Mayor Martin Behrman

City Archives
New Orleans Public Library

Date range: 1904-1929; 1925-1926
Size of collection: 6 cartons
Terms of Access: Available to registered researchers by appointment

Historical Note

Martin Behrman was Mayor of New Orleans for nearly 17 years, longer than any other mayor in the city's history, serving four consecutive terms (1904-1920) before his defeat by reform candidate Andrew McShane. He was re-elected in 1925, but died 9 months into his fifth term.

Behrman was born in New York City but came with his parents to New Orleans as an infant. Orphaned early, he worked as a clerk and sales representative for several produce and grocery firms before entering politics as a ward worker for the Regular Democratic Organization during the 1888 gubernatorial campaign of Francis T. Nichols. Prior to his election as Mayor, he held minor elective and appointive offices (including President of the Board of Assessors and State Auditor) and rose to power as leader of the city's 15th ward (Algiers, where he lived for most of his life).

Behrman's machine administration was responsible for considerable improvements in city services and facilities (including sewer and water systems, drainage, streets, the port, and public schools and public health facilities). It was during Behrman's tenure that the Public Belt Railroad was developed, the 1912 City Charter changed the city council to the commission form, and Storyville closed.

Arrangement and Scope

The records are 6 cartons, primarily correspondence, arranged in two series of 3 cartons each, the first covering Behrman's first four terms (1904-1920) and the second, his brief final term (May 1925-January 1926).

As in all of the pre-1936 Mayor's papers, the Behrman papers have been reconstructed from fragments previously unprocessed or dispersed in subject files kept in the Official Vertical File. The records are arranged alphabetically by name of corporate or individual correspondent. Correspondence marked with clear filing notes is filed according to the subject designated in the note and arranged chronologically therein.

Relatively few records have survived from the 16 years of Behrman's first tenure; those extant consist mainly of in-coming correspondence from city, parish, or state agencies, neighborhood civic groups, public officials, and private citizens. Among the agencies represented most fully are the City Engineer and the Public Belt Railroad Commission. Included in the file for the New Orleans Board of Health is material concerning the 1905 yellow fever epidemic (the last major epidemic to occur in New Orleans) and its aftermath; additional letters from individuals offering assistance or donations during the epidemic are filed by name of correspondent or in the file "Citizens' Yellow Fever Committee." Correspondence from the New Orleans Progressive Union (a forerunner of the Chamber of Commerce) forms another substantial file. Individual correspondents include President Theodore Roosevelt, Governor Newton C. Blanchard, Senators Samuel McEnery and Murphy J. Foster, Eleanor McMain, Rudolph Matas (in "M" Miscellaneous folder), Isidore Newman (in "N" Miscellaneous), Kate Gordon (in "National American Woman Suffrage Association"), and Sophie B. Wright.

The records in the second series, covering Behrman's final term, are more substantial than those in the first series, although they too are fragmentary. Among the agencies covered most fully are the City Attorney, the Isaac Delgado Central Trades School, the Louisiana Highway Commission, and the Board of Commissioners of the Orleans Levee District. Substantial files also exist for the New Orleans Association of Commerce and the International Trade Exposition. Individual correspondents include Governor Henry L. Fuqua, Senator Joseph E. Ransdell, Governor Alfred E. Smith of New York, Dr. Rudolph Matas, Edgar B. Stern (in "L" Miscellaneous), several Louisiana congressmen, and the mayors of a number of American cities.

Detailed Description of the Records

Series I (1904-1920)

Carton 1

"A" Miscellaneous
Annunciation Park Commission
Audubon Park Commission

"B" Miscellaneous
Barry, Bryan T. [Mayor, Dallas, Texas]
Battleship Louisiana Silver Service Committee
Beauregard Square Commission
Blanchard, Governor Newton C.
Blenk, Archbishop James H.
Board of Assessors
Board of Liquidation, City Dept
Brennan, James A.

