Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Campaign Against Litter Creates State Law

It's National Keep America Beautiful Month, which is about the shared responsibility we have in building and maintaining clean, green, and beautiful spaces. Improving our environment includes planting trees, flowers, and gardens and applying a fresh coat of paint on fences, decks, and buildings. It also involves reducing waste by repurposing and reusing old items, recycling, and picking up litter on our streets, highways, and in our communities.

While the initiative for keeping America beautiful began in 1953, Bossier Parish's strong efforts started in 1929 when Lettie Van Landingham came to Bossier Parish to start her long-time career as Bossier Parish Home Demonstration agent. In a Bossier Press article written by Van Landingham, she talks about her fight against litter in this parish.

(L to R) Mrs. Cason, Mrs. Dalrymple, Mrs. Kilgore, and Miss Lettie Van Landingham
Baton Rouge, 1933

“’Thank you’ is not enough to say to the Bossier City Quota Club and all of the other people who have been so wonderful to help carry out our civic programs.

“Therefore I shall give a brief history of my work along this line.

“As a little county girl I attended Minden High School. At that time Mrs. Joe Miller was president of the Minden Civic Club. This club had annual spring clean-up each year.

“This being in the day of one horse delivery wagons, owned by the grocery stores, the merchants furnished the drivers, and all school children assisted in picking up litter surrounding the school and the downtown area and putting it in the wagons.

“Therefore, I was like the little nine-year-old boy whom I picked up one day when he was on his way to the auction barn. He said, ‘I’m going to the auction, you know once you get it in your blood you can’t get it out.’

“The first group I organized was in 1918 in a small town that needed everything. This organization was made up of high school boys and girls. We followed Mrs. Miller’s plan and the town was greatly improved. The remains of wood walks and outdoor toilets were piled and later carried away by the merchants.

“When I came to Bossier in August, 1929, one of the first things the rural women asked was to please help to get the people not to throw their litter on their roads and land.

“Plain Dealing led the way with a good clean-up program. The report was sent to a magazine which awarded them with a plaque. This was placed in the Bell Hotel where the Lions Club held their meetings. Like many other valuable things, it was burned with the hotel.

The home demonstration club women and I worked in many ways to improve the sanitation and beautification of the parish. The members of the Police Jury also assisted and on April 8, 1949, passed ordinance No. 182. A few years later, through our efforts, the state passed a law prohibiting dumping litter on the highway.

“In 1953 Mrs. M.E. Tipton had the idea of getting the heads of the departments together and trying to accomplish more. This was done, the meeting being held at the State Highway building with representatives of the Police Jury, lumber companies, highway department, women’s organizations and others present.

“The name ‘Keep Bossier Beautiful’ was selected for the organization and Harry Balcom was elected president. We worked closely with the state organization, ‘Louisiana Associated Clubs for Roadside Development, Inc.,’ with Mrs. H.H. Harris of Alexandria as chairman.

“This organization, ‘Keep Bossier Beautiful,’ has worked continuously since it was organized and has contributed much to the improvement of highway beautification and sanitation.

“Thier first meeting of the 1967-68 year was held at the Amber Inn October 11 at 12 noon.

“Again thanking all of those individuals and organizations who have assisted in making our parish a more beautiful and better place in which to live.”

Keeping Bossier beautiful has been important to Bossierites since its beginning. Looking at newspapers from the late 1800s, you will see admonishments in there like "Clean up your yards" and "Clean up the front yard; tack on that loose board or picket, slick up and make home and its surroundings as neat and cheery as possible. You will live just as long, have just as good crops and feel a great deal better if you tidy-up a bit. Try it."

What do you want to know about Bossier Parish's history? Visit, call or email the Bossier Parish Library History Center for help with your research. We are at 2206 Beckett Street, Bossier City, 318-746-7717,

By: Amy Robertson

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Bringing the Library to the Community

Librarians of the Bossier Demonstration Library project at the opening of the Benton Branch Library
20 Sep. 1940, Source: The Bossier Banner 26 Sep. 1940

Libraries are a quintessential part of how people learn and engage with their community. The arrival of public libraries gave Americans previously unprecedented access to books and other educational materials. They are open to all and focus on serving the needs of the general public.

