2016 Sunset Report

OLG & DCRT Strategic Plan
2020-21 through 2024-25


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Photography and Film

HistoryRecordingsPaintings & PrintsPhotography & FilmInstruments


Photo Collection

The photo collection consists of around 12,000 photographs. The bulk of the photos feature the local music scene from about 1950 onward, focusing on traditional and Dixieland performers. Outside these categories musicians will be well represented if they came from New Orleans before gaining fame elsewhere, such as Jelly Roll Morton, Sidney Bechet, and Louis Armstrong.

Beyond musicians, the Louisiana State Museum has numerous photos of locations that were important to jazz, nightclubs and bars and the like. These sometimes were taken decades after the buildings had played their part in jazz history, often when they were about to be torn down in the 50?s and 60s. Also included are numerous photos of street parades and funerals, especially funerals of notable musicians, dating from the 1950s to the 1990s.

Some Notable Specifics:

  • One notable original is of Armstrong returning in triumph to the Waif's Home in the early thirties, posing with Mr. and Mrs. Jones, who ran it, and Peter Davis, his teacher. Armstrong is grinning and holding the cornet that is now on exhibit. Also included is a large original print of Louis Armstrong's Hot Five, a recording group during the 20s whose importance cannot be overemphasized, autographed by four of the five members, as well as numerous publicity photos from the thirties. The collection has several photos of Armstrong as King Zulu at Mardi Gras in 1949, including some recently discovered snapshots previously unknown, and a large number of photos from his visit to New Orleans and the Jazz Museum on Oct. 31, 1965.
  • The Original Dixieland Jazz Band made the first jazz record in 1917, and it sold over a million copies, helping to launch the craze for jazz. The collection has several good period photos of them, both in their original form in the teens and when they regrouped in the 1930s.
  • Several members of the Superior Orchestra went on to become legends, such as Bunk Johnson and George Bacquet.

Interested in seeing more historic Jazz images? Visit our Jazz Collection on the Louis Digital Library here.

Film Archive

The bulk of the film holdings is several hundred rolls of various sizes donated in 1978 by local TV news cameraman Don Perry. While some film is out-takes from assignments for his station, WDSU, much of it he shot pursuing his own interests, and as he was a co-founder of the New Orleans Jazz Club, much of it relates to jazz. The time covered is about 1970-76. The jazz-related films feature concert and nightclub footage, funerals and parades, footage concerning the Jazz Museum, and the first two Jazz & Heritage Festivals.

The Jazz Collection also has film from other sources, notably Mel Leavett at WWL. He was a jazz fan, and during the 60s he would occasionally get used footage from the evening news shows routed to the Jazz Museum, film that otherwise would have been thrown away. Most of the film dates no earlier than about 1960, including footage of the opening of the original Jazz Museum in November of `61.