TEMPESTS: Storms in the Archives

Tempests: Storms in the Archives

In commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the curators offer this exhibition to show how these notorious tempests are situated within two centuries of storms, coastal erosion, and levee failures. It is our goal to demonstrate not only the longitudinal nature of hurricanes, gales, and coastal changes, but also the number and diversity of primary sources housed at LSU Libraries Special Collections and available for research.

Louisiana hurricanes have left their mark in correspondence, photographs, fictional accounts, federal legislation, and oral histories housed in Special Collections. Archival materials such as these make it possible to take a long view of these storms, revealing recurring themes that can inform social, political, and environmental policy making. TEMPESTS, the gallery exhibit, features historical materials from statehood in 1812 to the mid-2000s, in a variety of formats and languages, including personal correspondence, political papers, literature, and audio excerpts from oral history interviews.

The Listening Station component draws from over 40 oral history interviews contained within 20 different collections housed in the T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History and available through Special Collections. These stories provide first-person experiential accounts about storms in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries that have forever changed Louisiana's coastline, its people, and our shared narrative about disaster and resilience. Peoples' memories extend from times before named storms to recent history, and include the hurricanes of 1893, 1915, 1926, 1927, 1947 and Hurricanes Audrey, Betsy, Camille, Flossy, Cindy, Hilda, Beulah, Danny, Juan, Andrew, Lili, Ivan, Katrina, Rita, Ike, Gustav, and Isaac. Stories speak to the depth and diversity of how all of Louisiana's coastal residents are impacted by storms and their consequences--rural and urban, young and old, inside and outside of the levee protection systems, rich and poor, and from all ethnicities. Everyone has a unique story to tell, and each proves that Louisianans are not simply static victims of catastrophe, but rather adaptive people tied through many generations to a land that is undergoing rapid change--sometimes in the form of violent, sudden storms. There is a particular focus on residents from around New Orleans and from Terrebonne and Cameron Parishes, where hurricanes have taken their public and private tolls over the past century.

Visitors are encouraged to listen to the excerpts and to turn up the volume--make some noise! We also encourage you to speak with staff about your own experiences during the many storms that have affected Louisiana in the 20th and 21st centuries. Please contact LSU Libraries Special Collections if you are interested in donating original materials, such as letters, photographs, oral histories, or ephemera to help build a more complete, inclusive representation of this era within the libraries' collections. For more information about the exhibition, visit http://exhibitions.blogs.lib.lsu.edu.

All oral history interviews from which excerpts were taken are housed with the Williams Center for Oral History and are part of the LSU Libraries Special Collections, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For specific citation information regarding each interview, please contact Center staff at http://www.lib.lsu.edu/oralhistory/. All photographs are either housed with the Center or are cited within the captions.

Williams Center collections in which interviews about historic and recent hurricanes can be found include:

Louisiana Sea Grant Coastal Change
Sea Grant by Carl Brasseaux and Don Davis
Sea Grant Grand Isle Diaries by Earl Robicheaux
1927 Flood
Bayou Lafourche by Michael Pasquier and class
Heart of the City, Eye of the Storm by Caroline Gerdes
Hurricane Betsy Survivor Stories by Nilima Mwendo
Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum
United Houma Nation by Daniel D'Oney
Pointe Coupee : Voices in the Storm
"I Remember: An Art Show of Environmental Significance,"" CWPPRA
Floodwall by Jana Napoli
University History
Women Pioneers in Louisiana's Environmental Movement by Peggy Frankland
Adrienne Lacour/Four Corners
Ecology, Economy, and Tourism in the Atchafalaya Basin
Atchafalaya Basin by Sue Hebert
Various Topics

For details, see : http://www.lib.lsu.edu/services/oralhistory/search.html