Data Gathering Campaigns
CAHP collects data concerning all things related to North Claiborne Avenue past, present, and future. As well as the in-house storage, archival management, and digitization of this data, we are maximizing on community participation and engagement using several approaches:
- Filming of Interviews & Recording Oral Histories
- CAHP Roundtable Discussions
- Ongoing Archival Research Around Civil Rights, Culture, & Commerce
- Extensive Property History Research
- Expanding CAHP In-House Databases
- Articles Published by The New Orleans Tribune
- Community Participation via Traditional & New Media Campaigns
- Partnerships with Community Organizations, Institutions, & Archives
- Engaging Students via Presentations at Local Universities
Filming Interviews, Oral Histories & Roundtables
CAHP is a grassroots multi-platform documentary project that captures stories behind the life, devastation and resurrection of a great American avenue, with the express purpose of fostering conversations about identity, culture, agency, and equity as we move forward into the twenty-first century.
To aid in achieving this goal, CAHP staff members have been filming individual video interviews and recording oral histories with New Orleans residents since 2016. Participants include former and current N. Claiborne corridor residents, community leaders, business owners, musicians, and other important culture bearers.
CAHP Community Participation projects include the organization’s Roundtable discussions, led by Dr. Raynard Sanders. These Roundtables discussions feature community members telling their stories of how they remember North Claiborne in its heyday, and how they envisage its future.
CAHP Roundtables, interviews, and oral histories are a vital part of CAHP’s documentary film Claiborne Revisited, currently mid-production. This material has contributed greatly to CAHP panel events at The New Orleans Jazz Museum, and will also form part of the CAHP interactive website.
Beginning in 2013, CAHP staff members have been gathering information from archives within New Orleans and beyond pertaining to N. Claiborne Avenue around the three themes of Civil Rights, Commerce, and Culture. These archives include the William Ransom Hogan Jazz Archive & Special Collections at Tulane University; the Williams Research Center (WRC) at The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC); The Amistad Research Center; The New Orleans Jazz Museum; Tremé’s Petit Jazz Museum; The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum; The New Orleans Notarial Archives; Louisiana Division/City Archives at the New Orleans Public Library (NOPL); Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection at The University of Texas Libraries; the Library of Congress (LOC); plus numerous important online data bases such as CreoleGen; The Louisiana Creole Research Association (LA Creole); and Ancestry.com.
Using Dropbox and Google Drives, CAHP has been building in-house data bases from which we draw materials for presentation via the organization’s different platforms (CAHP events, panels, films, and social media pages). These databases include still and moving images relating to N. Claiborne; property histories; newspaper articles; biographies; bibliographies; and timelines. Some of this material has been featured within small physical exhibits at the New Orleans Jazz Museum, and within CAHP short films. We will continue draw from these databases to create content for an interactive CAHP website; for future online and physical exhibits; and for the CAHP documentary feature film Claiborne Revisited, currently mid-production.
Who owned the property along N. Claiborne Avenue through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries? Did business owners also own the property where there business was located? Did they lease buildings from a landlord? Who was the landlord? What was the value of the property, and did this change? How did property values there compare with those in other parts of the city? How were these values tied to other historical developments? Will this research shed greater light on what we already know about the history and development of N. Claiborne?
Property research is a vital way into telling the stories of Claiborne Avenue through the generations. It begins with the compilation of a chain-of-title, a chronological list of individuals, families, and businesses who owned the lot in question. These include valuable information concerning the history of the built environment through architectural drawings, property surveys, and building contracts. In short, this allows us to construct a picture not just of the men, women, and children who lived, worked, and played along North Claiborne, but also to reconstruct the houses and other structures that form the setting for our study. By establishing an accurate historical representation of the Claiborne Avenue that has been lost, we find ourselves in a stronger position to contribute to the shaping of the future of the city.
While Claiborne Avenue stretches the entire width of Orleans Parish, our focus lies on the area bounded by Canal Street and Elysian Fields Avenue. These twenty-two blocks comprise the heart of Tremé and the Seventh Ward, neighborhoods integral to the history of African Americans in New Orleans. We have identified specific lots along Claiborne Avenue to target for in-depth property research.
At present, research has been completed for eight properties, and research for an additional eight is in process. Completed research include 610 North Claiborne, the site of Bertrand’s Studio, where pioneering African American photographer Florestine Perrault-Collins shot portraits of Black Creole society during the 1920s; 1100-1108 North Claiborne, where the schismatic St. Nom de Jesus Church provided a space for freedom of religion to African American Catholics during the Civil War and which transformed in the twentieth century into the home of the Acme Industrial & Life Insurance Company; 1480 North Claiborne, the site of the Musicians’ Union Local 496, where African American musicians in the city got gigs, built pensions, and socialized; and 716 North Claiborne where Emile LaBranche began his rise to the top of the pharmacy business in mid-twentieth century New Orleans.
Property records from the nineteenth century strongly reflect changes in municipal administration, urban development, and the demography of the city. Records from the notarial archives reveal social connections, reflect legally defined racial hierarchies and gender roles, in addition to their intended purpose of documenting the business transactions which constituted the majority of the city’s economy at any given point in history. Property surveys include architectural drawings, watercolor paintings of buildings, and scenes of nineteenth century city life. In addition to compiling a census of businesses and residences along Claiborne Avenue, therefore, we will be able to also re-establish an accurate visual representation of the built environment.
Beginning in the 1950s, federally-funded interstates such as the I-10 expressway over N. Claiborne devastated urban communities. Predominantly, these “white roads through black bedrooms” impacted communities of color. As a result, the complex cultural and economic landscapes like N. Claiborne were radically altered. These stories have not been told. The vast record of expropriations and other civil litigation between property owners, tenants, and local, state, and federal agencies remains unexamined.
While the story of N. Claiborne parallels other major American cities, the Claiborne story is nonetheless unique. Despite impacts from historical structural inequalities, highway construction, and contemporary development pressures, residents hold tight to their history and to the Avenue’s rich and original cultural traditions. This sense of place is critical to the long-term health of the community. Working with local partners CAHP captures the historical and continued significance of N. Claiborne for the African American community.
Please join conversations about N. Claiborne Avenue’s past, present, and future on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest @TheCAHP.