At the core of the public library's mission is community access to its collections, which traditionally included books and periodicals. Today, public library collections include so much more. By adapting to and embracing technologies, libraries began including microfilm and taped recordings, and now they provide a large variety of digital collections, databases, and virtual programs.

A critical role in serving the public is through programmings such as educational classes, summer reading for kids, discussion groups, community events, and hosting concerts, art exhibitions, and gaming. Public libraries adapt to their communities' changing needs, not only with changing technologies but also during times of crisis such as wartimes, natural disasters, and pandemics.

Another vital role of the public library is outreach. Outreach allows librarians to put a friendly face on library services and to meet our patrons where they are—used to reach nonusers, infrequent users, and the underserved. Understanding that not every community member can come to the library, outreach involves providing services outside the library walls.

In an article for the American Libraries Magazine, Abby Johnson asserted, "Just as the community belongs in the library, the library belongs in the community." Often, a library's most critical work is the work done outside the library and in the community, where it can reach the underserved, nonusers, and infrequent users.

In the early 19th century, librarians reached rural communities by horseback or horse-drawn carriages to carry books and periodicals to patrons. With the automobile's introduction, motorized bookmobiles began appearing in 1920 but were not widespread until about 1942. Whether powered by a horse or by a motor, the bookmobile was and, in many communities, still is an excellent method of reaching out to community members that cannot reach the library.

Bossier Parish opened its first public library in 1940, starting with only four branches and a bookmobile to reach the parish's more rural communities. By 1952, the bookmobile was making 61 stops every two weeks. The bookmobile served our community's rural members for 28 years until mechanical issues, and the changing needs of its patrons took it out of commission.

The last operating BPL bookmobile c. 1968
Emma Pattillo Collection: 0000.011.010a

In 1977, the Bossier Parish Libraries once again bought a bookmobile, but this time it was used to create a new branch in the Koran community. A Louisiana State Library bookmobile scheduled for the junkyard was acquired by parish librarian Lynda M. Netherland. The state agreed to donate the retired bookmobile if the Bossier Parish Library would cover the transportation cost to relocate it to its new home. The repurposed bookmobile was used as the Koran branch until 1987 when a portable office building replaced it, quadrupling its book capacity.

Source: The Bossier Press-Tribune, Photo By: Tom Bryson

Outreach has always been an essential part of the Bossier Parish Library, which has always adapted to changing technologies and changing community needs. Today, we provide a delivery service we call BPL Delivers, offering services to homebound Bossier Parish residents who have a condition restricting their ability to leave their place of residence without assistance.

We also show up in places you love to be, like the Bossier Night Market, Bloom Festival, and other community events. We bring library materials and activities to local community groups such as after-school programs, nursing homes, schools, treatment facilities, and more. Our vision is to support the changing needs of Bossier Parish by re-evaluating community needs and seeking opportunities to enhance user experience.

For the past eighty-one years, the Bossier Parish Library has proudly provided access to various materials, programs, and technologies that enrich, educate, and inspire the residents of this great parish. To learn more about the Bossier Parish Library's history, visit the BPL History Center at 2206 Beckett Street, Bossier City.

By: Amy Robertson

Thursday, April 1, 2021

This Month In Bossier Parish History

 April: Though The Years

Apr.10, 1988: Bossier Parish Libraries Central Branch had their Open House/Dedication.  Everyone was in the invited to attend the dedication and ribbon cutting. The entertainment was provided by: Shreveport Bossier choral Ensemble, A.T. and Georgia (folk music), Sunshine Generation, Willie the Clown and displays of art work and Native American Artifacts. 

  *Please enjoy the before and after comparison photos of the Bossier City/Central Branch.

Apr.16:  Happy National Librarian Day!

First public librarian in Bossier Parish: 
Elisabeth Williams

Apr.23, 1921: Weekly news from 100 years ago

   *Please enjoy the headlines from the Apr.23, 1921 Bossier Banner and related photos. 

