Mark T. Carleton

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Mark Thomas Carleton​

(Louisiana State University historian-professor)

Born February 7, 1935
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Died October 2, 1995 (aged ​60)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana​
Spouse Maureen O'Hearn Carleton (married 1963-1982, divorced)​

Roderick Lewis Carleton
​ Michael Owen Carleton
​ Mark Albert Carleton​
Alma mater:
Yale University
Stanford University

Mark Thomas Carleton (February 7, 1935 – October 2, 1995), was an historian who specialized in political studies of Louisiana. From 1964 until his death at the age of sixty, he was a professor at Louisiana State University in his native Baton Rouge.


Carleton received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1957 from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. He served thereafter in the United States Marine Corps during peacetime from 1957 to 1960. He earned a Master of Arts in 1964 and a Ph.D. in 1970, both from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.[1]

Carleton served from 1973 to 1978 on the "good government" group, the Public Affairs Research Council. He left LSU in the 1976-1977 academic year to be the PAR director but returned to the history department in 1978. The previous PAR director Ed Steimel, in 1975 had founded the trade association, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.​ ​ In 1963, Carleton married the former Maureen O'Hearn, and they had three sons: Roderick Lewis, Michael Owen, and Mark Albert. The couple divorced in 1982.[1]

Academic career

​ In 1971, Carleton published his Politics and Punishment: The History of the Louisiana State Penal System (1971), with emphasis on the large prison farm at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola in East Feliciana Parish]], bordered on three sides by the Mississippi River. Carleton reports that nearly "overnight" in Louisiana and several other southern prisons, the inmate population became predominantly African-American.[2] The prison was populated at first mostly by young men from farming backgrounds. Carleton claims that agriculture became key to southern prisons in the era after the American Civil War. Convict labor and farm work became "synonymous terms in the public and political mind."[3]

In 1975, Carleton co-edited with sociologist Perry H. Howard and Joseph B. Parker the anthology entitled Readings in Louisiana Politics. His contribution includes a study of the three failed gubernatorial campaigns in 1956, 1960, and 1964 of Mayor deLesseps Story "Chep" Morrison (1912-1964) of New Orleans.[1]

In 1989, Carleton lauded the start of the Buddy Roemer gubernatorial administration from 1988 to 1992. He claimed that Roemer, who failed to gain reelection in 1991, had changed the mind-set of the state so that the citizens would understand that henceforth they had to foot their own tax bills, rather than depend on business, particularly petroleum interests, to carry the burden. He also hailed Roemer's early attempt to manage the state budget.[4]​ ​ Carleton was active in the establishment at LSU of the T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History, named for T. Harry Williams (1909-1979), the Midwestern-born historian known particularly for his studies of the American Civil War and Huey Pierce Long, Jr.[1] In 1992, he was elected president of the Louisiana Historical Association, based in Lafayette.[5]

Other publications

  • River Capital: An Illustrated History of Baton Rouge (1981)[6]
  • Louisiana Politics: Festival in a Labyrinth (1982)[1]
  • Louisiana: A History (co-author, 1984)[1]

Carleton's papers, consisting mainly of printed material, typescripts, and correspondence, were deposited with LSU. The materials include his career as a professor as well as his association with the Public Affairs Research Council.[1]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Mark T. Carleton Papers,, accessed July 23, 2010; material no longer accessible on-line.
  2. Mark T. Carleton (1971). Politics and Punishment: The History of the Louisiana State Penal System. Louisiana State University Press. Retrieved on April 11, 2020.
  3. Plantation Days at Angola: Major James and the Origins of Modern Corrections in Louisiana,, November 1993; material no longer on-line.
  4. "Historian grades governor highly," Minden Press-Herald, March 31, 1989, p. 1.
  5. Presidents of the Louisiana Historical Association Since Reorganization in 1958. Retrieved on April 11, 2020.
  6. Mark T. Carleton, River Capital: An Illustrated History of Baton Rouge,, accessed July 23, 2010; no longer on-line.