New Orleans (La.) Department of Police and Public Buildings
In-coming Correspondence

City Archives
New Orleans Public Library


Date range: 1882-1910 [bulk 1900-1903]
Size of collection: 4 cartons; 2 cu. ft.
Terms of access: Available to registered researchers by appointment


Historical Note

The 1882 City Charter established an executive branch of municipal government consisting of the Mayor, the City Comptroller, City Treasurer, Commissioner of Public Works, and Commissioner of Police and Public Buildings. This structure remained in effect until the adoption of the 1912 City Charter.

The Commissioner of Police and Public Buildings was in charge of Houses of Refuge and Corrections, pounds, and cemeteries and lighting of the city and "such other functions and duties as may be prescribed by the Council." He also had general superintendence of the school houses, markets, slaughterhouses, prisons, police stations, jails, work-house, asylums, hospitals and all courts and public buildings except the City Hall (which fell under the control of the Mayor and executive officers).

The Commissioner was required to submit a monthly report to the mayor of "the full details and workings of his department." Along with the Comptroller, Treasurer, and Commissioner of Public Works, the Commissioner of Police and Public Buildings was entitled to a seat on floor of Council during sessions and enjoyed the right to debate and discuss all matters having reference to their respective departments; however, they had no right to vote or otherwise participate in the proceedings of the Council.

The men who served as Commissioner of Police and Public Buildings were:

C. Taylor Gauche (1892-1896)
John W. Murphy (1896-1900)
Frank E. Bishop (1900-1904)
Alex Pujol (1904-1912)


Scope Note:

The records consist of incoming correspondence to the Department of Police and Public Buildings (addressed primarily to Commissioner Frank E. Bishop) or correspondence addressed to the Mayor and forwarded to the Department. The correspondence is clearly fragmentary. Much of the correspondence is from city officials or employees under the supervision of the Commissioner; correspondence from New Orleans citizens seeking assistance or voicing complaints and from others doing business with the city are also typical.

The records also include various reports and requests from city officials or employees under the supervision of the Commissioner, bills submitted by tradespeople for services or goods provided to the city, bids submitted for work on city buildings, requisitions, etc.

For the most part the records reflect the ordinary, day-to-day operations of the Department. Some items, however, are of particular interest and are noted in the inventory below.

The City Archives also holds 29 letterpress volumes of outgoing correspondence of the Department of Police and Public Buildings (1883-1914). For further information on these records, consult the City Archives card catalog or one of the archivists.


Arrangement:

The records were transferred to the Archives in individual wooden file boxes. Each of the boxes included a label pasted on the box cover which appears to describe the contents of the file box but in actuality does not accurately or completely describe the records found in the files. We have, however, retained the original file box arrangement and included in the inventory a transcription of the label found in each box. Within each box, the items are arranged chronologically.


Inventory of the Records

Box 1

"File 170-1 1910
Frank E. Bishop, Commissioner of Police and Public Buildings
Letters relative to request for materials and supplies
Reports on grass cutting
Complaints on various public buildings
Complaints on street conditions"

Undated
1888 (part)
1890 (part)
1891 (part)
1894 (Jan.-Jul.)

--Letter to Mayor Fitzpatrick from inmate of Shakspeare Alms House complaining about the superintendent of the home (July 19)
1894 (Aug.-Dec.)
--This folder includes correspondence relating to riots on the New Orleans waterfront involving white and African-American dock workers, specifically requests from a representatives of shipping lines for police protection for African-American laborers unloading their ships, complaints about lack of protection, or thanks for protection provided.
1895 (Jan.-Jul.)
--Additional correspondence regarding waterfront unrest.
--Correspondence from President of Tulane University regarding transfer of the Fisk Library from Tulane University to the City of New Orleans.
1896 (May)
1897 (Nov.)
1898 (Jun.)
1900 (May-Sept.)
--Letter from D.P. Mahoney reporting the murder of one of his keepers "by that Blood thirsty Negro Robt. Charles or his associates." (July 27)
1902 (Apr.-May)
1908 (Feb.-Mar.)
1910 (n.d., Nov.)

