Manuscripts Collection
Louisiana Division
New Orleans Public Library


Tallant, Robert, 1909-1957
Papers, 1938-1957
3.5 cu. ft.; 10 vols.

Author. Born in New Orleans, April 20, 1909. Educated in local public schools. Worked as an advertising copywriter, bank teller, and clerk before "drifting" into writing. His friendship with Lyle Saxon led to a position as editor on the Louisiana Writers' Project of the WPA. In this position he completed the writing of Gumbo Ya-Ya, the Project's compilation of Louisiana folklore. By 1948 his career was fully launched and over the next eleven years he produced eight novels and six full-length works of nonfiction, including three for Random House.

Tallant also wrote and had published numerous short stories and articles on subjects of local interest. His 1951 The Pirate Lafitte and the Battle of New Orleans won the Louisiana Library Association award for the best book of that year. In 1952 his revision of the Writers' Project New Orleans City Guide was published by Houghton Mifflin. During the last years of his life, Tallant lectured in English at Newcomb College and worked as a reporter for the New Orleans Item. Robert Tallant died in New Orleans on April 1, 1957.

The papers consist of letters, photographs, typescripts (with manuscript corrections) of his novels, short stories, articles, and non-fiction works, scrapbooks of reviews and other material related to his works, radio scripts, plot outlines, research materials, sketches, prints, and clippings. Some carbons and galley and page proofs are also included, as are portions of the manuscript of Gumbo Ya-Ya, which Tallant co-authored with Lyle Saxon and Edward Dreyer.

The research material consists mostly of typed copies of articles relating to voodoo, spiritualist churches, and murder cases. Also included are transcripts of interviews (conducted by other Writers' Project staff members) with African Americans of various professions (including prostitutes, cooks, and cane cutters) and a selection of songs, some described as "bawdy."

The small correspondence series includes letters to and from Tallant's publishers, along with congratulatory communications from friends, colleagues, and fans. Of special interest are: a letter from the Board of Commissioners of City Park crediting Tallant with authorship of their New Orleans City Park, the First Fifty Years and his correspondence with and application to the Julius Rosenwald Fund for a fellowship in creative writing. Additional correspondence relating to specific works is included in the scrapbooks for those works. Correspondents include John Hall Jacobs, Edwin A. Davis, Governor Robert Kennon, Harry Stephen Keeler, Lucius Beebe, Bennet Cerf, Essae Mae Culver, Dorothy Quick, Thyra Samter Winslow, Gwen Bristow, and Hobert Skidmore.

Among the photographs are views of private gardens in New Orleans, Mardi Gras and other city scenes, portraits of Tallant and of his friends (including Saxon), and reproductions of voodoo paintings. Additional photographs may be found in the scrapbooks. The papers also include several original sketches, some signed by Tallant and others, and some unsigned. There is also a small group of prints depicting miscellaneous scenes and subject matter.

Gift of Mrs. Lucy Magruder Tallant, April, 1957. [Note: a collection of books inscribed to Tallant by other authors was also donated at this time. These volumes are now in the Louisiana Division's Rare Book Collection in the "Autograph" section.]

Also available (except for the photographs) on 9 reels of 35mm. microfilm (LN75).


Reel numbers refer to the microfilm copies; box numbers, to the original papers. The numbers before each heading refer to folder numbers.

[Reel 1]

Lyle Saxon Papers
[Note: These items, originally received with the Tallant papers, were cataloged separately as the Lyle Saxon Papers. They were, however, microfilmed as part of the Tallant papers.]
Children of Strangers
"The Man Who Loved Horses"

Box 1

1A - Biography of Robert Tallant (by Vineta Colby, from Wilson Library Bulletin, April 1953); inventory of Tallant items in the Louisiana Division Vertical File; inventory of letters in folder 1C1

[Note: The Tallant photographs are filed separately in the Louisiana and New Orleans Photograph Collection as the "Tallant Collection."]
1B1 - Photographs of Robert Tallant
1B2 - Photographs of Lyle Saxon, St. Rosalie, Mardi Gras scenes, Mrs. Zito, Jacket design for Voodo in New Orleans, etc.

1C1 - Letters to and from Tallant, 1941-1954
1C2 - Letters to and from Tallant, 1950-1953, n.d.
1C3 - Miscellaneous letters and postal cards, 1945-1954, n.d.

Miscellaneous items
1D - Miscellaneous personal items: notebook, business cards, etc.
1E - Ink sketches (2 signed by Tallant, 1 by Trist, 2 unsigned)
1F - Items relating to the centennial of Antoine's restaurant; rotogravure issues, booklets, and wine list

2A - Gumbo Ya-Ya (1945), chapters 14 and 16

[Reel 2]

2B1 - Voodoo in New Orleans (1946>
2B2 - Carbon copy of 2B1
2B2-1 - Galley proofs of 2B1
2B3 - The Goat Without Horns (4 p.)
2B4 - You Got to be Opened (14 p.)
2C1 - Mrs. Candy and Saturday Nights (1947)
2C2 - Carbon copy of 2C1
2E1 - Mardi Gras (1948), partial typescript and some page proofs

[Reel 3]

2E2 - Mardi Gras (1948), typescript
2F - Mr. Preen's Salon (1949)

