were made, forgotten, and renewed. Now what will become of New Orleans in the years ahead? What do this proud, battered city and its people mean to America and the world?

The New Orleans of Lafcadio Hearn: Illustrated Sketches from the Daily City Item (Library of Southern Civilization) Cover Image
By Delia Labarre (Editor)
ISBN: 9780807132432
Availability: Special Order. May not be available. Call the store for details.
Published: Louisiana State University Press - May 2007

Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904) was a master satirist who displayed a fiery wit both as a writer and as an artist. For seven months in 1880, he surprised and amused the readers of New Orleans with his wood-block "cartoons" and accompanying articles, which were variously funny, scathing, surreal, political, whimsical, and moral.

Inventing New Orleans: Writings of Lafcadio Hearn Cover Image
By S. Frederick Starr (Editor)
ISBN: 9781578063536
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University Press of Mississippi - June 2001

Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904) prowled the streets of New Orleans from 1877 to 1888 before moving on to a new life and global fame as a chronicler of Japan. Hearn's influence on our perceptions of New Orleans, however, has unjustly remained unknown.

Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana's Cajun Coast (Vintage Departures) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780375725173
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - March 9th, 2004

The Cajun coast of Louisiana is home to a way of life as unique, complex, and beautiful as the terrain itself.  As award-winning travel writer Mike Tidwell journeys through the bayou, he introduces us to the food and the language, the shrimp fisherman, the Houma Indians, and the rich cultural history that makes it unlike any other place in the world.