"C" Miscellaneous
Caffin Avenue Commission
Carondelet Canal and Navigation Company
Carrollton Avenue, Board of Commissioners of
Central Trades and Labor Council
Chappell, L.H. [Mayor, Columbus, Georgia]
Charity Hospital Diamond Jubilee and Festival
Charity Organization Society
Citizens' Volunteer Ward Organization
Citizens' Yellow Fever Fund Committee
City Attorney
City Council
City Electrician
City Engineer
City Notary
City Park Avenue and Vicinity Improvement Association
City Park Improvement Association
Civil Sheriff
Claiborne Circle Commission
Clark Place, Board of Commissioners of
Clay Square Commission
Cleveland Park Commission
Coliseum Park Commission
Colored Industrial Home and School
Comptroller's Office
Contractors and Dealers Exchange
Cotton Factors Committee
Courthouse Commission
Cumberland Telephone and Telegraph Company

"D" Miscellaneous
Daily States
Davey, Congressman Robert C.
Democratic Party of Louisiana
Democratic State Central Committee of Louisiana
Denegre and Blair
Desaix Park Commission
Dupre, Congressman H. Garland
Dymond, John, Jr.

"E" Miscellaneous
Esplanade Avenue, Board of Commissioners of

"F" Miscellaneous
Fire Department
First City Court
Fortier, Alcee
Foster, Senator Murphy J.
Franklin Avenue Improvement Association
Frenchmen Street Commission

"G" Miscellaneous
Gentilly Avenue Commissioners

"H" Miscellaneous

"I" Miscellaneous
Interstate Inland Waterway
Isaac Delgado Museum of Art

"J" Miscellaneous
Jackson Avenue Commission
Jefferson Davis Parkway Commission
Johnson, Warren
Juvenile Court

Carton 2

"K" Miscellaneous
Kreisman, Frederick H. [Mayor, St. Louis, Missouri]

"L" Miscellaneous
Lakeview Improvement Association
Lawler, H.T., and Sons
Lee Circle Commission
Louisiana Board of State Engineers
Louisiana Historical Society
Louisiana National Guard
Louisiana Railroad Commission
Louisiana State Board of Health
Louisiana State Insane Asylum
Louisiana State Museum
Louisiana State Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Louisiana Sugar and Rice Exchange
Louisiana Tax Commission

"M" Miscellaneou
Macarthy Square Commission
McEnery, Senator Samuel Douglas
McMain, Eleanor
Meyer, Congressman Adolph
Mithouard, A. [President, Municipal Council of Paris, France]
Murray Square Commission

"N" Miscellaneous
Napoleon Avenue, Board of Commissioners of
National American Woman Suffrage Association
Neron Place Commissioners
New Orleans Board of Health
New Orleans Board of Trade
New Orleans Conventions and Tourist Bureau
New Orleans Cotton Exchange
New Orleans Item
New Orleans Progressive Union
New Orleans Public Library
New Orleans Railway and Light Company
New Orleans Water Works Company
Ninth Ward Improvement and Protective Association

"O" Miscellaneous
Octavia Street Commission
Orleans Levee District, Board of Commissioners of

"P" Miscellaneous
Parking Commission
Philharmonic Society of New Orleans
Poland Avenue Commission
Police and Public Buildings, Department of
Police Department
Port of New Orleans, Board of Commissioners of
Prisons and Asylums, Board of Commissioners of
Public Belt Railroad Commission
Public Playgrounds, Board of Commissioners of
Public Schools
Public Works, Department of

"Q" Miscellaneous

"R" Miscellaneous
Rainold, Frank E.
Recorder's Courts
Rex [Carnival Organization]
Roosevelt, Theodore

"S" Miscellaneous
St. Bernard Avenue Improvement Association
St. Charles Avenue Commission
St. Charles Hotel
St. Claude Avenue, Board of Commissioners of
St. Roch Park, Board of Commissioners of
Salvation Army
Samuel Square Commission
Schmitz, E.E. [Mayor, San Francisco, California]
Sewerage and Water Board
State National Bank of New Orleans
State Street Commission

"T" Miscellaneous
Thornton, Senator J.R.
Travelers Protective Association
Treasurer's Office
Tulane University

"U" Miscellaneous
United Confederate Veterans
United States Customs Service
United States Department of Commerce and Labor
United States Department of State
United States House of Representatives
United States Navy
United States Public Health and Marine Hospital Service
United States Treasury Department
Upper South Claiborne Avenue Commission
Ursulines Avenue Commission

"V" Miscellaneous

"W" Miscellaneous
Washington Square Commission
Webster Street Commission
World's Panama Exposition Company [New Orleans]
Wright, Sophie B.

