City Archives
New Orleans Public Library

Records of the Public Schools and Libraries

The Mechanic's Institute, University Place, home to the Fisk Library Collection,
1855-1896. From Jewell's Crescent City Illustrated, 1873.

  • Board of Directors of the Public Schools (Lafayette).
  • Board of Directors of the Public Schools of the First Municipality.
  • Board of Directors for the Public Schools of the Second Municipality.
  • Board of Directors for the Public Schools of the First District.
    • Minutes of Board meetings, 1859-1862.
  • Lyceum and Library Society.

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II
HC300
1841-1847

Lafayette (Jefferson Parish, La.) Board of Directors of the Public School.

Minutes, 1841-1847.
1 v.

By ordinance of November 4, 1841, the Lafayette Council established a public school for the free education of all resident children whose parents were white. This ordinance further called for the annual election by the Council of three resident citizens to serve,along with the two-member Council Committee on Public Education, as a Board of Directors for the school.

The Board was to meet at least once each month and its secretary, who was also secretary to the Council, was to record the minutes of each meeting. The Board was responsible for the general management of the school; for the selection, appointment, and removal of teachers; for adopting rules for discipline; for the direction of "the system and course of education;" and for the internal organization of the school. At least once each quarter, the Board was to make a report to the Council of the progress of the school and of education in the city.

In 1845, the state legislature provided for the Lafayette schools to be managed by a ten-member Board of Administrators to be annually appointed by the Mayor and Council. The Mayor served ex-officio as president of this body.

The minutes are recorded in a single manuscript volume. The original 1841 ordinance appears at the beginning of this record. The volume begins with the meeting of November 18, 1841 and continues through the session of May 7, 1847. Despite a reference at the end of the book to a continuation, this is the only volume of minutes to survive in the City Archives Collection.

Available as part of on roll of 35mm microfilm, filed under the call number noted above.

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HC300
1841-1847
1st Mun

New Orleans (La.) Board of Directors of the Public Schools of the First Municipality.

Minutes, 1841-1847.
1 v.

By ordinance of June 7, 1841 the First Municipality Council established three schools for the education of the children of the municipality. One school provided for the children of white parents resident in the 1st and 2nd wards, one for those in the 3rd and 4th wards, and one for those in the 5th ward. The course of education was to include "the elements of the English and French languages."

The Council each year was to elect one of its own members from each of the five wards, along with a resident citizen from each ward, to serve together as the Board of Directors for the Public Schools in the municipality. The Board was to meet at least once each month. It was responsible for the general management of the schools, the selection and removal of teachers, the superintendence of the conduct of teachers and students, the direction "of the course and system of education to be adopted," and for setting forth rules for the internal organization and discipline of the schools. The Board was to report at least once a month to the Council, and their reports were to be published along with the proceedings of the Council. In November of each year the Board was to furnish the Council with estimates of the amounts needed for the support of the schools.

A new ordinance, passed on October 3, 1847, repealed all existing laws and placed the schools under the control of the Council's Committee on Public education, which served along with the Mayor, Recorder, and five citizens (appointed by the Mayor, one from each ward) as the Board of Directors of Public Schools for the municipality. This "new" Board was empowered to create additional schools (funding permitting), to prescribe the duties of the teachers and other employees, to make all rules for the admission of students, to prescribe the course of study and discipline, and, in general, to provide for and direct the government of the public school system. The ordinance further specified that the course of study "...shall comprise the english and french [sic] language (reading, writing, arithmetic, and grammar) together with such other studies as the Committee may find proper and practicable." Other duties and responsibilities of the Board were detailed by this and subsequent ordinances.

The manuscript minute book is in French and covers the period July 3, 1841 through April 24, 1847. No additional records of the First Municipality schools have survived in the City Archives Collection.

Available as part of one roll of 35mm microfilm, filed under call number II HC300 1841-1847.

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HC205
1849-1851
2nd Mun

New Orleans (La.) Board of Directors for the Public Schools of the Second Municipality.

Reports of the Committee on the Second Ward School, 1849-1851.
1 v.

The 1841 ordinance establishing the public schools in the Second Municipality provided for the annual election by the Municipality Council of four citizens from each ward to serve with the members of the Council's Committee on Public Education as a Board of Directors for the Public Schools of the municipality. The Board was to divide itself into committees for the constant and personal superintendence of the schools within its jurisdiction. The Committee on the Second Ward School appears to be one of those committees.

