Friday, November 20, 2009

Photographs from the 1870s

This week we've been cataloging a large collection of carte-de-viste and cabinet card images. These photographs are mostly from the 1870s and were shot at local Shreveport studios like the Star Gallery and Olsen's Photograph Gallery on Texas Street. Unfortunately, we don't know the identities of many people in the photos, such as the brothers seen above (2002.035.393). They are likely relatives or friends of the Arnold, Tidwell, and Brownlee families of Bossier Parish.

The photos are valuable research tools even without names, since they allow us to see excellent examples of clothing and hairstyles from the later half of the 1800s. This carte-de-viste photograph (2002.035.364) was sent by 20-year-old Alcie Smisson to her brother Bernie in 1870. Her dress is relatively simple with an apron-like overskirt and a neckline embellishment of ribbon. Alcie wears her hair in a popular style of waves pulled back from her face in a center part.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Two new exhibits!

The History Center has a new exhibit on display - "The Great Depression Era in Bossier Parish: A Collection of Images, Words, and Possessions from the Past." The exhibit focuses on Senator Huey P. Long's connections to Northwestern Louisiana, the early days of Barksdale Field, the 1933 Plain Dealing bank robbery, and the importance of family and community. You'll also see the lighter side of the 1930s in photos that capture moments of fun, like the Lions Club donkey baseball game played in Plain Dealing. Excerpts from oral histories are sprinkled throughout the display to highlight the experience of living through the Depression.

This exhibit was created in support of "Triumph Over Tragedy: The Great Depression/New Deal Era in North Louisiana,” the inaugural collaboration of the EYE-20 CREATIVE CORRIDOR, a unified effort to provide a long-term Regional Cultural Economy Initiative among Interstate-20 communities ensuring access to the highest quality programs and services offered by artists and arts organizations in North Louisiana.

The first group effort commemorates the 80th Anniversary of the Great Depression/New Deal Era in North Louisiana from October 2009 to the Spring of 2010. For a list of events in Triumph Over Tragedy go to

Another new exhibit is ready for viewing at the Plain Dealing Branch Library. "Bossier Parish Food 1910s - 1960s" can be seen as you enter the library, immediately to your right. This exhibit emphasizes how central food is to culture and celebrates our shared memories of food and family.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Homemade and Homeraised in Bossier Parish

World War II food rationing booklet from the Mary Wheeler Corley Collection, 2003.026.047B
Come see our exhibit on food in Bossier Parish, 1910's - 1960's at the Plain Dealing branch library

Bread - Mrs. Lillie Rose Roberson Matlock of the Plain Dealing area went through about three 50 lb. sacks of flour a week, making biscuits and bread for her large family. It seems all local food memories involve biscuits – biscuits and syrup for breakfast, biscuits and a slice of meat for lunch and giant “cat head” biscuits made an impression, too. Corn bread was also common. “Light bread” (typically store-bought bread such as Wonder Bread) was not. It was a treat, saved in Martha Southerland Humphrey’s household for company only. Coffee, sugar and flour were the universal staples you bought at the store, but maybe you could trade some eggs for some light bread, like the James F. Strayhan family did.