May 2014

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In This Issue
From the Director

Center Names New Board Chair

Hale Woodruff Exhibition

Louisiana Prince Hall Records Open for Research

Amistad-Xavier University Provide Archival Training to Undergraduates

GiveNOLA Day Thank You

Amistad Welcomes SSA Archivists

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From the Director

A decade... ten years...sounds like a long time... By historical measure, however, mind-boggling events have transpired only to become antiquated and extinct within duration of the same decade.  Similarly, my years at Amistad have flown by, and special note has been taken of the progression of events leading to success, failure, and re-discovery. While the cycles appear endless and seem to go on and on, in December 2013, I announced my pending retirement. The June 30, 2014, date is upon us. This will be the last time that I update Amistad's progress and present commentary as its Executive Director.


Arriving at the beginning of 2004, I was filled with ideas, things to do to make a difference. It took a while to understand, and at times I was a reluctant learner, but soon I began to appreciate the wisdom of Machiavelli: There is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than the creation of a new system.  It has been a significant learning curve for me; one from which I undoubtedly learned a great deal.


Amistad Research Center is underpinned by farsighted partners, volunteers, and other constituents that give selflessly, often without recognition, their time, expertise, and philanthropy. It is with their support that we have maintained the honor and integrity of the Center's mission and vision while remaining open to innovative change. Thanks for the notes of appreciation, words of encouragement, sharing of resources, and time, but mostly for the sincerity and trust.


Over the decade, I have also learned the wisdom of having a positive, enthusiastic, and industrious staff. Our goals remained simple.We increased professionalism at Amistad and embraced new and effective use of technology to enhance productivity and professional services. It takes a group of exceptional staff persons to commit to their jobs on a daily basis despite challenges to consideration of annual wage increases.


I will always remember our shared accomplishments, as well as our struggles. Embedded in my memory is also a never-ending supply of black coffee in the staff-room to aid work efforts, but thanks to Nino's Cafe for a special brand of pizza and an occasional bottle of wine to celebrate individual and group successes.


I am extremely grateful for the role that everyone has played throughout the years. They have been happy years and a decade that I will always remember fondly. 


Executive Director
Lee Hampton
Amistad Research Center Names New Board Chair

Phelps Dunbar Attorney and Partner Kim Boyle was appointed chair of the Amistad Board of Directors at its December 2013 meeting. Boyle is active in local, state, and national bar activities, having previously served as president of the Louisiana State Bar Association and also the New Orleans Bar Association. She has also assumed leadership positions for many community organizations and initiatives throughout New Orleans. She was Chair of the 2013 NCAA Women's Final Four, and currently serves on the Touro Infirmary Board of Trustees and the Tulane University Board of Trustees.


"I am honored to be elected chair of Amistad's Board, and I will immediately work to become extremely familiar with every aspect of this great organization and the challenges it faces," Boyle said.  "Backed by board colleagues and an outstanding professional staff, I look forward to playing a leadership role in Amistad attaining an even greater level of excellence."


Joining Boyle as a new officer is Dr. Janice Sumler-Edmond, who will serve as board secretary. Sumler-Edmond is a professor of United States history, African American history, and constitutional history and law at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas. In addition, Dr. Edgar Chase, III and The Honorable Terri Love have been selected new board members. Judge Love sits on the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal and Dr. Chase is a retired educator, lawyer, and CPA who serves on numerous nonprofit boards.


The Amistad Research Center is committed to collecting, preserving, and providing open access to original materials that the racial and ethnic history of the United States, race relations, the Civil Rights Movement, and related topics. Board leadership and support is instrumental in helping the Center fulfill its mission.

Hale Woodruff Exhibition Open Through August
Hale Woodruff, circa 1927.

In 1938, Hale Woodruff began research on what would become one of his most well-known works of art -- a three-panel mural on the Amistad Mutiny that was commissioned by Talladega College in Alabama. For years, the mural resided in Talladega's Savery Library, but is now on a national tour after being professionally conserved. The current stop on the tour is the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), which is featuring "Rising Up: Hale Woodruff's Murals at Talladega College" through September 14, 2014.


The Amistad Research Center's archival collections contain not only primary source records related to the Amistad Case, but the personal papers of Hale Woodruff, as well. The Center is proud to announce its exhibition "Rising Up II: The Life and Work of Hale Woodruff" which is currently on display now through August 29th. Through letters, photographs, Woodruff's writings, and material related to his teaching career, the life and influence of one of America's outstanding artists of the twentieth century is examined.


Amistad invites visitors to view the Woodruff materials on display at Amistad, as well as the Talladega Murals at NOMA. Information and a checklist for Amistad's exhibition is available on its website. More information on the mural exhibition can be found at NOMA's website, as well as the website for the High Museum of Art, which is sponsoring the traveling exhibition.
Records of Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Louisiana Now Open
Members of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Louisiana, 1950s
The Amistad Research Center is pleased to announce the opening of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons of Louisiana Records (1857-2002). It is always an exciting time at the Center when the processing department finishes a large preservation and access project since the work can take months, if not years, to complete. Amistad received the initial deposit of the Grand Lodge's records in 2008 with additional materials retrieved from the temple building in Baton Rouge in 2012 and 2013. The project got underway in November 2012, and the Center was pleased to assist the Grand Lodge in celebrating its 150th anniversary by highlighting the accomplishments of the organization and its members with an exhibition in January 2013. The exhibition, "Unity and Brotherly Love: 150 Years of the M.W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge, Free & Accepted Masons of Louisiana," showcased the work of the fraternal organization's membership for the betterment of African Americans in Louisiana and beyond.

