Finding photos in unlikely places

Finding photos in unlikely places

Finding photos in unlikely places

(this article is cross-posted to NOLA History Guy)

finding photos

Carver House Terrace Restaurant at Lincoln Beach, New Orleans, 1956 (courtesy

Finding photos in unlikely places – it’s fun!

Checking our Facebook group, “Ain’t There No More” (the title is an homage to a popular New Orleans song) this morning, I saw Todd Price of posted another of his “lost restaurant” articles. Todd’s one of the food-and-drink writers for the Times-Picayune newspaper. You’ll see me refer to the T-P as “Da Paper” occasionally. Da Paper has an extensive photo database. Todd makes wonderful use of it. Not really sure how he gets his job done, some days. One day, I’ll get Da Paper to hire me in some capacity. Then, access to all those images and articles is mine! 🙂

Most of Todd’s old restaurant photos engage readers, However, today’s article had a neat find. The photo up top is Carver House Terrace Restaurant. This was the “nice” place at Lincoln Beach, the old Jim Crow amusement park. Here’s Todd’s caption:

The restaurant was part of Lincoln Beach, the lakefront amusement for black New Orleanians. When the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964, the previously whites-only amusement park Pontchartrain Beach was integrated. Lincoln Beach closed that same year. (1956 photo)

This is a particularly nice find, because it’s hard to come up with good photos of Lincoln Beach. Since it was the segregated park. Therefore, you didn’t have photo-bug white folks with disposable income walking around, like one would see at Pontchartrain Beach, the whites-only amusement park. Newspaper reporters didn’t go out there as much for slice-of-life segments, or people-having-fun stories. Most of the photos that are easily viewed are from after it closed, or of musicians and other entertainment acts that played to the African-American audience.

Be creative when you search

That doesn’t mean photos of Lincoln Beach don’t exist. It’s a question of refining search fields and digging in the right offline collections. In this case, Todd found Carver House in Da Paper’s restaurant files. It’s likely that the photo wasn’t tagged with a keyword for the park.

Jim Crow-era research is problematic in general, because so many of the “separate but equal” facilities were anything but. So, when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law, those facilities were rendered redundant. White-only facilities were far better, so black folks integrated into those. The other big problem is that Jim Crow-style segregation was outlawed 53 years ago. This photo of Carver House is from 1956. It’s over 60 years old. While archivists will save everything they get their hands on, government agencies were quick to box up segregation and put it on the shelf. Sometimes the “shelf” was the dumpster out back.

Finding photos on African-American subjects

Researching Jim Crow-era subjects? Your best bet for finding photos is family photo collections. Maybe grandpa and grandma saw Fats Domino out there. Possibly they ate at Carver House. So, ask around. Somebody’s got a box of old photos in the attic.

Go dig around!

ArcadiaCoach (dot com)

You’ve seen those books in the “Local Interest” section of your bookstore. You know, the ones with the sepia-tone covers, the “Images of America” books from Arcadia Publishing. We’re here to help you get your Arcadia book started!

Edward Branley is the author of five Arcadia titles, as well as his latest book, Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store, published by The History Press.

Dara Rochlin is a freelance editor. She assisted Edward with research on his book, New Orleans Jazz, as well as research and manuscript editing for the Krauss book. Dara is also Edward’s editor for his fiction projects. Dara and Edward now share their expertise with you, to make your Arcadia title a success.

Getting Started – The Author Proposal

Getting Started – The Author Proposal

Getting Started

getting started

Getting Started – The Author Proposal

You’ve passed by that “Local Interest” section in your favorite bookstore for years. Folks you know are amazed at the knowledge you have about your town, sports team, college, or some other local topic. You’re ready to do this!

Or are you?

The Author Proposal is the process by which you decide. It’s not difficult to work with, but it is detailed. You need the answers to a number of questions about your project. This is where you make the decision to go forward. Let’s start the process with some general things you need to answer, if you want to write a history book. While we’re working within the context of writing a book for Arcadia or The History Press, the things you need to work through apply to submitting a book proposal for other imprints as well. While the details in specific proposal packages vary, the basics are common.

What do you know?

It’s one thing to think you know a particular subject. Actually knowing enough to write a book is another. Friends, neighbors, and colleagues help with this discernment. If folks really tell you, you should write a book, that’s a good start. Many history books tell their story chronogically. So, start your timeline. Turn it into an outline. Run it past your friends.

Don’t worry about credentials

You don’t need to have a doctorate to write a history book! You don’t even need a college degree. This is important – you do need to be able to write. Maybe not perfectly, but you have to get in front of a keyboard. So, if you can write a 1500-word introduction and a lot of 20 to 50-word captions, you’re up to the challenge. If you want to tell a longer story, write a thousand words. Get friends and colleagues to look it over. Be ready to accept their critiques.

Just because your writing needs work doesn’t mean you can’t write a book! Using an editor may be the route you take.

Get to work – go to our Author Proposal page to learn more about the process.

Let’s write a History book!

Let’s write a History book!

Your friends always tell you that you should write a book about your home town, where you work, your school, or perhaps your church. Among other things. Let’s make that happen!