NPN and Cane River Creole National Historical Park Curation Facility (Pre site) Friday, Sep 25 2009 

The Natchitoches Preservation Network, http://natchitochespreservation.ning.com seems to be primarily a free social networking site for people interested in preserving the heritage of Natchitoches Parish. I am unsure if there is a physical location of the network, per se. Jeff Guin runs the website. He also makes video documentaries, some of which are available at http://preservationnetwork.blip.tv and is a guest column (with Natchitoches Preservation Network byline) in the Natchitoches Times. Joining NPN is easy. The site even has a group for Heritage Resources. I have no idea what to expect from the visit with Mr. Guin, but look forward to it.

Cane River Creole National Historic Park Curation Facility

Most websites featuring the Cane River Creole National Historic Park exclude information on curation or the facility.  I found the following information, each of which has at least a snippet of information on the Curation Facility:

http://www.nps.gov/cari/index.htm
http://canerivercreole.areaparks.com/
http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h2384/text
http://socialsciences.nsula.edu/heritage-resources-professional-partners/
http://wryansmith.wordpress.com/internship/

Additionally, I found a video of Rodney Meziere on Guin’s Preservation Network TV, http://preservationnetwork.blip.tv/ talking about collections conservation (part of curation) using the  poster he presented at the “Preservation in Your Community” event in August 2009.
The Curation Facility is located at 400 Rapides Dr. Natchitoches, Louisiana 71457, about a mile from campus http://tinyurl.com/CRCNHPCuration

It is a mysterious and unassuming building owned by the National Parks Service. The phone number is (318) 352-0383.

Little information is available online about the facility. I am unsure if it is open to the public. I expect to find a working curation facility, minimal interpretation, and a small lab.

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Old Courthouse and its contents Thursday, Sep 24 2009 

exterior view

exterior view

The Old Courthouse Museum/Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Regional History Museum Project

A tourist may be disappointed in the lack of exhibits on display, unless they were coming to see artist renditions of the planned Sports Hall of Fame.  There were no other visitors during our visit.

The Courthouse Museum’s most compelling draw is the building itself. Its Richardsonian Romanesque features include a central tower, rounded arches and rough-faced oxblood brick. Inside the building has high ceilings, large internal transoms (vasistas, or rectangular shaped fanlights) built for ventilation before widespread use of electricity, doors perhaps 10 or 12’, molding, and other interesting architectural features like the circular stairs on the second floor.

Staircase in old courthouse

Staircase in old courthouse

steamboat from diorama

steamboat from diorama

Vault door- old courthouse

Vault door- old courthouse

The records vault now houses a nice collection of miniature models of historic Natchitoches, dioramas and dollhouses.  The staff was very helpful.

The Sports Hall of Fame and Regional History Museum will not be up and running until 2011. The museum would benefit from rotating displays and other public events between now and then.

 

 

The Natchitoches Parish Genealogical & Historical Association Library is located on the Second Floor of the Old Courthouse. The library keeps records and offers resources for the geographical area that was once Natchitoches County (1805).  These records include Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne, DeSoto, Grant, Red River, Vernon, Webster and Winn Parishes, in addition to present-day Natchitoches Parish.

Shirley Small-Rogeau

Shirley Small-Rogeau

Fern Christensen and Shirley Small-Rogeau guided us during our visit. The library was professional, especially for an all-volunteer operation. The space was clearly delineated from the remainder of the building, and the resources were organized well.

Volunteers offer assistance to those wishing to do genealogical research at the facility. The library had a number of resources, including court records, census roles, church documents, and numerous books on genealogical methods, as well as family genealogies.
Various 942351 172The volunteers working the day we visited explained that race, gender, and class make genealogical research more complex, and a variety of different tools must often be employed.

The Genealogical and Historical Society is dependent upon membership dues and donations. Members pay $15 per year, which includes subscription to the Natchitoches Genealogist.

My biggest concerns revolve around the use of technology.  The library does have computer work stations with CD ROM and internet access, including subscription services, but most of the resources are in hard copy only. The library has a minuscule online presence.

