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Archives and Special Collections: Department Information

Mission Statement

The mission of the Archives and Special Collections Department of the Ellender Memorial Library is to serve as a repository for primary and secondary material relating to the geographical, historical, political and cultural uniqueness of Louisiana, primarily South Central Louisiana; to support the instructional, research and service programs of the University; and to provide a written, oral and pictorial record of the University. 

By promoting interest in the history of this area and by procuring, organizing, preserving and providing access to material documenting this history, the Archives and Special Collections Department aids the Library and the University in their commitment to strengthen the social and cultural infrastructure of this region.  For the purpose of preservation, the collection also contains non-regional rare and/or significant monographs and other media from a variety of disciplines.  

Policies

User Community

Materials in the Archives and Special Collections unit are available for use by any person with an interest in our collections, including but not limited to students, faculty, university administrators, scholars from other institutions, members of the community, and local media. 

Facilities and Use

The Archives is located on the first floor of the Ellender Memorial Library on the Nicholls State University campus.  All collections are non-circulating; however, the materials are available for in-house use by the University community and by the general public. Some material may be restricted for various periods by law, or by conditions of a donor or purchase agreement. Restrictions to use may also apply to fragile or extremely rare material. The Archives maintains a formal display area, the Ellender Room, as well as providing a reading room for those using the collections. The Archives Annex, also located on the first floor, houses the map and microfilm collections. 

Visitors are asked to sign in before using archival materials. See our Archives homepage for information on our hours. Appointments are encouraged.

Reproductions of archival materials can be made upon request. The following rates apply:

Paper copies $ 0.10 per page
High resolution digital scans $ 1.00 per page

The Archives and Special Collections department is divided into six general areas: University Archives, Manuscripts/Local History Collections, Rare Books, Louisiana Book Collection, Genealogy, and Newspapers.

University Archives

The University Archives houses archival records of the University beginning in 1948 when the University began as a Junior College of Louisiana State University.  The Presidents' Archives hold the official papers of former presidents, Charles C. Elkins, Vernon F. Galliano, Donald J. Ayo, and Stephen T. Hulbert.  The department receives non-current records of not only the President's office, but also other administrative units, academic departments and organizations.  Yearbooks, class bulletins, student and faculty newsletters and newspapers, special reports, committee minutes, photographs, scrapbooks, films, and other related items document the growth of the university from its beginnings to the present.

Manuscripts/Local History Collections

The holdings in the Manuscript Division represent a diverse collection of materials such as personal and official correspondence, business ledgers and records, literary manuscripts, diaries, newspapers, scrapbooks, oral histories and numerous other forms of documentation reflecting the interests and activities of the individuals, institutions, and organizations that focus on the bayou region of South Central Louisiana.  Many collections document the antebellum and postbellum plantation era and the sugar cane industry. Highlights are the Martin-Pugh Papers (Albemarle Plantation) and the J. Wilson Lepine Collection (Laurel Valley Plantation).  Other collections document the architectural, educational, industrial and political history of the region.  Also of importance are the Robert “Bob” Jones Papers. An engineer by trade, Jones was involved in the first restoration of a barrier island along the Louisiana coast in the 1980s.   Other noteworthy collections are the Lafourche Parish Courthouse Historic Records, which contain official parish documents in English, French and Spanish, some dating as early as the late 1700s. The Evangeline Baseball League Collection, which contains memorabilia of minor league baseball in the region from the 1930s-1950s.  The J.A. and J.C. Lovell Survey Map Collection documents land ownership in the bayou region from the 1800s to the mid-1900s.

The Papers of Senator Allen J. Ellender are the largest single holding in the Special Collections Department.  Born in Bourg, Louisiana in 1891, Ellender served in the United States Senate from 1937 until his death in 1972.  Senator Ellender was chairman of the Agriculture Committee, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and was president pro tempore.  The bulk of this extensive collection consists of Senator Ellender's office files.  Other materials include photographs, memorabilia, and a film collection--all of which serve to document the life of the Terrebonne native.      

