Friday, February 15, 2013

Becoming Louisiana traveling exhibition

Becoming Louisiana: Path to Statehood, a traveling exhibition commemorating 200 years of Louisiana statehood, began its statewide tour in April 2012. Presented by the Louisiana Bicentennial Commission, the exhibition will be featured in Louisiana museums and libraries through April 2013. It is currently in the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center from February 15, 2013 through March 31, 2013.

Becoming Louisiana: Path to Statehood is the result of collaboration between exhibition curator, Herman Mhire, graphic designer, Kate Ferry, and historian, Charles Elliott. The exhibition documents the roles Louisiana’s unique geography and cultural history played on its path to becoming the 18th state of the Union, and consists of a series of 10 fabric panels displaying images and text that tell the story of early Louisiana history.

Utilizing Charles Elliott’s historical text as a guide, Mhire researched the collections of the Louisiana State Museum and The Historic New Orleans Collection for relevant historical paintings, engravings, documents and maps. Exhibition themes include: “The Path to Statehood,” “The Geography of Power,” “From Chiefdoms to Colony,” “Empowering a French Creole Colony,” “Evolving French Creole Louisiana,” “New Powers, Old Purposes,” “Expanding a Spanish Colony,” “A Creole Colony Purchased,” and “Challenges on the Path to Statehood.”

The Louisiana Bicentennial Commission was created to mark the 200th anniversary of Louisiana’s attainment of statehood as the 18th state in the Union. The exhibition’s state tour has been made possible by Coca-Cola, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, Entergy, Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism, Bollinger Family Foundation, Haynie Family Foundation, Louisiana Lottery, The McMains Foundation, Zuschlag Family Foundation, AT&T, Goldring Family Foundation, and Union Pacific Railroad.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Artifact of the Month - February

This month's artifact was selected by our intern, Erin White. Erin is currently photographing our costume collection. Here are her thoughts on this item:

When scrabbling about the offsite storage room in the process of cataloging, we here at the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center stumbled across a box marked simply as “Women’s Undergarments.” Upon opening the box, lo and behold, we discovered many items that were indeed part of that category.  Nightgowns, camisoles, brassieres, and, last but not least, corsets filled the box. While most of these objects are still normal parts of women’s daily attire, the corsets were the items that sparked the most awe and, admittedly, some fear.

While corsets are not typical parts of a contemporary woman’s wardrobe, they were necessities for most women, and some men, well up into the early-20th century for creating a more flattering figure. The typical construction of a corset is a soft cloth that is stiffened with inserted boning. In the 19th century, material like elephant, moose, or whale bones were common boning materials. This particular corset comes from the late-19th century. It was produced by P.N. Corsets and made with cork steel boning, which was patented by the company in 1880.  To actually wear this, one would ideally have the help of another. The corset would wrap about the midsection, fastened in the front, and the laces tightened and tied in the back (this is where help might have been necessary). This would create the highly coveted hourglass figure. The lengths one will go for beauty…

Monday, February 4, 2013

Black History Month 2013


Photo of the Month - February

February's photo of the month shows the 1944 graduating class of Benton Training School. Doyle Stromile was among the graduating students. Do you recognize any others?

Bossier Parish Training School in Benton was established in 1928 and produced its first high-school level graduating class in the parish in 1932. Training schools were post-elementary schools with an emphasis on industrial subjects or teacher training. There had been an effort to get one in Bossier Parish since at least the 1880s, with the chartering of the Calvary Baptist Industrial High School Association in 1887. The governing board of the association consisted of eight black men, three of whom could not sign their own names, who sought better educational opportunities for the children in their community. The Calvary Baptist Association later supplied land for the Bossier Parish Training School. The school received Rosenwald funding and grew to train local black teachers by offering two years of college. As the only school of its kind in Bossier Parish, many students boarded in dormitories or with local families.