Box 2

2G - A State In Mimosa (1950)
2J - The Pirate Lafitte and the Battle of New Orleans (1955)

[Reel 4]

2L1 - Ready to Hang (1952)
2L1a - Partial typescript of 2L1 in article form as originally published in newspaper
2L2 - Unpublished chapters of 2L1
2M - Love and Mrs. Candy (1953)
2N - Mrs. Candy Strikes It Rich (1954)

[Reel 5]

2O1 - Voodoo Queen (1956)
2O2 - Variant pages of 2O1
2R - "The Fury" [unpublished]
2S - "The Creoles" [Chapter 8 of Gumbo Ya-Ya]

Short stories and articles
2T1 - "Hot Night in New Orleans"
2T2 - "Decline and Fall of Southern Cooking"
2T3 - "The Most Unforgettable Character I've Met"

[Reel 6]

2T4 - "Mrs. Candy's Sure Fire System"
2T5 - "Everyone Was Beautiful"
2T6 - "Basin Street"
2T7 - "After Dark"
2T8 - "Scandal At Roselawn"
2T9 - "Lagniappe"
2T10 - "The Bereaved"
2T11 - "Portrait In the Earth"
2T12 - "Army Life in Louisiana Among Negroes"
2T13 - "Thick Grew the Ivy"
2T14 - "Marie Laveau"
2T15 - "Mrs. Candy"
2T16 - "The Golden Girls"
2T17 - "The Young Mrs. Candy"

Radio scripts
2Y - "Slaves of the Lamp" and "Bayou Theater"

Miscellaneous articles
2Z - Articles
2Z2 - Unidentified fragments of articles, memoranda, etc.

Box 3

Plot outlines
3A - Gumbo Ya-Ya (1945)
3B - Voodoo in New Orleans (1946)
3C - Mrs. Candy and Saturday Night (1947)
3G - A State in Mimosa (1950)
3I - Southern Territory (1951)
3J - The Pirate Lafitte and the Battle of New Orleans (1951)

Research material
4B - Voodoo in New Orleans (Chapter 3)
4Q - New Orleans City Guide (revision)

5A - Gumbo Ya-Ya (1945)
5B - Voodoo in New Orleans (1946)
5C - Mrs. Candy and Saturday Night (1947)
5D - Angel in the Wardrobe (1948)
5E - Mardi Gras (1948)
5F - Mr. Preen's Salon (1949)
5G - A State in Mimosa (1950)
5H - Romantic New Orleans (1950)
5I - Southern Territory (1951)
5J - The Pirate Lafitte and the Battle of New Orleans (1951)

[Reel 7]

5B1 - Voodoo in New Orleans (1946)
5C1 - Mrs. Candy and Saturday Night (1947)
5E1 - Mr. Preen's Salon (1949)
5G1 - A State in Mimosa (1950)
5I1 - Southern Territory (1951)
5J1 - The Pirate Lafitte and the Battle of New Orleans (1951)
5L1-6 - Ready to Hang (1952)
5M1-3 - Love and Mrs. Candy (1953)
5N1-6 - Mrs. Candy Strikes It Rich (1954)
5Q1 - New Orleans City Guide, revision (1952)
5Z2 - Miscellaneous clippings

Reference materials on voodoo, folklore, spirituals, etc.
6-1 to 6-5 - Published references on folklore and spiritualism
(mainly typed copies of articles originally appearing in newspapers and books)
6a - Clippings
7-1 to 7-5 - Unpublished references on folklore and spiritualism
(mainly interviews with African-Americans)

[Reel 8]

7-6 - Unpublished references on folklore and spiritualism
8-1 to 8-12 - Voodoo references
(mainly typed copies of articles originally appearing in newspapers and books)
8a - Voodoo stories--published--original
(articles from newspapers and other publications)
8b - Voodooism--mysteries, practices
(articles from newspapers and other publications; also interviews with persons associated with these)
8c - Voodoo notes--I.I. Patterson (from published data)
9-1 to 9-5 - Fanatic cults references (interviews with persons associated with these)
10-1 to 10-2 - Marie Laveau references
(articles from newspapers and other publications; interviews with contemporaries)
10a1 to 10a5 - Marie Laveau references (in numbered order as arranged by Tallant)
10b - Lola Hopkins (successor to Marie Laveau) references

[Reel 9]

11-1 to 11-7 - Spiritualist Churches
(interviews with persons associated with these and descriptions of ceremonies)
12 - Individual spiritualists
(articles from newspapers and other publications; interviews with persons associated with these)
12a - Kate Francis
12b - Black Hawk
12c - Mother Anderson
12d1-12d2 - Mother Catherine
13 - Mediums

[Box 4]

14 - Superstitions, omens, charms, gris-gris, etc. (published, original materials)
15 - Customs, chapels, shrines (related to 11)
16 - Murder (articles on various murders from newspapers and books)
17 - Clementine Barnabette
18 - Bras Coupe
19 - Songs, private--not used; bawdy songs

20-1 to 20-17 - Interviews with African-Americans of various professions: prostitutes, procurers, cooks, cane cutters, etc.
[Note: more detailed descriptions of these interviews may be found in
Hubert Humphreys, com., Louisiana Oral History Collections: A Directory]

21 - Magazines with articles on Tallant, mainly book reviews
22 - Items relating to Lyle Saxon

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