Louisiana Division
New Orleans Public Library

Cornelius Durkee Photograph Collection

Date range:   1901
Size of collection:   70 prints
Source:   Donation, Saratoga County, NY, 1976
Terms of Access:   Available to registered researchers by appointment.
Copyright Information:   Please discuss with an archivist in the Louisiana Division.


Historical Note

Cornelius Emerson Durkee (1837-1933), a resident of Saratoga Springs, New York, was head of the baggage department for the Delaware & Hudson Rail Road in nearby Albany. He came to New Orleans in 1901 with Cassius B. Thomas, a prominent Saratoga Springs businessman and managing director of the Saratoga Floral Association. They appear to have come to New Orleans as guests of the Rex organization and as such had access to the Rex parade floats in and immediately outside the krewe's den on Calliope St., and they were also aboard the yacht that carried Rex into the city on the day before Mardi Gras. The upshot of their visit was the purchase of the entire Rex parade by the Floral Association for use in the 1901 edition of Saratoga's Floral Fete. It is not known if Thomas and Durkee made the purchase while in New Orleans (there is evidence that Thomas, at least, was in New Orleans during the month of April), but we do know that the floats were in New York by May 24, when their arrival was reported by the Troy [N.Y.] Daily Times.

Material from the 1901 Saratoga Floral Fete, including a photograph of one of the Rex floats, can be seen at the Saratoga Springs Public Library Digital Collection.

It is not certain that Durkee was the photographer who exposed the images that comprise this collection. The photographs appear to have been found in a collection of materials given by Durkee or his heirs to Skidmore College and later turned over to Saratoga County. They were kept in two small envelopes, one marked "New Orleans, Feby, 1901" and the other marked "Rex Parade, New Orleans, La., 1901." Violet Dunn, the Saratoga County Historian, sent them to the New Orleans Historic Districts/Landmarks Commission in August, 1976. Saundra K. Levy, Director of the Commission, turned the photographs over to the New Orleans Public Library at a later date.

Scope and Contents

The photographs document aspects of New Orleans life during one week during the month of February, 1901. They include scenes of the 1901 Mardi Gras. Also included are scenes in local cemeteries, in City Park, on city streets, and along the riverfront. A number of the photographs depict African American New Orleanians.

The original prints are ca. 3 1/2" x 3" and are mounted on 7" x 6" board. Each print was scanned on a Hewlett Packard 4100c scanner in full color mode at a resolution of 400 dpi. Scanner images were cropped to remove excess border and saved at a width of 1400 pixels in TIFF format. The TIFF images were edited using Photoshop 4.0 to produce greyscale JPEG images of 600 pixel width. The JPEG images are available online; see the following section for individual image descriptions and links to the individual files.

Detailed Description of the Photographs

On the way to New Orleans:
Steamboat Island Queen
Station on the L&N Railroad line in Mississippi, February 11, 1901

Thursday, February 14, 1901
Rex floats in their den, February 14, 1901
Crescent City Jockey Club, entrance, February 14, 1901
Crescent City Jockey Club, race in progress, February 14, 1901
Crescent City Jockey Club, racetrack, February 14, 1901

Friday, February 15, 1901
African American children in St. Louis Cemetery #1, February 15, 1901
African American children in St. Louis Cemetery #1, February 15, 1901
African American children in St. Louis Cemetery #1, February 15, 1901
African American children in St. Louis Cemetery #1, February 15, 1901
African American children in St. Louis Cemetery #1, February 15, 1901
St. Louis #1 Cemetery, Micajah Green Sems tomb, February 15, 1901
St. Louis #1 Cemetery, Myra Clark Gaines tomb, February 15, 1901

Saturday, February 16, 1901
Cattle ship at levee preparing to load 1800 horses for South Africa, February 16, 1901
Milk cart, February 16, 1901
St. Ann and Chartres Streets, February 16, 1901
Holt Cemetery, February 16, 1901
St. Roch Avenue, February 16, 1901
St. Roch Cemetery, February 16, 1901
St. Roch Chapel, altar, February 16, 1901
Jackson Barracks, February 16, 1901
Chalmette Monument, February 16, 1901

Sunday, February 17, 1901
Metairie Cemetery, Aldridge tomb, February 17, 1901
Metairie Cemetery, February 17, 1901
Metairie Cemetery, February 17, 1901
Metairie Cemetery, February 17, 1901

Lundi Gras, February 18, 1901
North Rampart Street, February 18, 1901
North Rampart Street, February 18, 1901
North Rampart Street, February 18, 1901
West End, garden, February 18, 1901
Steamboats on the river, (possibly February 18, 1901)
Lundi Gras, February 18, 1901, landing of Rex on the levee
Lundi Gras, February 18, 1901, levee scene at the foot of Canal Street
Lundi Gras, February 18, 1901, reception of Rex, Major Isaacson (Rex Captain) on the royal yacht
Lundi Gras, February 18, 1901, reception of Rex, Rex on the royal yacht
Lundi Gras, February 18, 1901, reception of Rex, Rex on the royal yacht
Lundi Gras, February 18, 1901, reception of Rex
Lundi Gras, February 18, 1901, reception of Rex
Lundi Gras, February 18, 1901, reception of Rex
Lundi Gras, February 18, 1901, reception of Rex
Lundi Gras, February 18, 1901, reception of Rex
Lundi Gras, February 18, 1901, reception of Rex
Lundi Gras, February 18, 1901, reception of Rex

Mardi Gras, February 19, 1901
Rex parade, February 19, 1901, float #01: King's float
Rex parade, February 19, 1901, float #03: Riches
Rex parade, February 19, 1901, float #04: Venture
Rex parade, February 19, 1901, float #04: Venture
Rex parade, February 19, 1901, float #05: Marriage
Rex parade, February 19, 1901, float #06: Indulgence
Rex parade, February 19, 1901, float #08: Art
Rex parade, February 19, 1901, float #09: Religion
Rex parade, February 19, 1901, float #10: Poetry
Rex parade, February 19, 1901, float #11: Ambition
Rex parade, February 19, 1901, float #12: Contentment
Rex parade, February 19, 1901, float #13: Music
Rex parade, February 19, 1901, float #13: Music
Rex parade, February 19, 1901, float #14: Jealousy
Rex parade, February 19, 1901, float #15: Folly
Rex parade, February 19, 1901, float #16: Hope
Rex parade, February 19, 1901, float #17: Love
Rex parade, February 19, 1901, float #18: Sentiment
Rex parade, February 19, 1901, float #19: Frivolity
Rex parade, February 19, 1901, float #20: Indolence
Mardi Gras, February 19, 1901, St. Charles Avenue
Mardi Gras, February 19, 1901, St. Charles Avenue
Mardi Gras, February 19, 1901, St. Charles Avenue
Rex parade, February 19, 1901, St. Charles Avenue
Rex parade, February 19, 1901, waiting for the parade at Lee Circle
Rex parade, February 19, 1901, waiting for the parade on St. Charles Avenue
Rex parade, February 19, 1901, waiting for the parade on St. Charles Avenue

Wednesday, February 20, 1901
City Park, Duelling Oaks, February 20, 1901
City Park, lagoon, February 20, 1901


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Coded: 7/20/1999; updated 1/20/2013
Coded by: Wayne Everard