oral history

Historic New Orleans Collection

If you kept tabs on local politics over the past several decades, then Jackie Clarkson’s name isn’t lost on you. This staunch Democrat represented many of the city’s downtown neighborhoods from Bywater and Treme to the French Quarter and Algiers, her childhood home.

But what influenced her to pursue a life in politics? Mark Cave found out when he interviewed Ms. Clarkson for this edition of NOLA Life Stories.

K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen staff photo, 1981.
Courtesy of Frank Brigtsen

Chef Paul Prudhomme changed the American food world forever with his creative, exuberant love for Creole and Cajun food. He was the first American chef to take the reins at Commander's Palace — where the world first had a taste of his culinary genius. He pioneered the now commonplace farm-to-table movement, as he championed Louisiana's farmers and fishermen. As Ella Brennan said, “He had magic in his hands.”

Joyce N. Boghosian / The White House

Leah Chase: say the name and New Orleanians know exactly who you’re talking about. She’s a great chef, a civil rights activist, and an avid art collector. And it’s not a stretch to say that – to some people – she’s the maternal figure of the city. On this edition of Nola Life Stories, Leah Chase, in her own words.  

This interview was conducted by Mark Cave for the Historic New Orleans Collection.

Marion Post Wolcott / Library of Congress

The historic Dew Drop Inn in Central City is in the midst of a revival. For many years it was the hot spot in the Jim Crow South where guests could catch a show, grab a sandwich, spend a night, and even get a haircut.

Thomas Walsh

People’s expectations about “entertainment” aren’t what they used to be. What passed for fun as little as 10 years ago can’t compete with the stimulating, instant gratification of our iWorld.

The owners of the Musee Conti Wax Museum know this too well: earlier this year they sold the building, which will close in January and be replaced by a set of condominiums. Sandra Weil gave tours there for nearly 30 years and shares the back story of the museum.

Historic New Orleans Collection

When Sal Impastato handed over the keys of the Napoleon House this past spring, it was an emotional moment.

Selling the business to restauranteur Ralph Brennan had been a difficult decision because the building had been in Sal’s family for generations – first as a grocery, then as a bar.

Historic New Orleans Collection

Lois Tillman fondly remembers a Chinaberry tree that was in the yard of her childhood home. It was there that her Papa taught her to love poetry, which began her literary journey.

As the years came and went, Lois became a teacher, a writer, and a performance poet known as Starlyte.  She found out inspiration comes in many forms, from the terrestrial to the cosmic.

St. Bernard Fire Department via The Historic New Orleans Collection

This month, as part of WWNO's ongoing Katrina 10 coverage, we bring you The Katrina Files: Reflections from First Responders. This series is based on oral histories conducted by The Historic New Orleans Collection and hosted by Paul Maassen.

StoryCorps

In the immediate days after Hurricane Katrina, Ben Rongey’s father gave him a special pass which gave him full access to Jefferson Parish. At the time he was a high school senior and acted accordingly: he called his friend Wyatt Higgins so they could explore the city together.

They smooth-talked a National Guardsman, crossed into Orleans Parish, and headed for Wyatt’s house. Flood waters prevented them from driving into the Gentilly neighborhood, so they parked the car and walked the final trek.

Lisa Richardson, left, is the Director of Research & Evaluation at the Institute of Women & Ethnic Studies. Denese Shervington, right, is its President & CEO.
StoryCorps

For a couple of years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans’ narrative belonged to the people who endured the storm and those who helped rebuild after it. But as time went on and the city recovered, things changed. New demographics emerged and people started talking about “the new New Orleans.”

These changes left many people, including psychiatrist Denese Shervington and urban anthropologist Lisa Richardson, wondering about the city’s new identity and their place in it.

Pages