᪇ Shilo School had a successful term with a large portion of pupils being promoted to a higher grade. 

C.1890's: Shilo school, Mrs. R.P. Rodgers (in doorway) was the teacher

😑 Concord School is progressing nicely and is inviting everyone to the school house for a short program. 

1907: concord school, teacher was Mr. Thatcher

💭 A delightful picnic was enjoyed. 

1902: Picnic at Koran Community

😀 J.J. Roberson was an appreciated caller at the Bossier Banner. 

1930-1940's: Morris Roberson & James J. Roberson

Apr.30, 1950:  Bossier Women to observe National Home Demonstration Week. There were over 3 million members of the Home Demonstration Club members through out the United States, Puerto Rico and Hawaii (Became the 50th state in 1959).  Over three hundred of those member were from Bossier Parish. 
   *Please enjoy the photos from the Home Demonstration Club members from our parish.
1954: Home Demonstration Officer: Mrs. B.J. Cannon (Treasurer), 
Mrs. D. Cryer (Secretary), Mrs. J.C. Lee (President), Mrs. M.L. Laing (Vice-President), 
Mrs. H.C. Stinson (Parliamentarian) 

1957: Contestants in the Parish Dress contest
L to R: Mrs. J.C. Lee (2nd Place), ?, Mrs. D.D. Hollis (4th Place)

1958: Mrs. R.E. Briggs, won 1st place on the Sack Dress at the Bossier-Webster Fair. 

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Breaking Barriers

Each year, since 1987, March is designated as Women's History Month by Presidential proclamation to honor women's contributions to history, culture, and society. This year's theme is a continuation of 2020s, recognizing the battle for women's suffrage. For almost 100 years, women fought for the right to vote. But the right to vote is not the only thing women have had to fight for. While women continue to fight for the Equal Rights Amendment, they also continue to break barriers in many areas such as sports, politics, the military, and the workplace.

The women of Bossier Parish are no exception as we have a very long list of women who have and continue to break barriers set before them. There are so many that it is not possible to list them all here now. The following are a few of the Bossier Parish women that have broken barriers making their contributions to history, culture, and society.

Rebecca LaBorde holds the distinction of being the first female firefighter for Bossier City, joining the department in 1984. She was the fifth woman to attempt to join the department but the first to pass all of the tests, including the agility test. She passed the test because she trained hard, running and weight training to meet the requirements. The agility test had applicants set up a ladder, climb up and down it, then dismantle it, carry two different types of hoses, and finish by carrying 100 pounds up two flights of stairs, all within a time limit.

Marshall Esther P. Watkins

Esther Parker Watkins became the first Bossier City Marshall when Judge Louis Lyons appointed her in 1965. Her appointment came after her husband O.L. "Slim" Watkins' sudden death. She served as his deputy during his sixteen years as City Marshall, making her the perfect fit. He was the first Marshall elected when the Bossier City/Ward two court was established in 1950. When election time came in 1966, she was elected by the people running against T. R. Kay and Arthur C. Townsend.

Bossier Parish women have also made their mark in the armed forces. Haughton native Glenda Rhodes-Hood enlisted in the Navy in 1973. There she became a lithographer, and in 1984 she became the Navy's first female chief lithographer. A lithographer is one who prints from a flat stone or metal plate, parts of which are treated to repel ink. They were the Navy's version of a Print Designer, running print shops and producing printed material used by the Navy, such as magazines, newspapers, forms, and training materials. This job no longer exists in the Navy.

Brig. Gen. Fred W. Borum presents
the Air Medal to Lt. Elsie Ott
In 1943 army nurse 2nd Lt. Elsie S. Ott, formerly of Barksdale Field, was the first woman to be awarded the Air Medal, awarded to members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard for meritorious achievement while participating in an aerial flight. Ott nursed five seriously ill officers and men on the first intercontinental air evacuation flight. A 10,000-mile, six-day flight from India to Walter Reed Hospital. During that flight, she had only one corpsman to assist her. She prepared food for the entire crew, sleeping only a few moments between caring for the men and preparing the meals. Ott had never flown in an airplane before and received air evacuation training after her achievement.

