Louisiana Division/City Archives   New Orleans Public Library

Images of the Month Gallery
July 2005

In 1911, Rodolphe L. Desdunes published Nos Hommes et Notre Histoire in Montreal, Canada. The volume, written in French, is a tribute to the French-speaking Creoles of color of mid- to late-nineteenth-century New Orleans. In 1973, the volume, long out of print, was translated and edited by Sr. Dorothea Olga McCants and published by Louisiana State University Press as Our People and Our History. Thus, Desdunes' valuable work became available to a new and wider audience.

The rare French edition, however, includes photographs of eight of the more than fifty Creoles of color whose lives and achievements are celebrated by Desdunes. Except for the photograph of Rodolphe Desdunes himself, these images were not included in the translation (although Sr. Dorothea did include a new image of Desdunes in his old age). Since, in many cases, the images included in Nos Hommes et Notre Histoire are the only readily available pictures of these men (and one woman) -- most of whom were instrumental in the effort to strike down the Jim Crow laws instituted in the late 1900's -- we have often received requests for reproductions of them. For our gallery this month, we have scanned the portraits from the original 1911 edition. These digital surrogates will allow us to retire the volume to our "rare" book collection and lessen the need for handling of the fragile first edition.

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