Mayor Arthur J. O'Keefe

City Archives
New Orleans Public Library

Date range: 1926-1929
Size of collection: 6 cartons
Terms of Access: Available to registered researchers by appointment

Historical Note

Arthur Joseph O'Keefe (1876-1943), a native of New Orleans, served as the city's mayor from 1926-1930. Before entering politics, O'Keefe operated a coffee and tea importing business and served as a director of other local firms. He was a member of the Choctaw Club, the city's Democratic machine, and in 1925 was elected Commissioner of Finance in Martin Behrman's last administration. When Behrman died early in 1926, the Commission Council elected O'Keefe acting mayor. He later won the special election to fill Behrman's unexpired term.

His term witnessed construction of the Watson-Williams bridge [also know as the Maestri bridge or the Highway 11 bridge] over Lake Ponchartrain and the beginning of the Municipal Auditorium construction project. O'Keefe opposed efforts, supported by Huey P. Long, to build free bridges at the Rigolets and Chef Menteur pass and to pipe cheap natural gas into the Crescent City. On July 15, 1929, O'Keefe took a leave of absence from his office (T. Semmes Walmsley became acting Mayor) and formally resigned the position on February 14, 1930.


The records include files that survived intact as well as "fragments" that were filed elsewhere in the City Archives. Most of the records are in the form of incoming letters to the mayor; their arrangement in alphabetical by name of correspondent (corporate or individual). Where only one or two items exist for a given correspondent, those items are filed in alphabetical miscellaneous folders. Intact subject files were kept together and some attempt was also made to reconstruct other subject files using filing notes written on the documents [the attempt, unfortunately, was not consistent].

Scope Note

Much of the material is "ceremonial" (i.e., letters of introduction/greetings, letters of appointment, etc.) but there are documents of more significance, especially in the files for city of New Orleans government agencies. The New Orleans Police Department files include scattered reports on investigations of houses of prostitution, fortune-telling, and other "nuisances" of the day. The Orleans Levee District, Board of Commissioners files include details of the Board's purchase of land for the Bohemia Spillway. In addition to records relating to agencies of the city, parish, state, and national governments, there are also materials dealing with local individuals, institutions, and businesses. Several black organizations are among those represented in the records (for example, the file on the Peoples' Methodist Episcopal Church contains a flier, with photographs, describing the activities of the Peoples' Community Center).

Detailed Description of the Records

Box 1

"A" miscellaneous
Air Mail Service
American National Red Cross
Archdiocesan Union of Holy Name Societies
Armstrong, Adam [Mayor of Winnepeg Beach, Canada]
Assessors, Board of
Auditorium (Municipal)
Audubon Park Commission

"B" miscellaneous
Bayou St. John Residents' Conference
Bender, W.S.
Biloxi, Mississippi
Bloomenstiel, Alex [Mayor of Donaldsonville, Louisiana]
Bond Issue
Public Belt Railroad
Brewster, Ralph O. [Governor of Maine]
Bridges (Chef Menteur and Rigolets)
Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks

"C" miscellaneous
Camp Street Independent Association
Canal Bank & Trust Co.
Carrollton Business Men's Association
Charity Hospital
Chatters, Aaron
Chicago Flood Control Commission
City Archives
City Attorney
City Council
City Electrician
City Hospital for Mental Diseases
City Park
City Planning and Zoning Commission
Civil Service Commission, City of New Orleans
Community Chest
Congratulations, 1926
Coolidge, President Calvin [copy of letter from Mayor only]

Box 2

"D" miscellaneous
Dever, William E. [Mayor of Chicago, Illinois]
District Attorney's Office, Parish of Orleans
Dominican Republic, Consul General
Dryades Street Improvement Association

"E" miscellaneous
Edgewood Cooperative Improvement Association

"F" miscellaneous
Factories Inspector
Fourteenth Ward Civic League
Fourth and Fifth Wards Civic Improvement Association
France, Consul General
Fuqua, Governor Henry L.

"G" miscellaneous
Garden District Protective Association
Geary, Harry [Mayor of Lake Charles, Louisiana]
Gentilly Garden and Terrace Improvement Association
Girl Scouts
Great Britain, Consul General
Greater New Orleans Poultry Association

"H" miscellaneous
Hammill, John [Governor of Iowa]
Hart, W.O.
Hartvig, William [Mayor of Hallock, Minnesota]
Hibernia Bank & Trust Co.
Hoan, Daniel W. [Mayor of Milwaukee, Wisconsin]
Hodgson, Larry [Mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota]
Holcombe, Oscar [Mayor of Houston, Texas]
House of Detention
Hunter, Fred H. [Mayor of Des Moines, Iowa]

"I" miscellaneous
Illinois Central Railroad
Interdenominational Ministers' Alliance
Isaac Delgado Central Trades School
Italy, Consul General

"J" miscellaneous
Jefferson Highway Association
Juvenile Court, Parish of Orleans

"K" miscellaneous
Kennedy, John [Mayor of Biloxi, Mississippi]
Knights of Columbus