The Board as a whole was to adopt rules and regulations for the governance of the schools and was to meet monthly in the council chamber. The secretary of the Council was also to serve as secretary to the Board, and was to keep the proceedings of Board meetings in a minute book for that purpose. Other duties of the Board included: to manage the schools, to select & remove teachers, to superintend both teachers & students, to direct the system & course of education to be followed, and to prescribe rules for the discipline & internal organizations of the schools. The Board was also to report at least quarterly to the Council on the condition of the schools and annually to present to the Council an estimate of the expenses for the following school year.

In 1842 the ordinance was amended to make the Recorder a member of the Board and in 1843 the Mayor also became a member ex-officio. In 1847 the structure of the Board was again changed, with the Council annually to elect sixteen citizens to serve with the Committee on Public Education as the Board of Directors.

The record book is a manuscript volume containing monthly reports of the Committee on the Second Ward School to the Board. It is most likely the volume used by the Committee to record its copy of each report.

Available as part of one roll of 35mm microfilm, filed under call number II HC300 1841-1847.

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HC205L
1845-1850
2nd Mun

New Orleans (La.) Board of Directors of Public Schools for the Second Municipality.

Reports of the Library Committee, 1845-1850.
1 v.

By ordinance of March 23, 1841 the Second Municipality Council established a system of public schools for the municipality. Each year the Council was to elect four citizens from each ward who served, along with the members of the Council's standing committee on Public Education, as a Board of Directors for the public schools in the municipality.

On December 3, 1844, again by ordinance, the Council established a Lyceum and Library for the scholars of the municipality's public schools. That ordinance also provided that the Board of Directors of the schools would also serve as the Board of Directors of the Lyceum and Library. It appears from the record book, however, that the Lyceum and Library actually was the responsibility of a committee of the full Board.

The record book is a manuscript volume of reports made by the Library Committee to the Board of Directors. Each report details various aspects relative to the management of the Lyceum and Library, and is signed by the committee members. The volume covers the period from December, 1845 through June, 1850.

Available as item 1 of 35mm microfilm roll #89-355, filed under the call number noted above.

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HC300
1859-1862

New Orleans (La.) Board of Directors for the Public Schools of the First District.

Minutes of Board meetings, 1859-1862.
1 v.

The Common Council in 1852 passed an ordinance providing for the annual election of a separate board of directors for the public schools of each municipal district. The Board for the First District was to include 21 members.

In 1856 another ordinance included a provision requiring each of the district boards to make quarterly reports and an annual report to the Council (the ordinance specified the subjects to be addressed in these reports). It further provided that the presidents of the district boards meet to determine standardized reporting procedures. The presidents were also required to provide for the publication, in pamphlet form, of the annual report of the public schools.

The ordinances were designed to implement the provisions of state law relative to public schools in the city. The 1855 law provided that individual boards have exclusive management of the schools in its district. Each board was to elect a superintendent and as many principals as was necessary to staff its schools.

The manuscript minute book begins with the meeting of October 10, 1859, and ends with that of January 28, 1862. Minutes of a Finance Committee meeting, dated May 7, 1862, appear at the rear of the volume.

Available as part of one roll of 35mm microfilm, filed under call number II HC300 1841-1847.

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HQL

New Orleans (La.) Lyceum and Library Society.

Records, 1854-1870
8 v.

The Society had its origins in the 1844 ordinance passed by the Second Municipality Council, "Providing for the establishment of a Lyceum and Library by the Scholars of the Public Schools of Municipality No. Two." That law created a "Lyceum and Library" whose cost was to be defrayed by voluntary contributions of the students (not to exceed twenty-five cents per month or $3.00 annually). Upon making a total contribution of $9.00 the student became a life member of the Society. Other individuals could become subscribers to the library at terms set by the board of directors, which was identical to the directors of the public schools in the municipality. Certain public officials were ex-officio members and public school teachers were honorary members.

Once $5,000 was collected and paid into the Treasury the Municipality would provide rooms for the library, and when $15,000 had been paid in, a lot and building would be make available to the institution. In addition to payments by the students, donations were also accepted from interested individuals.

The library opened on March 10, 1846 with 3,400 books in its collection; by 1858 it held over 10,000 volumes. Originally located in temporary quarters, the Lyceum Library moved into the new municipality hall (now Gallier Hall) when its rooms in that building were ready for occupancy.

Following consolidation of the city in 1852 the library apparently continued operating in what by then was the City Hall. It was known as the Lyceum and Library Society, First District. Similar facilities were to be established in the other three municipal districts, but none of the others appears to have developed to the extent of the First District's. In 1859, ordinance #4439 gave the Society's directors the power to open up membership to all white youths in the city and to such other contributors as they saw fit to include. The directors could also issue honorary memberships as they deemed appropriate.