In 1979, Airman Patricia K. Langham earned the distinct honor of being the first boom operator with the 913th Air Refueling Squadron at Barksdale Air Force Base. Not only was she the first boom operator at Barksdale, but she was among the first within the Strategic Air Command and the Air Force. It was not long before she was promoted to Senior Airman, and in 1981, she made the honor roll as a distinguished graduate of the non-commissioned officer course.

Here at the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center, we have many ongoing projects, including a list of first Bossier Parish females to ___. To learn more about these firsts, visit the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center, 2206 Beckett Street, Bossier City. Can't come in, call 318-746-7717 or email with your inquiry.

By: Amy Robertson

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Bossier Gets First Smith-Hughes Teacher

Many believe that teaching agriculture in public schools began with the passing of the Smith-Hughes Act in 1917. However, this act's passage was the culmination of work started in 1893 by Alfred C. True, Director of the Office of Experimental Stations. The OES was established in 1888 as a special branch of the Department of Agriculture.

When True became the OES Director, his first report concluded that "the farm boy or girl in the rural high school should be taught...the theory and practices of agriculture." He believed that doing so would result in "more contented and prosperous rural communities." He continued to advocate the need for, development of, or progress in agricultural education in public schools.

In 1901, True hired Dick Crosby as his special assistant to carry out work related to agricultural education. "With the addition of Crosby to the staff and the awakening demands for a more relevant education from progressives, agricultural education in public schools started to become a reality." The OES established a division of agricultural education in 1906 to promote and support agricultural education through consultations, research, curriculum guides, and instructional materials.

At that time, states began establishing agricultural education programs, and by 1916 agriculture was being taught in over 4,000 high schools. The passage of the Smith-Hughes act in 1917 provided federal funds to states to support the teaching of vocational agriculture, home economics, and trade and industrial education. With access to funding, more schools could afford to hire vocational teachers, often referred to at that time as Smith-Hughes teachers. Ten years after the act passed, approximately 90,000 public schools were teaching agriculture.

James Turner Manry in front
of his home garden.
Mary Wheeler Corley Collection:
You may be wondering what this has to do with local history. In 1926, James T. Manry of Plain Dealing took a trip to Georgia to see family and friends. He wrote about his journey for the Bossier Banner-Progress. His story included a visit to a Smith-Hughes school where he saw the community benefits of having an agricultural program in public schools. In the article, he asserts, "By all means Bossier Parish is entitled to at least two of these schools." Manry was sure that he would win his friends in Plain Dealing over to his way of thinking.

One month later, the remainder of his story about his trip to Georgia appeared in the newspaper. He mentions that a friend requested him to contact the State Agricultural Department for further information along that line, which he did. He also said, "The wonder is that every parish does not take advantage of the Government's offer and thus learn the young people to love the farm. The only reason that these schools might not be a success in every instance is in the selection of a teacher. In passing through sections where these schools are maintained one can't but help notice the improved appearance of the crops grown. With the right selection of teachers Bossier Parish can't afford to do without this aid is my humble opinion."

The first Smith-Hughes teacher in Bossier Parish was Shelby M. Jackson. He taught agriculture at Plain Dealing and Benton High Schools while also serving as the Smith-Hughes director of Bossier Parish. He got right to work and made it possible for local students to participate in the Smith-Hughes schools' district agricultural fair that first year. Winners were selected to attend the first national congress of vocational agricultural students for a national livestock judging contest at the American Royal Livestock and Horse Show in Kansas City.

Manry must have been satisfied with the Parish's selection of Jackson because the program was a success. Jackson not only instructed the school children, but he also taught the community through weekly articles that appeared in the Bossier Banner-Progress. In 1930, Jackson earned the distinction as the master vocational instructor for the State of Louisiana. He later became the State Supervisor of Vocational Agriculture and then State Superintendent of Education after that.

According to the Future Farmers of America website, "The advancement in agricultural education since the Smith-Hughes Act has bettered the quality of life not just for America's rural and farm families but for everyone across the globe who is fed and clothed by the American Farmer."

By: Amy Robertson