"X,Y,Z" Miscellaneous
Zacharie Park Commission

Series II (1925-1926)

Carton 1

"A" Miscellaneous
American Bank and Trust Company
American Legion
Aswell, Congressman James B.
Audubon Park Commission

"B" Miscellaneous
Baldwin, L.W.
Brown, A. Tenn Eyck

"C" Miscellaneous
Carrollton Section Independent Civic Association
Central Louisiana State Hospital
Charity Hospital
Charity Organization Society
City Architect
City Attorney
City Council
City Electrician
City Engineer
City Hospital for Mental Diseases
City Park Improvement Association
City Planning and Zoning Commission
Civil District Court
Claiborne, Charles F.
Community Chest
Coolidge, President Calvin [Copy of telegram from Behrman]
Coroner's Office

"D" Miscellaneous
Daily States
Davey, John C.
Dymond, John, Jr.

"E" Miscellaneous

"F" Miscellaneous
Feitel, M.
Fire Department
Fourteenth Ward Civic League
Fourth and Fifth Wards Civic Improvement Association
Funeral Documents
Fuqua, Governor Henry L.

"G" Miscellaneous
Garver, C.M. [Mayor, Des Moines, Iowa]
Gentilly Garden and Terrace Improvement Association
La Guepe de la Nouvelle Orleans

"H" Miscellaneous

"I" Miscellaneous
Illinois Central Railroad Co.
International Association of Machinists, Crescent City Lodge #37
International Trade Exhibition
Isaac Delgado Central Trade School

"J" Miscellaneous
Juvenile Court

"K" Miscellaneous
Kells, Dr. C. Edmund
Kendrick, W. Freeland [Mayor, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]

Carton 2

"L" Miscellaneous
Louisiana Department of Conservation
Louisiana Department of Labor
Louisiana Highway Commission
Louisiana Library Commission
Louisiana Public Service Commission
Louisiana State Board of Health
Louisiana State Fire Marshall
Louisiana State Museum

"M" Miscellaneous
Manufacturers Record
Marine Bank and Trust Company
Matas, Dr. Rudolph
Meyer Brothers Drug Company [St. Louis, Missouri]
Miller, Victor J. [Mayor, St. Louis, Missouri]
Motor League of Louisiana

"N" Miscellaneous
New Orleans Association of Commerce
New Orleans Board of Health
New Orleans Convention and Publicity Bureau
New Orleans Federation of Clubs
New Orleans Industrial Canal Land and Harbor Development Company
New Orleans Permanent International Trade Exhibition
New Orleans Public Library
Night Recorder's Court
Ninth Ward Civic Association

"O" Miscellaneous
O'Connor, Congressman James
Orleans Levee District, Board of Commissioners

"P" Miscellaneous
Parking Commission of New Orleans
Playground Community Service Commission

Carton 3

Police Department
Port of New Orleans, Board of Commissioners
Public Belt Railroad Commission
Public Buildings, Division of
Public Finance, Department of
Public Property, Department of
Public Safety, Department of
Public Schools
Public Utilities, Department of

"Q" Miscellaneous

"R" Miscellaneous
Ransdell, Senator Joseph E.
Roosevelt, Franklin D. [Copy of letter from Behrman]

"S" Miscellaneous
Safe River Committee of 100
St. Bernard Parish Police Jury
Sewerage and Water Board
Smith, Governor Alfred E. [New York]
Spearing, Congressman J. Zach
Speeches, Statements, etc.
State Tax Collector for the City of New Orleans
Streckfus, Roy
Sullivan, W.H. [Mayor, Bogalusa, Louisiana]

"T" Miscellaneous
Thomas, L.E. [Mayor, Shreveport, Louisiana]
Tobin, John W. [Mayor, San Antonio, Texas]
Todd, William H.

"U" Miscellaneous
United States Bureau of the Budget
United States Customs Service
United States Department of Justice
United States Department of Labor
United States Navy
United States Post Office
United States Veterans Bureau

"V" Miscellaneous

"W" Miscellaneous
Weinberger, Charles
Wilson, Congressman Riley J.

"X,Y,Z" Miscellaneous

Young Men's Business Club

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coded: 1/15/1999
coded by: Irene Wainwright

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