During the 1840s, members of St. James A.M.E. Church in New Orleans petitioned to organize a Masonic lodge. This request was approved and, in 1849, the Richmond Lodge No. 4 in New Orleans was established, first under the jurisdiction of Pennsylvania and then later under Ohio. By 1863, New Orleans established two additional lodges (Stringer No. 11 and Parsons No. 18), enabling the trio to form a Grand Lodge. This Grand Lodge of Louisiana, named Eureka in order to differentiate itself from white membership lodges, was established on January 5, 1863, at the hall of Richmond Lodge No. 4 between Customhouse and Bienville streets. The first Grand Master was John Parsons, a leading political figure in New Orleans. In 1944, the act of incorporation for the Eureka Grand Lodge was amended and the organization was renamed-the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons of Louisiana.

The records of the Louisiana Grand Lodge are a rich source of documentation about the history of African American freemasonry in Louisiana and throughout the United States, the period of post-Civil War Reconstruction, the long civil rights movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the modern civil rights movement. The records encompass 68 linear feet of materials that illuminate the internal workings of the Grand Lodge and the extent of the local and national Masonic network, including African American businesses and philanthropy; community, economic and educational activism; partnerships with civil rights organizations; and experiences with discrimination and segregation.

The finding aid to the collection can be found in Amistad's online finding aid database. Researchers interested in viewing the collection are encouraged to contact the Center's Reference Services via phone at 504.862.3222 or via email at
Partnership with Xavier University of Louisiana Trains Students in Archival Practices

Since 2009, the Amistad Research Center has enjoyed a close partnership with the History Department at Xavier University of Louisiana to host and mentor undergraduate students interested in gaining experience in an archival setting. Working closely with internship coordinator Sister Barbara Hughes, Professor of History, Amistad archivists have received exceptional assistance to arrange and preserve a number of collections, including the papers of civil rights activist and minister Homer C. McEwen, the records of the Women's Auxiliary to the National Medical Association, and more recently the records of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons of Louisiana. The Masonic records project, started in the fall of 2012 and completed just this month, provided the archivists with many conservation challenges. The assistance of three Xavier interns, Alexis Parker, Joi Martin, and Tiera Harris, helped immensely to get the collection organized and ready for research.


The Xavier interns who have worked at Amistad have been personable, dedicated to their projects, and a delight to interact with. One of the main goals of the mentoring program at Amistad is to encourage African American and minority students to pursue the field of archives and libraries as a profession. Amistad's archival team was pleased to keep in touch with our first Xavier intern, Chianta Dorsey, following graduation. Dorsey decided to seek a Masters in Library and Information Science and a Masters of Art in History at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts, following her experience at Amistad. During her studies at Simmons, she has completed archival internships at the University of Massachusetts and the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) at Boston University. "I performed my archives internship at the Amistad Research Center from January through May of 2009," writes Dorsey. "My internship offered me a professional foundation for my graduate education in Archives Management at Simmons College and for my subsequent work in archival institutions. Processing the papers of Homer C. McEwen served as invaluable work experience and introduced me to archival theory. For that, I am forever indebted to Laura Thomson, Lee Hampton, and all of the staff at the Amistad Research Center."


Reflecting on her time at Amistad, former intern Jayla Jones states, "Working at the Amistad Research Center was an amazing and rewarding experience. I was given the opportunity to do research on the Women's Auxiliary to National Medical Association and I learned a great deal about the women of the organization and their commitment to their association. I was very fortunate to be given the chance to intern at Amistad and will always be appreciative to Sister Barbara, Mr. Lee Hampton, and Mr. Christopher Harter."


The Amistad Research Center is pleased to continue partnering with Xavier University, and the archival staff looks forward to working closely with future interns.
A Thank You to Our GiveNOLA Supporters
The Amistad Research Center extends a special thank you to everyone who donated to the Center during the GiveNOLA Day philanthropy campaign on May 6th. Thanks to the generous support of 60 donors, Amistad raised over $5000, which will assist the Center in pursuing its mission to collect, preserve, and provide access to its unique collections. In addition, Amistad will receive a percentage of the special "lagniappe" fund that will be rewarded to all GiveNOLA participants. Amistad would also like to thank all of the individuals, businesses, and organizations who contributed to and sponsored GiveNOLA Day.
As a reward for their generous support, three donors were selected in a raffle and will receive a special gift from the Center. Our congratulations to donors Ellie Tweedy, Beretta Smith-Shomade, and Robert Williams, who will each receive a copy of Amistad's Beyond the Blues fine arts catalog. 
Amistad Welcomes the Society of Southwest Archivists
The Society of Southwest Archivists (SSA) has returned to New Orleans for its annual meeting from May 28-31st. Members of Amistad's staff have served on the local arrangements committee and assisted with the meeting preparations for this regional gathering. The Center will also host a tour for SSA members on Friday, May 30th. 

SSA serves over 500 archivists, special collections librarians, preservationists, conservators, records managers, and others interested in the preservation of our documentary heritage. The six states in the SSA region are Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas. The annual meeting provides members an opportunity to engage in professional dialogue with other archivists, take part in educational opportunities, and learn more about member institutions' collections. Information about the 2014 New Orleans meeting is available on the SSA website

On behalf of everyone at the Amistad Research Center, welcome SSA members!