City Archives
New Orleans Public Library
New Orleans (La.) Department of Public Finance
Correspondence/subject files of the Commissioner of Public Finance, 1913-1950
          3 cu. ft.

From 1912 to 1952, the City of New Orleans operated under a commission form of government, comprised of the Mayor and five Commission Councilmen elected at large. Each of the Commissioners headed one of the five departments of city government.

The Department of Public Finance, one of these five departments, was responsible for assessment of private property, receipts and expenditures of public moneys and accounts of public moneys. The Commissioner served as ex-officio City Treasurer, as Vice-President of the Council, and as Acting Mayor in the event of the Mayor's absence or inability to act.

The general structure of Public Finance remained fairly stable during the period covered by these records, although divisions and departments were added over time. (Researchers interested in records kept by various divisions or departments within the Department of Public Finance should consult the City Archives card catalog under the heading "Finance, general.") Major divisions included the Accounting Division (previously Comptroller) and the Treasury Division, each headed by a Deputy Commissioner of Public Finance; the Auditing Department, headed by the Auditor of Public Accounts; and the Board of Assessors.

The records are 3 boxes of subject/correspondence files reconstructed from fragments dispersed in the City Archives' Official Vertical File and from a small series of files that survived intact. The files are primarily in-coming correspondence to the Commissioner of Public Finance. Also included are a variety of reports (financial or otherwise) generated by the Commissioner or his office. The files are arranged alphabetically by name of individual or corporate correspondent or chronologically within alphabetical miscellaneous folders. Clearly labeled subject files were left intact, and individual pieces marked with clear filing notes were filed under the subject indicated in the note.

Agencies represented by substantial files include the Federal Housing Committee, Mississippi River Bridge [Hero-Hackett Bridge], and the New Orleans Police Department. Among the subjects covered most extensively are the following:

  • Property left to the City by Isaac Delgado--a file exists for the Delgado-Albania Plantation (containing a copy of Isaac Delgado's succession, an inventory of Albania Plantation, financial statements concerning the plantation, and correspondence relating to the city's proposed sale of the property in the late 1910's and 1920's) and another for "Delgado Property" (i.e., property in New Orleans comprising the remainder of the Delgado bequest).
  • Clean-up of Bayou St. John conducted during the 1930s-- see folders marked "Dabezies, H," "Fernadez, Congressman J.O.," "Health Department," "Mayor's Office," "Parker, Walker," and "United States Engineer Office".
  • Disputed taxes--letters from citizens (or their attorneys) regarding errors in tax bills and/or requests for refunds comprise a considerable portion of the correspondence. These letters are filed under the name of the taxpayer (often in alphabetical miscellaneous files).

Other files, while not extensive, contain noteworthy material:

  • The "A" Miscellaneous file includes proofs of engravings for liquor and wine tax stamps (1925). "S" Miscellaneous includes a letter from the Mayor's Reception Committee concerning the 1939 visit of Anastasio Samoza.
  • The file for "Blache, J. Hy." includes correspondence concering Beauregard Square as the proposed site for the Municipal Auditorium.
  • The City Attorney file includes a 1918 letter from a descendant of Bienville asking that her daughter be adopted by the state and the City Attorney's reply.
  • The Distribution of Wealth Program file contains a paper by Commissioner Jesse S. Cave entitled "A Simple Solution of the 'Distribution of Wealth' Problem" (1940).
  • The Louisiana State Museum file includes correspondence concerning the purchase of a painting of Robert E. Lee and his generals and correspondence regarding World War I "relics" donated to the Cabildo by the Republic of France.
  • The file for "Monroe & Leman" contains correspondence regarding Dillard University's controversial purchase of property from Rose Hill, Inc. in 1930.
  • The Political Materials file includes a 1935 list of Regular Democratic Organization ward captains and a resolution from the Old Regulars endorsing the Long/Leche gubernatorial ticket, political pamphlets by Huey and Earl Long, and a list of responses from New Orleans business owners asked to advertise in a 1943 Choctaw Club publication commemorating Mayor Maestri.
  • The Tuberculosis Hospital file contains several letters by early feminist leader Jean M. Gordon.