I like the idea that the library is run by a membership organization with hundreds of paid members. This is a rare phenomenon in this day. Will the membership model of the association be able to sustain the library through the 21st Century? More immediately, will the library be able to remain in its current location when the museum moves and the building once again faces adaptive re-use?

The Cammie Henry Research Center in Watson Library Thursday, Sep 24 2009 

On this visit (my second) to the third floor of the library, there were no other visitors save my class, Dr. Haley and a student worker. Archivist Mary Linn Wernet greeted us as we walked in.

Archivist Mary Linn Wernet at card catalog

Archivist Mary Linn Wernet at card catalog

She explained the Statement of Purpose, and gave the class a primer on Cammie G. Henry, the archives’ namesake. The visit included an introductory lesson on library/ archival terminology, and an explanation of some of the many resources that the Research Center houses.

 

Ms. Wernet explained the protocols of the archives, and the use of the Request for Materials form. Researchers are not to use ink pens or spiral bound notebooks. They can bring their own laptops. Researchers should call ahead. Some databases, including the Bayou Periodicals Index, are available online. Many resources are cataloged in the Cammie Henry card catalog. “Retrospective conversion” from card catalog to digital is slow and occasionally leaves out important information.

 

The Center has Louisiana books, rare books, microform, maps and newspapers, and boxes upon boxes of primary documents. Some of the primary resources available include artist Clementine Hunter, local photos, Kate Chopin, North Louisiana History, the Civil War, the Federal Writer’s Project, Red River steamboats, and of course the Cammie G. Henry manuscript collection, which according to the trifold “spans from French Colonial times through the 1940s”.  The center also houses the official archives of Northwestern State University.  It is obviously a premier archival research facility.

My biggest concern is adequate funding for the facility. Mary Linn and Sheila Thompson (Library Specialist I) work very hard to maintain a top-notch facility.  At times of state financial crisis, higher education funding is often on the chopping block. For example, this year the entire library is closed on Saturdays.

 

Old Courthouse, Natchitoches (Pre-site) Thursday, Sep 17 2009 

Pre-Site Visit  Old Courthouse, Natchitoches:

Natchitoches Parish Genealogical Library

Old Courthouse Museum/ Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Regional History Museum Project

1) Resources Consulted (web pages [list URL], personal contacts, brochures, newspaper/radio/television advertisements, etc.):

The Louisiana State Museum offers useful information http://lsm.crt.state.la.us/natch1.htm , focusing on the building’s history and architecture:  http://lsm.crt.state.la.us/natch1.htm

In 2004 the building held important exhibitions commemorating the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase http://www.caneriverheritage.org/main_file.php/historicdistrict.php/81/ In 2006 the museum hosted an exhibition on creole cooking http://www.keyingredients.org/000_venues/000_venues_05.asp?popupsize=550&type=Exhibition&venue=150, and two years ago the Old Courthouse Museum hosted artist George Rodrigue  http://www.historicnatchitoches.com/2007/06/old-courthouse-museum-exhibits-blue-dog/ But a recent article from the Natchitoches Times revealed that the museum no longer has revolving exhibits and its hours have been drastically reduced.

The Genealogical association maintains the following website: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~lanatchi/ngl.htm

The internet researcher will also find copious amounts of information regarding the architecture of the proposed Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and North Louisiana Regional History Museum:

http://www.archdaily.com/30539/sports-hall-of-fame-and-regional-history-museum-trahan-architects/

http://www.archdaily.com/tag/louisiana-state-sports-hall-of-fame-and-regional-history-museum/

http://www.archicentral.com/the-new-louisiana-state-sports-hall-of-fame-regional-history-museum-by-trahan-architects-23094/ and  http://www.crt.state.la.us/ltgovernor/media_view.aspx?id=223

Additionally, Dr. Haley sent an email saying: ‘[t]he Genealogical Library has a number of books, newspapers, microfilm etc. that may benefit you during your MAHR career, and the Museum will be of interest as a planned facility (and some of the community resistance that can occur as a result).”  The HABS report on the building is also available online.

