Friday, September 29, 2017

Today is #NationalVFWDay! The VFW was started on this day in 1899 by a group of veterans from the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection to secure rights and benefits for their service. #NoOneDoesMoreForVeterans. This picture is of the 1974, VFW 75th anniversary U.S. postage stamp. Search our Pastperfect database for this and other unique U.S. postage stamps here:

Saturday, August 26, 2017

"Generations of Struggle"

Join us for a reading and discussion series, “Generations of Struggle.” Where we will present three critically acclaimed works, one film and two books, that provide a continuum from the aftermath of slavery to contemporary society, posing questions about our institutions, the changes in race relations, and the enduring challenges to equality for all citizens. The series will be facilitated by V. Elaine Thompson, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History at Louisiana Tech University. Appropriate for high-schoolers and adults.

Works discussed:
Slavery by Another Name, film
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Every Thursday Starting Sept 7th through Sept 28th, from 6:30 P.M. until 7:30 P.M.

To register call the Historical Center at 318-746-7717 
Free Admission -- you must register to save a seat!

"Generations of Struggle" is presented by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities

Sunday, August 13, 2017

#NationalSpiritof45Day is celebrated each year on the second Sunday in August to honor the WWII generation and the legacy of their can-do attitude to educate and inspire future generations of Americans. From our PastPerfect Collections Database we have a copy of a photograph of Mrs. Bonvillion's fifth grade class in 1944. The class is from Bossier Grammar School. They are standing behind a small banner that proclaims "We brought the GREASE to write the PEACE." The students brought waste fats and tin cans that were needed to make munitions for the armed services. The donor (then Mary Frances Morgan) is pictured on the front row.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Huey Long Political Rally in Plain Dealing.  Notice slogans on sides of trucks - "We said free school books for children and they all got them."   Held between S. Cotton Belt St. & railroad track.

In its July 1976 issue The Bossier Press reprinted articles from early issues of The Planters” Press.

The article “How About Free Books?” in the September 8, 1928 issue of The Planters’ Press conveys the mixed opinions of Bossier and Caddo residents about the constitutionality of free text books.

“Will Bossier school children have free textbooks when school opens Monday morning, September 17th, or will they be forced to buy their own books despite a free text book law passed by the state legislature?”

“That is the question that is bothering Bossier parents now that the Bossier [P]arish [S]chool [B]oard has filed suit against the free text book law.  The free school book law has been passed by the legislature and efforts by individuals to have it proven unconstitutional have failed in the court.  The Caddo and Bossier [P]arish [S]chool [Boards] have filed injunction suits to attempt to prove the law unconstitutional.  They are of the opinion that an individual has no right to file procedings [sic] but that the school board has.”

“It is stated that although there is not enough money to supply new books to all school children an allowance of $1.00 is being made by the [S]tate [B]oard of [E]ducation to supply each child with books.  The Caddo Parish School Board officials declared that an average of $3.00 per pupil is necessary for books.  That board in special session Wednesday refused to accept the free books for Caddo school children and in addition filed an injunction suti [sic].”

“The Bossier School Board suit attacking the validity of the validity of the free text book law has been filed in Baton Rouge District Court in the name of Walter Connell, president of the Bossier Parish School Board, and M. V. Kerr, school superintendent for Bossier.  In the meantime it is reported that petitions are being circulated in Bossier Parish by the school patrons asking that the suit be withdrawn.”

“It is stated that the Bossier Parish School Board has already ordered the free text books and that they are ready for distribution.  Schools in Bossier will open Monday morning, September 17th, according to the schedule, and Bossier school patrons are anxious to obtain the free books at that time.”

“It is reported that the majority of the Bossier school patrons are desirous of obtaining the free text books.”

“In the petition filed by the school board, the $750,000 a year appropriation is attacked.  The suit asks that the State Board of Education show cause why it should not be restrained from distributing the free text books.  The petition alleges that under the Constitution public schools’ funds must be distributed to each parish solely for the use of supporting the free public schools.”

“The petition further alleges that the appropriation is unconstitutional as it is for the purposes other than those provided by the Constitution for the general appropriation bill which does not include school book appropriations; that the Constitution prohibits appropriations for private charitable or benevolent purposes, that it also prohibits loaning, pledging or granting funds to any person or persons; and that it limits the state educational system to the free public schools.”

“Virtually the same allegations of constitutional violations are made in the petitions as respects the act setting aside part of the severance tax fund for buying free books.”

“It was learned here Tuesday from John M. Foote, of the State Department of Education, that requisitions for free books for 50 of the 64 parishes have been approved and the books ordered shipped from the state school depository.’

The real objection to the free books was that Bossier and Caddo Parishes did not want to accept “charity” from the state.  Ultimately, until Caddo Parish children were allowed the free books, Huey Long refused to authorize the location of Barksdale Air Force in Shreveport (at that time).

More interesting historical facts about Bossier Parish are available at the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center.

Written by: Ann Middleton, Director

Saturday, July 29, 2017


The September 8, 1938 issue of The Bossier Banner boasted of the readiness of Bossier Parish high schools to open on September 12, 1938.  At the opening Bossier Parish would employ 108 instructors for its six high schools.

“Everything is in readiness for the opening of all six Bossier Parish high schools next Monday morning, September 12th.  Every school is expecting some increase in enrollment.”

“Superintendent of Schools R.V. Kerr said this morning that the pre-school institute for teachers will be held Saturday morning at Benton High School, and that all instructors for the1938-1939 session are expected to attend.”

Books and supplies for each school have been turned over to the respective principals ad will be ready for distribution Monday morning.  Lesson assignments will be made that morning and regular class work should begin next Tuesday.”

“This year he schools will be served by some 40 vans.  Of this number, ten are of the new all-steel type, lately adopted as standard equipment by state school authorities.  It is planned to replace all old wood-type bodies with steel ones as they wear out.  Within the next five or six years all of the old vans will be retired, it is estimated.”

“For the information of readers who missed the story last week, a complete list of the 108 teachers for the parish is listed elsewhere in this issue.”

In the previous issue of The Bossier Banner (September 1, 1938) the editorial column cautioned Bossier citizens not to rush into more bonded debts.  The column pointed out that Bossier had never voted against a school or road improvement tax.  It went on to say that bonds were readily bought for roads, bridges, good public buildings and a very good school system but stretching too far would endanger the secure standing of the parish.  The editorial concluded that “these words are not directed against the recent school bond elections which will enable us to avail ourselves of PWA [Public Works Administration] grants.”  Next week’s issue reported that “Five school projects in Bossier Parish have been awarded PWA grants totaling $355,901.”  The projects included “a high school plant in Bossier City and repairs to two existing buildings, a high school plant in Plain Dealing and repairs to two old buildings, a gymnasium-cafeteria for Benton High School, a gymnasium for Rocky Mount and construction of some 20 to 25 Negro schools, representing a total outlay in excess of $700,000.”  Bonds, of course, would need to be sold for these projects and the paper supported the sale of such bonds.

The history of Bossier Parish education is long and very interesting.  Visit the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center to discover more, as well as to see pictures of early schools here.