Welcome to New Orleans!

Debbie Ann Doyle, October 2012

The 127th Annual Meeting marks the third time the American Historical Association will meet in New Orleans. Previously, the Association met in the city in 1972 and 1903. Clearly, much has changed in New Orleans since those meetings. The Local Arrangements Committee (LAC) is eager to introduce members to the history of their vibrant and distinctive city.

New Orleans conjures up images of jazz and Mardis Gras, of wonderful food and vibrant culture, but also, in the years since Hurricane Katrina, of disaster and despair as well as of resurgence and hope. In this issue, LAC members provide historic context to those images. Committee chair Craig E. Colten (Louisiana State University) offers a brief introduction to the urban geography of the city and the two 20th-century hurricanes that shaped its landscape. Mark Souther (Cleveland State University) describes the fraught history of tourism in a place often marketed as "The City that Care Forgot" in the face of racial disparity, economic change, and the often contested pleasures of tourists and locals. Future LAC articles will further explore the history of New Orleans and will also suggest restaurants, jazz clubs, places to explore with children, and other places of interest to historians visiting the city.

To help members get acquainted with the city beyond the meeting hotels, the committee has organized 14 bus and walking tours. Tours offer participants an opportunity to explore the city with their professional colleagues. Those intrigued by Colten's article will be interested in the preconference tour of the historical geography of New Orleans, led by Tulane University geographer Richard Campenella on Wednesday, January 2. Souther's article touches on many of the other tour topics, including historic preservation, African American history, and the history of jazz. Historians interested in delving deeper into city history can enjoy behind-the-scenes tours of several local archives.

The 2013 Program Committee received a record number of proposals for the meeting and has put together a diverse and exciting program. The committee organized a special strand of sessions entitled "New Orleans in the World"; these will examine the history of the city in a global context. Other featured sessions include "The Public Practice of History in and for a Digital Age" and a workshop exploring the range of career options for professional historians, "The Malleable PhD." A special Saturday plenary session will focus on the films of John Sayles, which will be screened throughout the meeting. The program of the meeting will be mailed to members in mid-October and will also become available online at the same time at historians.org. Keep an eye out also for the launch of our new meeting app!

The Local Arrangements Committee

  • Craig Colten
    (Louisiana State Univ.), co-chair
  • Andrew Goss
    (Univ. of New Orleans), co-chair
  • Laura Rosanne Adderley
    (Tulane Univ.)
  • Sal Anselmo
    (Delgado Community Coll.)
  • Mary Farmer-Kaiser
    (Univ. of Louisiana at Lafayette)
  • Nathan Huegen
    (National WWII Museum)
  • Ari Kelman
    (Univ. of California, Davis)
  • Karen Leathem
    (Louisiana State Museum)
  • Alfred E. Lemon
    (The Historic New Orleans Collection)
  • Alecia P. Long
    (Louisiana State Univ.)
  • Michael Mizell-Nelson
    (Univ. of New Orleans)
  • Leonard Moore
    (Univ. of Texas)
  • J. Mark Souther
    (Cleveland State Univ.)

Debbie Ann Doyle staffs the Local Arrangements Committee and the Program Committee.