2) Location (Yahoo/Google Maps, etc.) and Distance from NSU:


The Old Courthouse is located at 600 2nd St Natchitoches, LA 71457, about a mile (twenty minute walk) from NSU Campus http://tinyurl.com/noe585/

3) Owner/Manager (include contact information):

Old Courthouse Museum

(318) 357-2270

Natchitoches Genealogical and Historical Association operates on a volunteer staff structure.

(318) 357-2235
ngha@wnonline.net


4) Site Description (in your own words):

The old courthouse is a large 2 ½ storied brownish-red brick building with a tower extending above the roof-line directly above the front double doors. It is located in the Natchitoches Historic District.

5) Ease of Finding Information and 6) Quality/Quantity of Information:

Information on the building, its history and architecture was easy to find. Detailed information on the entities housed in it was much more difficult to obtain.  The Genealogical Association has a basic and seemingly static website. Information on the architecture of the proposed “LOUISIANA SPORTS HALL OF FAME AND NORTH LOUISIANA REGIONAL HISTORY MUSEUM” is widely available, but I could find no information on the offices in the Old Courthouse.

7) Visitor Expectations Based on Available Information:

I have conflicting expectations, but trust that the visit will prove to be interesting.

Cammie Henry Research Center (Pre-site) Thursday, Sep 17 2009 

Cammie Henry Research Center at the Watson Memorial Library

1) Resources Consulted (web pages [list URL], personal contacts, brochures, newspaper/radio/television advertisements, etc.):

The library website http://library.nsula.edu/cammie-henry-research-center/ provides basic information, including contact information. I have visited the archives and introduced myself to Ms. Wenet two weeks ago. She generously offered me an introduction to the archives, and offered hard copies of relevant information, most of which is available online.

You can also find information through the Natchitoches Preservation Network, http://natchitochespreservation.ning.com/group/cammieghenryresearchcenter

2) Location (Yahoo/Google Maps, etc.) and Distance from NSU:


The Cammie Henry Research Center is located on the third floor of the Watson Library on NSU Campus.  The library is easily accessed from the University Parkway (College Avenue) parking lot on the north side of the building.

3) Owner/Manager (include contact information):

The owner is the NSU, a public university in the State of Louisiana. Abbie Landry is the Interim Director of the Library, but archivist Mary Linn Wernet  runs the Cammie G. Henry Research Center. Shelia Thompson is the archival library technician.  They can both be reached at (318) 357-4585. Hours are Monday-Friday 8 am-5 PM.

4) Site Description (in your own words):

Third floor of the library. See also #2 (above) and #7 (below).

5) Ease of Finding Information and 6) Quality/Quantity of Information:

The Internet makes finding and accessing the information easy. One gets a good sense of what the components of the archives are in general terms. More detailed information is harder to come by.  As more of the collections get electronically inventoried, more information will be available to the researcher.

7) Visitor Expectations Based on Available Information:

I expect to see much of the third floor of the library, including a stacks area, rare books under lock and key, map drawers, and vertical files, and microform: all staples of a good general library archive. I hope to also see listening stations and digitizing equipment.

Jonesville Site (Troyville Mounds post-site visit report) Sunday, Sep 13 2009 

 

Dr. Lee carefully digs around cane mat artifact

Dr. Lee carefully digs around cane mat artifact

I was happily surprised upon arrival at the old bridge archaeological site. Archaeologist Aubrey “Butch” Lee was using a trowel to carefully extract a large piece of cane matting from the blue clay that surrounded it.  The mound was built with alternating layers of clay and cane. He also displayed a peg, and discussed charred posts that were used in the construction of the great mound. Lee repeatedly referred to the Winslow Walker excavation and report.

 

Chief Lonnie L. Martin of the Chitimacha Tribe worked on site and monitored for human remains. Chief Martin said that there was no evidence of human remains thus far. He recounted a story of repatriation when an oil and gas line was drilled in Southwest Louisiana.

 

 

Butch Lee explained that the soil was transported here for bridge fill, and that since none of the original stratigraphy was left intact their process differed from a standard archaeology grid.  The team used a track-hoe to carefully pull down the soil, layer by layer in 1 or 2 10 cm increments. When we visited they were on pass number nine.