The following men served as Commissioner of Public Finance during the period covered by these records:

  • A.G. Ricks (1912-1920)
  • Richard M. Murphy (1920-1925)
  • Arthur J. O'Keefe (1925-1926)
  • T. Semmes Walmsley (1926-1930)
  • A. Miles Pratt (1930-1936)
  • Jesse S. Cave (1936-1946)
  • Lionel G. Ott (1947-1952)

Commissioner Ott's papers were received intact and are described separately.


"A" Miscellaneous
American Bank & Trust Company
Amusement Tax Division
Auditor's Office/Office of the Auditor

"B" Miscellaneous
Baptist Hospital
Bayou St. John Improvement Association
Beverage Division
Blache, J. Hy.
Board of Assessors
Board of Liquidation, City Debt
Boggs, Congressman T. Hale
Bowen, R. D.
Broadmoor Civic Improvement Association
Bulletin Data
Bureau of Governmental Research

"C" Miscellaneous
Carrollton Avenue Bridge
Chef Menteur Highway
City Architect
City Attorney
City Council
City Engineer
City of New Orleans Statistics
City Park
City Park Improvement Association
City Planning & Zoning Commission
City Property
City Property Account
City Treasurer
Civil Sheriff, Parish of Orleans
Community Chest
Conveyance Office
Court Cases
Courtesies [Invitations, Meeting notices, Acknowledgments, etc.]
Criminal District Court

"D" Miscellaneous
Dabezies, H.
Daylight Savings Time
Delgado-Albania Plantation
Delgado Property
Delinquent Tax Department
DeMontluzin, R. E. E.
Distribution of Wealth Program
District Attorney

"E" Miscellaneous

"F" Miscellaneous
Federal Housing Committee
Fernandez, Congressman J. O.
Fink Asylum
Fire Insurance
French Opera House [Proposed]

"G" Miscellaneous
Gasoline & Welfare Tax Division
Guaranty Savings & Homestead Association

"H" Miscellaneous
Health Department
Hebert, Congressman F. Edward
Hibernia Bank & Trust Company

"I" Miscellaneous
Isaac Delgado Central Trades School, 1915-1921
Isaac Delgado Central Trades School, 1922
Isaac Delgado Central Trades School, 1923-1924

"J" Miscellaneous
Jones, Governor Sam H.

"K" Miscellaneous
Knight, F. H. [Building permit clerk]

"L" Miscellaneous
Leche, Governor Richard W.
Louisiana Department of Conservation
Louisiana House of Representatives
Louisiana Society for Prevention of Blindness
Louisiana State Museum
Louisiana State Treasurer
Louisiana Tax Commission
Louisiana Taxpayers Association

"M" Miscellaneous
Maloney, Representative Paul H.
Mayor's Office
Mississippi River Bridge [Hero-Hackett Bridge]
Monroe & Leman
Municipal Auditorium
Municipal Boys' Home

"N" Miscellaneous
New Orleans Association of Commerce
"New Orleans: A Folder of Financial Facts"
New Orleans Police Department
New Orleans Public Library
New Orleans Railway & Light Company
New Orleans Spring Fiesta Association
New Orleans Welfare Committee
Noullet, F. A. & Company

"O" Miscellaneous
Orleans Levee District, Board of Commissioners
Orleans Parish School Board
Orleans Parish School Board [Financial Statements]

"P" Miscellaneous
Parkway Commission
Parker, Walker
Playground Service Commission
Police Jury Association of Louisiana
Political Material
Port of New Orleans, Board of Commissioners
Property Appraisals
Property Owners' Association
Public Belt Railroad
Public Markets
Public Property, Department of
Public Safety, Department of
Public Welfare, Department of
Public Works, Department of

"R" Miscellaneous
Real Estate Board of New Orleans

"S" Miscellaneous
Salary Survey & Recommended Pay Plan (1943)
Sales Tax Division
Sales Tax Division, Legal Department
Segregation Cases
Seventh Ward Boosters' Club
Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans
Standard Oil Company of Louisiana
Statements, Press Releases, Speeches
Straight College

"T" Miscellaneous
Touro-Shakespeare Home
Tuberculosis Hospital
Tulane University [Middle America Research Institute]

"U" Miscellaneous
United Community & War Chest
United States Department of Commerce
United States Engineer Office
Upper Pontalba Building Commission

"V" Miscellaneous

"W" Miscellaneous
Wisner [Edward] Donation Advisory Committee

"X,Y,Z" Miscellaneous
Young Men's Business Club of New Orleans
Zoning Board of Appeal & Adjustment

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