Krewe of
Proteus Invitation

This invitation to the 1883 ball of the Krewe of Proteus is one of the few that uses French historical imagery in its design. The theme of the ball that year was, simply, "The History of France." During the nineteenth century, costumes for the members of Proteus were manufactured in France. In 1883, however, the ship bringing the raiment to New Orleans was delayed and the krewe had to make do with a "shabby" ensemble of local garments. [Louisiana Division Carnival Collection]

Those were the days, too, of the prosperity of Louisiana, when her wealthy planters and merchants, descendants of the adventurous Frenchmen who colonized the delta of the Mississippi, looked to the motherland for their fashions, their amusements and their literature, and sent scores of their sons to Paris to complete their education. These young Creoles returned home with Parisian ideas and tastes so engrained in them that it was natural they should seek to transplant to New Orleans the theatrical, operat ic, terpsichorean and other amusements of the great metropolis on the Seine.

It was in 1827, sometime before the elder Davis opened the old Orleans Theatre Ball-room, that a number of young Creole gentlemen, some of them just returned from finishing a Parisian education, organized the first grand street procession of masqueraders in New Orleans. One more splendid still, and still larger in numbers, took place on the Mardi Gras of 1837; and another, still more brilliant, in 1839.

[Historical Sketch Book and Guide to New Orleans and Environs (1885), p. 210]