 

The mounds and nearby middens date to the 600s and 700s CE.  Butch explained that much research potential remains, despite the sites being disturbed over the years, overturning earlier notions that little would be gained from excavation or preservation of the mounds. He then told our delegation  that the Archaeological Conservancy purchased land around one mound, and that the remaining dirt from the 1930s era bridge fill (which came from the Great Mound) would be transported to a nearby School Board property to build a  scale replica of the Great Mound.

 

Leaving the site, our class drove around the town to find a few embankments and at least two markers designating the complex.  I realized that the early town was built almost directly on top of the mound complex. I contrast the decimation of the Troyville Great Mound during the First New Deal period with the preservation of Moundville in Alabama during the late 1930s and construction of a museum with CCC labor. Overall, this was a great visit. I am happy to know that Jonesville may finally be able to leverage these important cultural resources for tourism.

Camp Livingtson Site (post-site report) Sunday, Sep 13 2009 

The Camp Livingston site is part of Kisatchie National Forest. It resembles other parts of Kistatchie that I have visited: red clay and longleaf and other yellow pines are predominate. What made this obviously different was the predominance of well-built paved roads.

MAHR cohort pausing for lunch in Kisatchie, near Camp Livingston site

MAHR cohort pausing for lunch in Kisatchie, near Camp Livingston site

 

Our visit was punctuated by torrential downpours. The rain offered a respite just long enough to see the enlisted swimming pool area. At first I thought this would be a great place for camping. Then I noticed the bullet and shotgun shell casings around the area of the enlisted pool and heard that the place gets overrun with four wheelers in the Fall. There were no other visitors other than our cohort to the site during our time there.

 

Rodney Stone, District Ranger of the Catahoula Ranger District provided our group with  the 1945 Army map of Camp Livingston, an informative handout entitled “Camp Livingston Information,” and additional information on Kisatchie.

 

The scale of Camp Livingston- some 3,000 acres- and the scattered nature of the remaining above ground artifacts makes it somewhat difficult to preserve or interpret. Also, the Forest Service is likely to be just as concerned with selling pine sawtimber and pulpwood (in a sustainable manner)  and maintaining Kisatchie’s core mission, caring for the land (managing the 640,000 acres of forest) and serving people (presumably keeping people from destroying the natural resources) as preserving one of many de-commissioned sites that once had 400,000 military in the area.

 

Despite the makeshift shooting range in what was the enlisted swimming pool, the Camp Livingston area does offer good recreational possibilities. The paved streets provide good access to deeply wooded areas, even for the average passenger vehicle. The site is perfect for hunting (in season, with license, and according to regulations), four wheel riding, hiking and horseback riding.

 

The water tower and water tower building (which we did not see) should probably be nominated for the National Register as a living piece of Camp Livingston architecture. An interpretive plaque or larger covered signage should alert the public to the importance of Camp Livingston, and offer some interpretation of the military camp that once stood there.

 

The site made me think long and hard about adaptive re-utilization. Central Louisiana has been coming to grips with the downsizing of the military since the end of the “Cold War” and the more recent implementation of “lean production” within the military, privatization of key logistical and support services, and the outsourcing of traditional military functions.

 

 

Camp Livingston and Camp Beauregard Museum Friday, Sep 11 2009 

A visit to Camp Livingston and the Camp Beauregard Museum highlight the overwhelming military presence in central Louisiana during the second half of the 20th century.  I have heard stories from a friend of the family about the numerous camps and troop movements throughout CenLA during World War II, including Camp (Ft.) Polk and Camp Livingston.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Camp Livingston


 

 

Camp Livingston is a de-commissioned military base currently part of the Kisatchie National Forest. It is managed by the US Forest Service.  You can contact the Kisatchie National Forest Headquarters at  2500 Shreveport Highway Pineville, Louisiana 71360-2009 Phone: (318) 473-7160. http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/kisatchie/contact/index.html

 

 

The following information on Camp Livingston is available online:

A good overview from Louisiana Military Heritage website http://www.usskidd.com/heritage-bases.html managed by the Louisiana Naval War Memorial Commission;  an article from The Town Talk (Alexandria Newspaper) http://www.thetowntalk.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070415/COMMUNITIES/704120341/1079

