New Orleans

The Spirit of New Orleans

Culture, Community, Community, Catastrophe, Construction

Peter J. Shields Lobby
Fall Quarter 2011 - Winter Quarter 2012

"That’s what I love about New Orleans; trying to understand it is a lifetime of productive bewilderment." --Jervey Tervalon. My New Orleans. New York : Touchstone, 2006.

The Spirit of New Orleans, the current Shields Library exhibit, was designed to coordinate with the series of performances by the same name at the Mondavi Center in November.

New Orleans is a city unlike any other. It is an American city, but the words it brings to mind aren’t even of English origin: gumbo, jazz, Mardi gras, voodoo … let alone Katrina. The city gets its name from a Frenchman, Philippe d’Orléans, Duke of Orléans. Once a French colony, it also spent some time under Spanish control and was eventually sold to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase. The city also displays African influences. A large number of Haitian refugees came to New Orleans early in the 19th century. Prior to the Civil War, the city had the largest slave market in the country, but also had the largest and most prosperous community of free persons of color in the U.S. Located on the section of the Mississippi River that flows north, New Orleans is also incredibly vulnerable to disaster. Katrina demonstrated in 2005 that a "hurricane" is more than a potent drink served in the French Quarter. Devastated by the catastrophe, the city is struggling to rebuild. The spirit of New Orleans lives on.

The Spirit of New Orleans features items from the Library’s collections representing scholarship on the history, music, architecture, culture, practices and, most importantly, the people of this fascinating city.

"New Orleans is the most unique of American cities because it is the only city in the world that created its own full culture—architecture, music, and festive ceremonies." --Wynton Marsalis. My New Orleans.. New York : Touchstone, 2006.

Exhibit prepared by Michael Colby


New Orleans Spirit Poster