News & Notes

New England music culture in nineteenth-century New Orleans

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Our latest post is a guest post by Warren Kimball, an LSU graduate student, who writes about two exciting finds from our collections…

Frederick Müller letter

Hill Memorial Library houses many materials related to Louisiana history, including sources that document the musical culture of New Orleans during the nineteenth century. Some of these sources have even begun to change the way we think about the type of music making that went on in the city during this time.

Nineteenth-century New Orleans is recognized as having been one of America’s most musically vibrant cities. The Théâtre d’Orléans, opened in 1815, was the country’s leading opera house for over fifty years, and competing opera troupes gave American premieres of many now-standard French and Italian operas. In addition to a bustling opera scene, New Orleans audiences supported a rich concert life, hosting such internationally-known touring musicians as violinist Ole Bull and soprano Jenny Lind. Related to this musical diversity was the population’s division by class, language, and skin color. Musical life was largely defined by these divisions, and the city’s various and diverse cultures developed distinct, thriving musical traditions.

0895002bMost historical attention to date has been given to the music of the city’s French-speaking residents, and especially to this group’s cultivation of opera. Less attention has been given to the New England immigrants who settled in the city following the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Drawn by economic, social, and religious opportunities, these northern-born, English-speaking, Protestant inhabitants made up only a fourth of New Orleans’ white population by mid-century, but they came to exercise economic hegemony over the city’s French-speaking residents. They helped shape antebellum culture in New Orleans by establishing institutions similar to those they left behind in New England, such as the city’s first Protestant churches, English-language newspapers, and public schools. Similarly, these residents established a thriving musical culture modeled upon those of northern cities, particularly Boston.

Among New Orleans’ most important English-speaking, Protestant musicians in the 1840s was Frederick Müller, a conductor and organist who moved to the city from Boston. In 1842 Müller wrote a letter to an acquaintance in Cambridgeport, Massachusetts, describing the musical life of New Orleans and his own professional activities. This letter, housed in the Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collection at Hill Memorial Library, provides invaluable insight into nineteenth-century music culture in New Orleans.

20130731_124141bMüller described working as the director of music in an Episcopalian church and directing a concert society “similar to [Boston’s] Handel and Haydn Society,” which we know was called the New Orleans Sacred Music Society. Concert societies such as this, which were dedicated to the performance of works by well-known European composers, were very popular in New Orleans during this time, as evidenced by the diary of Luther Field Tower, a cotton clerk from New England who was living in New Orleans. Tower’s diary, which is also housed in Hill Memorial Library, mentions that he attended many concerts and public rehearsals, including those of the New Orleans Sacred Music Society.

In his letter, Müller also described teaching music in public schools and establishing a singing school. Since we are able to tell that the letter was written in 1842 from a reference in its postscript to two theater fires, we know that Müller served as a music teacher in two public schools during the first year of their existence in New Orleans, as the music director of the city’s oldest Protestant church, and as the conductor of an ambitious professional orchestra and choir. Müller’s letter therefore establishes him as a leading musician in the city during the 1840s and 1850s, aligns his musical activities with those of prominent Boston musicians, and demonstrates how these immigrants sought to preserve their New England musical culture in their adopted city of New Orleans.

Warren Kimball is a PhD student in musicology at LSU.  His research deals with music making in nineteenth-century New Orleans and the music of Charles Ives. The two manuscripts discussed here formed the basis of a research paper that he presented at a recent conference in Florida.

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Recent faculty publications

2020 

Blessinger, Kelly and Dave Comeaux. “User Experience with a New Public Interface for an Integrated Library System,” Information Technology in Libraries. Volume 39, Issue 1. https://doi.org/10.6017/ital.v39i1.11607

Lounsberry, Megan. “Troubleshooting electronic resources from an ILL perspective,” Technical Services Quarterly, Volume 37, Issue 3.
https://doi.org/10.1080/07317131.2020.1768699

McDonald, Ebony. “2020 Regina Medal Recipient Christopher Paul Curtis,” Catholic Library World. 

Miles, John David.  “James Harrison and the Tensas Troubles of 1878,” Civil War Book Review: Volume 22, Issue 1 (Winter 2020).

2019

Batte, Elizabeth; David Dunaway; Emily Frank; Sarah Mazur; and Laurie Phillips. “LOUIS Membership with Open Textbook Network Brings Incentive for Faculty OER Advocacy on Campuses,” CODEX: Journal of the Louisiana Chapter of the ACRL. Volume 5, Issue 3 (Fall/Winter 2019).

Comeaux, Dave;  Emily Frank; and Mike Waugh. “Supporting Student Success: E-books as Course Materials,” CODEX: Journal of the Louisiana Chapter of the ACRL. Volume 5, Issue 2 (Fall/Winter 2019).

Dunaway, David. “Bibliometrics for Faculty Evaluation: A Stastical Comparison of h-indexes Generated Using Google Scholar and Web of Science Data,” CODEX: Journal of the Louisiana Chapter of the ACRL. Volume 5, Issue 3 (Fall/Winter 2019).

Haber, Natalie, Melissa Cornwell, & Andrea Hebert. “This worksheet works: Making the DLS Standards work for you,” College & Research Libraries News. 