; and two articles on WinnFreeNet:http://camp-livingston.winnfreenet.com/

and http://camp-livingston.winnfreenet.com/range.php


 

The only specific Forest Service information I could find online was the following:  http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/kisatchie/images/Brochures/OHV_Meeting_Brochures/Catahoula_RD/Livingston_Trails_Brochure.pd


Reliable information is difficult to find online. Camp Livingston is located about 75 miles from NSU http://tinyurl.com/kpq4hr


 

Based on the information available online, I doubt there will be much in the way of an interpretive center. I hope that we will find some portions of the camp well-preserved with some public interpretive materials, but expect most of the area of interest to fade into the surrounding fauna.

 

 

 

 

 

Camp Beauregard Museum

Camp Beauregard Museum is run by the Louisiana National Guard. Its official title is the Louisiana Maneuvers and Military Museum. Not to be confused with Civil War Ft. Beauregard (a Confederate earthen redoubt overlooking the Ouachita River in Harrisonburg, Catahoula Parish), Camp Beauregard is an Army National Guard base in Rapides Parish. It is located at 409 F Street, Camp Beauregard, Pineville

http://tinyurl.com/ncmdhx about 61 miles (just over 1 hour) from NSU.

 

 

 

 

The Army National Guard has a poorly maintained website, http://www.la.ngb.army.mil/dmh/immm.htm

 

 

 

The website lists hours as M-F 7:30AM- 4 PM and contact information: 318-641-8333, jbmuseum@la-arng.ngb.army.mil

 

 

 

 

Based on the website, I expect a small military museum, maintained by the military where reveille is sounded daily and taps is rarely heard. It will inevitably act as an apology for the heavy military presence- occupation- in the area, tugging on the heartstrings of American Patriotism and the purse strings of a region with little economic development. This, like most military museums run by the military be an “emic”” interpretation,  raison d’être war and occupation.

 

 

 

Jonesville site (Troyville Great Mound) Wednesday, Sep 9 2009 

Troyville Earthworks

Troyville Earthworks

Information on the Jonesville Site (Troyville Great Mound) is available online through a number of sources, including a State DOT press release, online articles from the Concordia Sentinel (Concordia Parish borders Catahoula Parish to the east), and the article by Aubra “Butch” Lee, “The Troyville Site: Embankment and River Bank Excavations” in Louisiana Archaeology:

http://www.dotd.la.gov/press/pressrelease.asp?nRelease=616

http://www.laarchaeology.org/files/newsletter343.pdf

http://www.catahoulahistory.com/webpage4.cfm?content=News&id=59&CFID=20026181&CFTOKEN=42692

http://www.concordiasentinel.com/news.php?id=670

http://www.concordiasentinel.com/print.php?story=3781

http://www.crt.state.la.us/archaeology/moundsguide/downloads/page-downloads/troyville.pdf

Troyville is a video by Phat River Studios, hosted by Eric Glatzer, and vailable on Youtube.

You can also watch a Youtube video of the demolition of the Black River Bridge  (also by PhatRiver) here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wozmLjQrs8s

The site is located at Latitude: 31.626694 Longitude: -91.8165 near the Black River bridge near confluence of the Ouachita, Tensas and Little Rivers. It is about 100 miles from NSU. The bulk of the site seems to be owned by the DOT. Some parts of the Troyville complex are privately owned. The Archaeological Conservancy has recently purchased the land that Mound #4 sits on.

The Troyville complex is a National Register site. I recently stopped by the site on a driving tour of mounds in Catahoula parish (Harrisonburg, McGuffee between Jonesville  and Harrisonburg, and the Peck Mounds at Lake Louie on Sicily Island).

On the Saturday before Labor Day the site of the Great Mound looked like a mundane bridge construction site.

old brige bank, Jonesville

old bridge bank, Jonesville

Copious information is available online, but little interpretive information is obvious in Jonesville. This is the epicenter of the Troyville culture (the one we learned about in undergraduate archaeology class) . I hope that the public interpretation on -site is continually developed.  I look forward to the site visit led by archaeologist “Butch” Lee.