Louisiana Historical Association

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The Louisiana Historical Association (LHA) is an organization of professional historians and interested laypersons dedicated to the preservation, publication, and dissemination of the history of Louisiana, with particular emphasis at the inception on territorial, statehood, and the American Civil War periods. Since its founding on April 11, 1889, the association now reaches into the history of the late 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.

LHA publishes the state historical quarterly journal, Louisiana History, with editing and printing handled through the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The association also publishes several books related to state history, including A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography (accessible on-line), New Orleans in the Gilded Age, and The Louisiana Purchase and Its Peoples.[1]

LHA 19th-century history

LHA was established in New Orleans, originally envisioned as a depository for Confederate military documents, publications, and other Civil War relics. The association headquarters at the Howard Memorial Library[2] at Lee Circle was dedicated on January 8, 1891, in honor of Major General Andrew Jackson's defeat of the British on January 8, 1815.[3]

Many prominent Confederates supported the association, including the widows of General Braxton Bragg and President Jefferson Davis. Although the association emphasized the Civil War period, other phases of Louisiana history were not ignored. An official seal was adopted on which important dates in Louisiana history are displayed. Efforts were also made to gather materials from the colonial and antebellum past.[3]

Incorporated under state law, the LHA's stated purpose is defined as the collection of "such books, pamphlets, papers, documents, flags, maps, plans, charts, paintings, engravings, lithographs and other pictorial representations, [and] manuscripts" pertaining to the territorial, state, and the Confederate history of Louisiana. The state granted the LHA the right to compile and publish or to commission books, charts, and other documents and to apply for copyrights and patents.[3] LHA originally permitted membership only of "Caucasian persons of good moral character," including Confederate veterans or non-veterans who had lived in the state for at least five years.

Quickly the organization outgrew the limited space of Howard Library. Therefore, the architects Thomas Sully (1855-1939) and Albert Toledano, who formed a partnership in 1882, were commissioned to design a Romanesque building to be connected to the library. The new brick one-story building with basement, known as Memorial Hall, was surrounded by a high terrace. Its retaining wall and steps were of Long Meadow brownstone. The interior was finished in polished cypress. Display cases were arranged against the walls in the main hall, which was equipped to serve as both a meeting place and a museum.[3]

On December 6, 1889, Jefferson Davis died in New Orleans and was entombed there at Metairie Cemetery. In 1893, Mrs. Davis decided to have his remains placed permanently in Richmond, Virginia, where his presidency had been based.[3] His copper casket was removed from its vault in the tomb, placed in a brass-trimmed oak coffin, and transported under military escort to LHA's Memorial Hall, where it lay in state until the next evening. A steady stream of mourners passed by the Davis casket, including Governor Murphy James Foster, Sr. (1845-1921). Davis' remains were then loaded aboard the Louisville and Nashville Railroad for the trip to Richmond.[3]

The 1958 reorganization

In March 1958, Edwin Adams Davis, head of the history department at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge called a meeting of professional historians and other interested persons to organize a new, active, statewide historical society. This meeting was set at the Southern Baptist-affiliated Louisiana College in Pineville in Rapides Parish, in Central Louisiana. The LHA contacted Davis and suggested a reinvigoration of the LHA, rather than the formation of a new association. At the Pineville meeting, thirty-five new members were added. On June 6, 1958, a general meeting of the LHA convened at Memorial Hall on the LSU campus, and appropriate amendments to the charter were adopted. By this act, the Louisiana Historical Association was reorganized and a new slate of officers was elected. Edwin Davis, author of a textbook on Louisiana history, became president, with Kenneth Trist Urquhart, as vice-president, and John C. L. Andreassen, a book collaborator with Edwin Davis, as the secretary-treasurer.[3]

Notable LHA presidents

Since reorganization in 1958:[4]

  • Edwin Adams Davis (1904–1994)-—1958 (LSU)
  • Kenneth Trist Urquhart (1932–2012)-—1959 (St. Mary's Dominican College)
  • John S. Kyser (1900–1975)-—1960 (president of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches)
  • Garnie William McGinty (1900–1984)-—1962 (Louisiana Tech University in Ruston)
  • Walter M. Lowrey (1921–1980)-—1963 (Centenary College of Louisiana (Shreveport)
  • Charles L. Dufour (1903–1996)-—1964 (The New Orleans States-Item, defunct publication)
  • Joe Gray Taylor (1920–1987)-—1967 (McNeese State University]] in Lake Charles)
  • John David Winters (1916–1997)-—1968 (Louisiana Tech University)
  • Charles P. Roland (born 1918)—1969 (Tulane University)
  • Morgan D. Peoples (1919–1998)-—1975 (Louisiana Tech)
  • John L. Loos (1918-2011)-—1976 (LSU)
  • Joy Juanita Jackson (1928–1996)-—1977 (Southeastern Louisiana University, first woman LHA president)
  • Hubert D. Humphreys (1923–2009)-—1978 (Louisiana State University in Shreveport)
  • William Y. Thompson (1922–2013)-—1980 (Louisiana Tech)
  • Donald Rawson (1925–2014)-—1982 (Northwestern State University)
  • Michael L. Kurtz (born 1941)-—1984 (Southeastern Louisiana University)
  • Samuel Wilson, Jr. (1911–1993)-—1986 (architect and historic preservationist)
  • Billy Hawkins Gilley (1927–2017)-—1988 (Louisiana Tech)
  • Mark T. Carleton (1935–1995)-—1992 (LSU)
  • Stephen Webre (born 1946)-—1997 (Louisiana Tech)
  • Philip Charles Cook (born ca. 1934)-—2006 (Louisiana Tech]
  • Light Townsend Cummins (born 1946)-—2013 (Austin College in Sherman, Texas

See also


  1. The Louisiana Historical Association. lahistory.org.
  2. On his death in 1911, Frank T. Howard left $5,000 to the association, an amount the organization invested.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Kenneth Trist Urquhart, "Seventy Years of the Louisiana Historical Association," Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association, 1960, pp. 5-24.
  4. Presidents of the Louisiana Historical Association. lahistory.org.