Hawk, Amanda K. “Implementing Standardized Statistical Measures and Metrics for Public Services in Archival Repositories and Special Collections Libraries,” Proceedings of the 2018 Library Assessment Conference, (Association of Research Libraries, 2019): 836-843. https://doi.org/10.29242/lac.2018.78

Hebert, Andrea and Jodi Duet. “’I’m Really Confident I Can Find the Exact IKEA Pillow’: A Qualitative Look at the Search Self-Efficacy of Graduating MLIS Students,” Behavioral & Social Sciences Librarian. https://doi.org/10.1080/01639269.2017.1690891.

Lounsberry, Megan. “No Textbooks Allowed! (Unless You’re a Graduate Student!): Louisiana State University Pilots an ILL Textbook Service. Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserve, 28 (3/4): 61–73. https://doi.org/10.1080/1072303X.2019.1676862

Miles, John David. “Colfax, Kate Grant, and the Domestication of Reconstruction’s Violence,” Civil War Book Review. Volume 21, Issue 2 (Spring 2019).

Miles, John David. “The Loyalty of West Point’s Graduates Debated,” Civil War Book Review. Volume 21, Issue 1 (Winter 2019).

Miller, Marty. “Curriculum, Departmental, and Faculty Mapping in the Visual Arts Department,” Art Documentation, Volume 38, Issue 1 (March 2019): 159-173.

Morgan, Randa L. “Libraries and Gardens: Growing Together.” Catholic Library World, Volume 90, Issue 1 (September 2019): 68.

O’Neill, Brittany; and  Allen LeBlanc. “Evaluating Trends in Instruction Scheduling Management: A Survey of Louisiana’s Academic Libraries,” CODEX: Journal of the Louisiana Chapter of the ACRL. Volume 5, Issue 2 (Fall/Winter 2019).

Russo, Michael, “The Moon Belongs to Everyone:  ResearchGate and Subscription Databases Compared.”  Louisiana Libraries. Volume 81, Issue 3, (Winter 2019).

Russo, Michael, “Information Literacy through Service Learning” in Library Collaborations and Community Partnerships: Enhancing Health and Quality of Life.  Fannie M. Cox, Henry R. Cunningham, and Vickie Hines-Martin, eds., 2019.

Simms, Sarah; Hayley Johnson. “Hidden in Plain Sight,” 64 Parishes (Magazine of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities). Issue 4 (Summer 2019). https://64parishes.org/hidden-in-plain-sight.

Simms, S., & Johnson, H. Subtle activism: Using the library exhibit as a social justice tool, Alexandria, Volume 29, Issue 1-2 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1177/0955749019876119.

Ziegler, Scott; and Cara Key. “More Than a Pretty Interface: The Louisiana Digital Library as a Data Hub,” CODEX: Journal of the Louisiana Chapter of the ACRL. Volume 5, Issue 2 (Fall/Winter 2019).

Ziegler, S.L. “Digitization Selection Criteria as Anti-Racist Action,” Code4Lib Journal. Issue 45 (2019). https://journal.code4lib.org/articles/14667

Ziegler, S.L. and Steve Martin. “A Hidden Gem Becomes a Fertile Mining Ground: Historic Prison Admission Books and Data-Driven Digital Projects,” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography Volume 143, Issue 3 (October 2019): 363-373.

2018

Hebert, Andrea. “Information Literacy Skills of First-Year Library and Information Science Graduate Students: An Exploratory Study,” Evidence Based Library and Information Practice Volume 13, Issue 3 (September 2018).

Miller, Marty. “Sacred vs. Profane in The Great War: A Neutral’s Indictment: Louis Raemaekers’s Use of Religious Imagery in Adoration of the Magi and Our Lady of Antwerp.” Catholic Library World, vol. 89, no. 1, Sept. 2018, pp. 20–32.

Rasmussen, Hans. “The Life and Death of Raquette in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans,” Sport History Review 49 (May 2018): 23-38.

Wilder, Stanley. “Delayed Retirements and the Youth Movement among ARL Library Professionals,” Research Library Issues, no. 295 (2018).

Wilder, Stanley. “Hiring and Staffing Trends in ARL Libraries,” Research Library Issues, no. 295 (2018).

Wilder, Stanley. “Selected Demographic Trends in the ARL Professional Population,” Research Library Issues, no. 295 (2018).

Ziegler, Scott; and Richard Shrake. “PAL: Toward a Recommendation System for Manuscripts,” Information Technology and Libraries, Vol. 37, No. 3 (2018).

2017

Caminita, C.; Cook, M.; and Paster, A. (2017). Thirty years of preserving, discovering, and accessing U.S. agricultural information: Past progress and current challenges. Library Trends, 65(3), 293-315.

Dauterive, Sarah; John Bourgeois; and Sarah Simms. “How little is too little? An examination of information literacy instruction duration for freshmen.” Journal of Information Literacy, 11.1 (2017): 204-219.

Fontenot, Mitch; Emily Frank; and Andrea Hebert. “Going Where the Users Are: Three Variations on a Theme,” Louisiana Libraries, Fall 2017.

Hawk, Amanda K. “Highflying Crowdfunding: Creating a Successful Partnership with a Campus Donor,” Archival Outlook, July/August 2017: 12-13, 19. https://www.bluetoad.com/publication/?i=422988.

Hebert, Andrea; and Marty Miller. (2017). Using FSA-OWI photographs to teach information and visual literacy. Louisiana Libraries, 79(3), 19–25.

Johnson, Hayley. “#NoDAPL: Social Media, Empowerment, and Civic Participation at Standing Rock,” Library Trends, Fall 2017.

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