During the Civil War occupation, probably in 1863, ordinance #6140 provided for the consolidation of the district libraries into a single institution located in City Hall and known as the "public library of the city of New Orleans." The books of the First District Lyceum apparently formed the core of the new collection, and the name "Lyceum and Library Society" remained in popular use. The 1863 ordinance, along with #1276 in 1869 (which provided that the Lyceum's directors would be appointed by the Mayor), signalled an evident end to the library's association with the public schools.

The Lyceum and Library Society continued to function as a separate entity until 1896 when the city merged it with the Fisk Library to form the New Orleans Public Library.

The collection includes manuscript records and published catalogs, described in the inventory below. Most are from the library of the First District, which became the consolidated collection, but one volume has survived from the library of the Second District as well.

Inventory

HQL160
1870

Inventory of books, 1870. [not filmed; post-1861]

Manuscript volume listing number, title, author, publisher, date, edition,etc. for each book in the collection. Also included for each title is a reference to the number of copies held and, in some cases, what appear to be prices and/or notes relating to loans.

[mf roll #90-131]
HQL420
1854-1867

Record of loans, 1854-1867.

Manuscript volumes listing books borrowed by members of the Society.
v. 1 1854-1858--record of loans to directors of the Society, to teachers, and the life members. For each person the titles borrowed are listed along with the date of issue, location, "registry number," date returned, fines, and other remarks. Each borrower is identified by the class of membership held. Most of those listed in this volume are life members. They are grouped together at the front of the book with teachers and directors at the rear.

v. 2 1858-1863--records names of borrowers and their schools (for students), books borrowed, date of issue, location, number of volumes, date returned, and remarks. At the rear of this book are records for other types of borrowers, including subscribers. Among the latter are such figures as Thomas Wharton Collens, J. Adolphe Rozier, Thomas Gaillard Hunt, and Charles Gayarre. Several soldiers are listed during the year 1862 as well.

v. 3 1863-1867--generally similar to the other volumes. [not filmed; post-1861].

HQL430
1872-1881

Register of members, 1872-1881. [not filmed; post-1861]

At the front of the volume is an index of life members with reference to the page numbers where their individual records were kept. The addresses of some members are given in the index entries. The record proper includes one page for each member. Some pages have notes attached; most have only what appear to be the remnants of notes that had been removed from the adhesive holding them onto the pages. Some of the surviving notes are call slips, possibly identifying books that were not returned. The other notes are mostly statements supporting an individual's right to be enrolled as a life member or permissions for others to borrow materials in the member's name. Other than these notes no other information is provided about the members, except in the case of women, some of whom are identified by both married and maiden names. This volume is in very poor condition, apparently having been damaged by water as well as by the adhesiveused to hold notes onto the pages. It also appears that these notes were regularly removed and replaced so that some records have heavy buildups of adhesive and note fragments attached to their pages.

[mf roll #90-132]
HQL750
1854

Catalogue of French works in the Public School Library of the Second District, 1854.

Manuscript catalog in three parts: alphabetically by title, by category, and alphabetically by author. Information recorded includes title, size, number of volumes, and location. Full bibliographic entries were not used, a typical listing is: Manuel de philosophie ancienne par Rensavier- Paris, 1844, Paulin. Among the subject categories under which titles are grouped in section two are: #1, beaux arts; #2, economie rurale; and #14, theologie. A note in the front of the volume states that as of July 2,1856 the library contained 2,179 works in French and another 1,637 in English.

HQL750
1858

Catalogue of the library of the Lyceum and Library Society, First District, City of New Orleans. New Orleans, 1858. 124 p.

Published listing of books in the collection, arranged by general subject (e.g., art, foreign works, science, etc.) and giving location of each. The volume's "explanation" notes that, "As the catalogue is designed simply for the use of the subscribers of the Library, it was not necessary to mention the edition, the number of pages, or the size of the volumes." Nor do the listings give complete author identifications, but rather rely on such descriptions as "Scott's works," with a tabulation of Sir Walter's titles thereunder. In addition to the listings the volume also includes a preface and a brief index.

HQL750
1858j

Catalogue of the juvenile library of the Lyceum and Library Society, First District, City of New Orleans. New Orleans, 1858. 22 p.

A simple listing of books, again with less than full bibliographic descriptions, and including location symbols, etc.

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