New Orleans 2005 Annual Meeting
SAA’s 69th Annual Meeting
New Orleans, LA
August 14–21, 2005
New Orleans Riverside
The People, the Place, the Food—and All That Jazz!
Welcome to New Orleans—the birthplace of jazz and the home of Mardi Gras,
Second Line Parades, and the world’s finest cuisine. Known as the Crescent
City or Big Easy, this uniquely “un-American” city provides fascinating
experiences for out-of-town visitors. With its two football teams called the
Saints and Voodoo, its above-ground cemeteries and its elaborate funeral celebrations,
New Orleans is a very special place.
The Crescent City is situated in the bend
of the Mississippi River, below sea level, just 110 miles upstream from the
Gulf of Mexico. It is bound by Lake
Pontchartrain, canals, and a series of bayous that provide an abundance of
fresh seafood. For many years America’s number one port, New Orleans
remains a gateway to global markets and a major tourist attraction.
has always been a multicultural seaport city. Today, descendents of black and
white Creoles, Africans, Cajuns, Italians, the French, the Irish,
Germans, Cubans, Viet-Namese, Chinese, and Japanese—all call New Orleans “home.” American
Indians inhabited the Gulf Coast for thousands of years before Jean Baptiste
le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, and John Law claimed the area for France in 1699.
Enslaved Africans and gens de couleur and gens de couleur libre (free people
of color) were included in the original settlements. The first Code Noir, or
Black Code, was enacted in 1724 to restrict the freedoms of African-descended
people. French Acadians began to arrive in 1755. In 1763 La Nouvelle Orleans became a colony of Spain at the signing of the Treaty of Paris. Spain ceded
the territory to France in 1803. Following the 1803 slave rebellion in French
colonial St. Domingue (Haitian Revolution), France was defeated and Napoleon
sold the Louisiana territory to the United States for $15 million. A large
number of white planters, French Creoles, slaves, and free people of color
immigrated to the city of New Orleans.
Still governed by Napoleon’s Civil
Code, and older than the United States, New Orleans contains some of the world’s
most significant archival collections. Visitors are treated to a very visible
legacy of cross-cultural sharing in
the city’s architecture, food, and music. Indeed, New Orleans may be
described as a living museum or special heritage site.
The French Quarter,
or Vieux Carre (Old Square), is the oldest fauberg (neighborhood). This 120-square-block
area is famous for its narrow streets and Spanish architecture.
The highly ornamented 18th and 19th century balconies reflect the work of early
African blacksmiths. St. Louis Cathedral was constructed and dedicated in 1794.
The city’s landscape is sprinkled with thousands of historic buildings
and architectural treasures ranging from French and colonial plantation houses
to Creole cottages and majestic mansions in the Garden District and along St.
To get acquainted with the city, ride the streetcar and view
the majestic mansions along St. Charles Avenue. Take a stroll on the Riverwalk,
enjoy both the beauty of the Mississippi River and access to shopping. Explore
the antique shops and art galleries of the French Quarter. Tour the new downtown
arts district or any one (or more!) of the city’s excellent museums.
Consider visiting our parks and libraries. Whether you enjoy swamp tours, nature
trails, the Audubon Zoo, Jazzland, or the Aquarium of the Americas, there is
plenty to suit everyone’s fancy.
The community of Treme, which sits adjacent
to the French Quarter, is the nation’s
oldest black community. Congo Square, the current site of Armstrong Park, was
also the site of traditional African dance celebrations. Exploring the culture
and history of New Orleans is an introduction to cultural diversity. Throughout
the antebellum period almost all
Africans brought to North America were carried
through the port of New Orleans. The long presence of such large numbers of
Africans has left an indelible mark on the culture, people, and landscape.
Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson described this legacy in her essay entitled “People
of Color in Louisiana,” which is included in Sybil Kein’s Creole,
The History and Legacy of Louisiana’s Free People of Color (LSU Press,
“There is no State in the Union, hardly any spot of like size on the
globe, where the man of color has lived so intensely, made so much progress,
of such historical importance and yet about whom so comparatively little
is known. His history is like the Mardi Gras of the city of New Orleans,
and mysterious and wonderful but with a serious thought underlying it all.
May it be better known to the world someday.”
Music is a central part
of life in New Orleans. Everything is celebrated with a parade. Second Lines,
parades, and brass bands still march to the cadence
of African rhythms. The smorgasbord of music includes opera, blues, gospel,
jazz, rock, rhythm and blues, zydeco, Creole, and hip-hop. One must explore
the city’s history for a full appreciation of its musical contributions.
Hogan Jazz Archives at Tulane University preserves the nation’s
best collection for the study of New Orleans jazz. The Amistad Research
Tulane University specializes in African American and ethnic American history.
Its holdings include sheet music of nineteenth century Creole composers Basil
Barès, Eugene McCarty and Edmond Dédé, as well as the
papers of 21st century composers Roger Dickerson, Harold Swanson, Harold Batiste,
Sybil Kein, and Moses Hogan.
New Orleans is the birthplace of musical artists
Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino, Mahalia Jackson, Harold Batiste,
the Neville Family, Harry Connick
Jr., Moses Hogan, and the multitalented Marsallis family. The late Moses Hogan,
an internationally renowned pianist, conductor, arranger and editor of the
Oxford Book of Spirituals (Oxford University Press, 2002), contributed the
first comprehensive survey of the Negro spirituals, America’s first art.
of course, there is the food! French-, Spanish-, and African-influenced cooking,
seasoned with Native American, Creole or Cajun spices, provides a
rare delight. You’ll want to indulge in a bowl of gumbo and sample crawfish
or shrimp etouffee at one of the city’s many outstanding restaurants.
Try a po-boy (French bread sandwich) while listening to the city sounds. No
trip to New Orleans is complete without a visit to Café du Monde. There
you will enjoy a special brew of café au lait along with beignets, a
delicious pastry covered with powdered sugar. Don’t leave town without
a few boxes of New Orleans pralines, those teeth-achingly sweet and delicious
reminders of your Southern journey.
We look forward to welcoming you to New
Orleans—the Big Easy—where
our motto is Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez (Let the Good Times Roll)!
—Brenda Billips Square, CA
Director of Archives and Library, Amistad Research Center
2005 Host Committee
For additional information, see our "Getting
to New Orleans" travel information page or visit:
SAA Thanks the 2005 Host Committee for Its Hard Work and Good Advice!
Alfred Lemmon, Co-Chair
Leon C Miller, Co-Chair
Charles E Nolan