Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Annual Report of the Secretary-Treasurer

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Annual Report of the Secretary-Treasurer

Article excerpt

IT WAS VERY GOOD TO BRING OUR MEETING BACK TO NEW ORLEANS at long last, given the many challenges we've faced in doing so after Hurricane Katrina. We seem to have beaten another storm--this one economic--by holding our meeting in mid-October. I think that if we had met a month later, with the economy in free fall, we might well have seen a significant drop-off in terms of attendance. As it was, we did see a small number of cancellations just prior to the meeting but still counted 1,350 registered attendees, which is below the usual turnout for our meetings in New Orleans but above our average meeting attendance in recent years.

We are grateful to a great many people in the city for the warm welcome we received and for the opportunities we were given to confront post-Katrina damage, either by working with a Habitat for Humanity project--as a number of our members did for a full day before the conference began--or by bus and walking tours throughout the city, with those through hurricane-damaged areas drawing the most people. Karen Leathem of the Louisiana State Museum took the lead in organizing our tours and work details and in hosting the lively opening-night reception at the Cabildo. Lawrence N. Powell of Tulane University also played a big part in the planning and execution of these events, as well as in raising the funds locally that made that first night in the Quarter such a success. We are especially grateful for the contributions made to the reception by all the local colleges and universities--from Tulane, the University of New Orleans, and Louisiana State University, to Loyola University New Orleans, Dillard University, and Xavier University of Louisiana. Almost all of these institutions took major financial hits as a result of Katrina, and yet they wanted to express their gratitude for the Southern's commitment to the city and determination to hold our meeting there, despite the delays and setbacks we faced in doing so. We all felt and appreciated their very warm welcome.

Sylvia R. Frey, another New Orleanian, and Nick Salvatore co-chaired the Program Committee and put together a strong and varied program. Highlights included no fewer than eight sessions that focused on New Orleans and Louisiana topics, ranging from early colonial cultural patterns to the impact of Katrina and the long heritage of New Orleans's relocation and displacement that preceded it, along with sessions on the city's voodoo traditions and the Civil War home front and a showing of the documentary film Faubourg Treme, on one of the most historic black neighborhoods in New Orleans. Even the European History Section struck a local note with their luncheon program, a talk by distinguished Austrian historian Reinhold Wagnleitner, who spoke on "Satchmo Meets Amadeus," from his book of the same title. Sarah Wilkerson-Freeman used the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel to mount an exhibit of Jack Robinson's striking photographs of Canal Street and environs in the early 1950s. It garnered a great deal of attention and discussion over the course of our meeting, so much so that the Sheraton has maintained much of the display in their front window, where it was to remain at least through Mardi Gras this year.

One of the largest audiences--over 180 people--turned out to hear both scholarly and musical tributes to longtime Tulane University historian Bill C. Malone, on the fortieth anniversary of his landmark work Country Music U.S.A. (Austin, 1968). Leon F. Litwack's stirring and very timely presidential address drew a large and receptive audience and was followed by a reception where singer Tracy Nelson and her band entertained in honor of Leon, an old friend from his early years at Berkeley. Leon, along with Rebecca Scott and members of the Program Committee, had worked hard to organize a fascinating session on various aspects of Cuban history and historical memory. It was to have featured participation by Cuban scholars, which, in bringing them to a conference in the United States, would have been a significant breakthrough. …

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