The Archives offers extensive historical photograph collections of local historic places, events, and personalities.  The William Littlejohn Martin Collection, Maude Billiu Collection, Lee Martin--Thibodaux Volunteer Fire Department Collection, Meyer Family Collection and the R.A. Bazet Collection are just a few which represent a wide variety of local subjects.

Rare Books

The department is also responsible for the Library's collection of rare books. Original titles dating from the 17th century, facsimile editions dating to the 11th century, first editions, early and important editions, unique material, autographed copies, and volumes deemed exceptionally noteworthy because of regional or national significance are included in this collection.  Of particular significance is the Shaffer Collection of John James Audubon's The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America.  Other interesting items include Merlins Prophesies and Predictions by Thomas Heywood (London, 1651); Nouveaux Voyages aux Indes Occidentales by Bossu (Paris, 1768); Lafitte or the Baratarian Chief, A Tale. Founded on Facts. (New York, 1828); Poems by Mrs. Louisa H. Nicholls, the mother of the University’s namesake (New York, 1857); and a facsimile edition of The Great Domesday Book.

Louisiana Book Collection

The Library’s collection of Louisiana titles are housed in the Archives.  The collection contains titles related to Louisiana subjects as well as those written by Louisiana authors. Noteworthy are signed copies of Every Man a King: The Autobiography of Huey P. Long (New Orleans, 1933) and War, Politics and Reconstruction: Stormy Days in Louisiana by Louisiana Reconstruction Governor Henry C. Warmoth (New York, 1930).  The collection also includes an extensive collection of Louisiana cookbooks and a collection of books related to Hurricane Katrina.

Genealogy

The Genealogy division contains church and parish records, ship passenger listings, regional genealogical journals, and personal collections such as the Olga Laurent Collection, Godfrey J. Olivier Collection and the Doris Mae Naquin Ledet Collection. These and other similar resources provide abundant research opportunities for local genealogists seeking to establish their family lineage.

Newspapers

The Archives houses the Library’s collection of microfilm of Louisiana newspaper titles.  Local titles offered include the Lafourche Comet (later renamed Daily Comet), Houma Courier, Assumption Pioneer in addition to the Times Picayune of New Orleans and the Advocate of Baton Rouge.  The department also houses rare and original editions of 19th and early 20th century newspapers as well as headlines of newsworthy events such as Hurricane Katrina.

University Archives

Additions to the University Archives from University departments are encouraged.  However, the records must be considered non-current departmental records and records which are scheduled for permanent retention. The Archives will not accept records which are scheduled for destruction through the University’s record management policy.  Additions of University related ephemera and memorabilia is determined on a case by case basis.  Any material considered for transfer to the University Archives must be arranged through and approved by the Archivist.

Special Collections

The department acquires manuscript materials that meet its mission and collection scope mainly through gifts.  The generosity of the many donors who have given historically significant material has greatly enhanced the research value of our collections and has enabled us to document, safeguard, and make accessible the rich and colorful history of this area.  Therefore, donations to Special Collections are welcomed and encouraged.  Accepted materials must meet the department’s mission statement and collection scope.  All materials must be legally transferred through a deed of gift or other official acknowledgement signed by the Archivist and the Donor.  Only in special circumstances, as deemed by the Archivist, will donations with restrictions be accepted.  Although Special Collections does not routinely purchase manuscript material, exceptions may be made on a case by case basis depending on availability of funding and importance of the material.

Purchases for Special Collections pertain mainly to the Louisiana Book Collection which covers all aspects of Louisiana history and culture, but focused primarily on South Central and South East Louisiana including the city of New Orleans.  Books are acquired through vendors of Louisiana related publications.  Funding for the collection is allocated by the Library’s Head of Collection Development.  Liaisons from the main library are encouraged to alert the Archivist when they discover books about Louisiana or by Louisiana authors.  Depending on the availability of funds, second copies of relevant Louisiana books may be purchased for the main circulating collection as deemed appropriate by the Head of Collection Development. 

Deaccessioning

Duplicates or materials that do not reflect the Archives & Special Collections’ collecting scope or do not possess sufficient archival value or because of poor condition may be deaccessioned, subject to any stipulations contained in the deed of gift.  Deaccessioned items may be offered to other appropriate institutions, returned to the donor or his/her heirs or discarded.

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