"L" miscellaneous
Lafaye, E.E.
Lakeview Civic Improvement Association
LaSalle, Edward [Mayor of New Iberia, Louisiana]
Laundry and Dry Cleaning Services, Inc.
Leach, George E. [Mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota]
Legal Matters
Louisiana Attorney General

Box 3

Louisiana Commission for the Blind
Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Immigration
Louisiana Department of Conservation
Louisiana Department of State
Louisiana Development Association
Louisiana Highway Commission
Louisiana Historical Society
Louisiana Library Commission
Louisiana Municipal Association
Louisiana Public Service Commission
Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
Louisiana State Board of Health
Louisiana State Fair
Louisiana State University
Louisiana Weekly
Loyola University

"M" miscellaneous
McElroy, H.F. [City Manager of Kansas City, Missouri]
Males, Herbert [Mayor of Evansville, Indiana]
Marine Bank & Trust Co.
Martin Behrman Memorial Playground Commission
Masonic Orders
Mexico, Consul General
Miller, Victor S. [Mayor of St. Louis, Missouri]
Mississippi River Bridge
Mississippi River Commission
Mississippi River Flood Control Association
Moose, Order of
Morgan's Louisiana and Texas Railroad and Steamship Co.

"N" miscellaneous
National Congress of Mothers and Parent-Teacher Associations
National Farm School Conference
National Rivers and Harbors Congress
New Orleans Association of Commerce
1926 (January-June)
1926 (July-December)
1928, no date
New Orleans Baseball and Amusement Co.
New Orleans Board of Health
New Orleans Board of Trade
New Orleans Civic Opera Association

Box 4

New Orleans Colored Hospital Association
New Orleans Convention and Publicity Bureau
New Orleans Fire Department
New Orleans Permanent International Trade Exhibition
New Orleans Police Department, 1926
New Orleans Public Belt Railroad
New Orleans Public Library
New Orleans Public Service, Inc.
New Orleans States
New York City [various officials]
Nichols, Malcolm E. [Mayor of Boston, Massachusetts]
Night Recorder's Court
No Name Luncheon Club

"O" miscellaneous
Oak Street Improvement League
O'Connor, Congressman James J.
Orleans Levee District, Board of Commissioners, 1926

Box 5

Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff
Overton, Watkins [Mayor of Memphis, Tennessee]

"P" miscellaneous
Palm-to-Pines Tour
Parker, Walter
Parking Commission of New Orleans
People's Methodist Episcopal Church
Playground Community Service Commission
Police Band
Pontalba Building
Port of New Orleans, Board of Commissioners
Porter, H.J.
Prichard, W.W. [Mayor of Thief River Falls, Minnesota]
Prisons and Asylums, Board of Commissioners
Public Finance, Department of
Public Property, Department of, 1926
January-March [also includes December, 1925]
Public Safety, Department of
Public Schools

Box 6

Public Utilities, Department of

"R" miscellaneous
Ransdell, Sen. Joseph S.
Reed, James A. [Senator from Missouri]
Retail Grocers Association of New Orleans
Registrar of Voters, Orleans Parish
Rollke, William [Mayor of Bethany, Missouri]
Rolph, James [Mayor of San Francisco, California]

"S" miscellaneous
Saenger Theatres, Inc.
St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce
Schwab, Frank X. [Mayor of Buffalo, New York]
Schwarz, Leon [Mayor of Mobile, Alabama]
Second Recorder's Court
Sewerage and Water Board
Shwartz, S.J.
Simpson, Lieutenant Governor O.H.
Sixteenth Ward Civic League
Smith, Alfred E. [Governor of New York (copies of telegrams from
Mayor O'Keefe only)]
South Louisiana Fair Association
Southern Association, Amateur Athletic Union
Southern Pine Association
Southern Railway System
Spearing, Congressman J. Zach
State Tax Collector
State-Times (Baton Rouge)
Sullivan, W.H. [Mayor of Bogalusa, Louisiana]

"T" miscellaneous
Thomas, L.E. [Mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana]
Traffic Club of New Orleans
Tulane University

"U" miscellaneous
Union Indemnity Co.
United Fruit Co.
United States Customs Service
United States Department of Agriculture
United States Department of Commerce
United States Department of Labor
United States Marine Corps
United States Navy
United States Post Office
United States Shipping Board
United States Treasury Department
United States Veterans Bureau
University of Missouri

"V" miscellaneous
Veterans of Foreign Wars
Vieux Carre Association

"W" miscellaneous
Walker, James J. [Mayor of New York City--copies of communications from
Mayor O'Keefe only]
Wall, Perry [Mayor of Tampa, Florida]
Warrington House, Inc.
Webb, Ralph [Mayor of Winnepeg, Canada]
Webster Street Commission
Western Union Telegraph Co.
Whitfield, B. [Mayor of Picayune, Mississippi]
Woodrow Wilson's Birthday Commemoration Committee

"XYZ" miscellaneous
Young Men's Business Club
Young Men's Gymnastic Club

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coded: 1/15/1999
coded by: Irene Wainwright

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