"File-115 1901-1902
Frank E. Bishop, D. Police
Letters relative to City Elections"
[Note: There is no correspondence "relative to city elections"]

Undated
1894 (Nov.-Dec.)
1900 (May-Jun., Sept., Dec.)
1901 (Jan.-Feb.)
1901 (Mar.-Apr.)
1901 (May-Jun.)
1901 (Jul.-Aug.)
1901 (Sept.)
1901 (Oct.)
1901 (Nov.)
1901 (Dec.)

Box 2

1902 (Jan.)
1902 (Feb.)
1902 (Mar.-Jun.)

"File 112 -- 1903 to 1904
Frank C. Bishop, Com.
Gen. Corresp., Police and Public Bldngs
Applications for positions
Complaints from Public Markets
Bids for Repairs on Pub. Bldngs."

Undated
1903 (Feb.)
1903 (Aug.)
1903 (Oct.)
1903 (Nov.)
1903 (Dec.)
1904 (Jan.)

--Letter from Mayor Capedeville's secretary forwarding a letter to the mayor from Jean M. Gordon in which she complains of conditions existing at the dock of Criminal District Court, where black and white prisoners of both sexes appeared jointly. (Jan. 11)
1904 (Feb.)
1904 (Mar.)
1904 (Apr.)

"1900
Frank E. Bishop, Com.
Police & Public Buildings
Letters from all departments of the city and from private citizens
Letters of special interest
Reports on material furnished on various jobs"

Undated
1900 (Jul.)
1900 (Aug.)
1900 (Sept.)
1900 (Oct.)

--Letter to the Board of Police Commissioners from C.A. Pincon regarding his dismissal from the police force on charge of cowardice in connection with the Robert Charles incident. (Oct. 15)
--Letter to Bishop from Dr. D. Fairfax asking for "several dogs for purpose of experiment" from the city pound. (Oct. 15)
1900 (Nov.)
--Letter to Bishop from City Engineer W.J. Hardie regarding dispute over transfer of the Henry Clay statue from Canal Street to Lafayette Square (Nov. 27)
1900 (Dec.)
1901 (Jan.)

Box 3

"File 109 -- 1902
Frank C. Bishop, Com. Police & Public Buildings
Gen. Corresp. of Frank C. Bishop relative to P & PB's,
employees and other city official residents and non-residents,
maintenance of buildings, housing, city departments & various other official
business"

Undated
1900 (part)
1901 (part)
1902 (Jan.)
1902 (Feb.)
1902 (Mar.)
1902 (Apr.)
1902 (May)
1902 (Jun.)
1902 (Aug.)
1902 (Sept.)
1902 (Oct.)

"File 120 -- 1902 to 1903
Frank C. Bishop, Police and Public Com.
Corresp. relative to repairs on Public Bldngs.
Complaints on Electric Lights
Applications for Positions & Transfers, Orders for Supplies"

Undated
1900 (part)
1901 (part)
1902 (Jan.)
1902 (Feb.)
1902 (Mar.)
1902 (Apr.)

--Invitation from Rooters Club to opening of baseball season at Athletic Park (E.A. Bishop was "Chief Rooter" of the Rooters Club (Apr. 24 & 25). Also included in this folder are numerous responses, many from public figures, accepting or declining the invitation.
1902 (May)
1902 (Jun.)
1902 (Aug.)
1902 (Sept.)
1902 (Oct.)
1902 (Nov.)
1902 (Dec.)

Box 4

1903 (Jan.)
1903 (Feb.)

--Letter from Criminal Sheriff Terrence Reilley to Bishop asking to have scaffold built to hang George Thompson on March 13, 1903 (Feb. 25)
1903 (Mar.)
1903 (Apr.)
1903 (May)

"File 111
Frank E. Bishop, Com.
Gen. Correspondence, relative to Reports on Tests of city arc lights
Meetings of Board of Police Com. & Repairs to Public Bldngs."

Undated
1902 (Feb.)
1902 (Mar.)
1902 (Sept.)
1902 (Dec.)
1903 (Jan.)
1903 (Feb.)
1903 (Mar.)
1903 (Apr.)
1903 (May)
1903 (Jun.)

--Letter appointing Bishop Vice-President of a committee arranging ceremonies to mark the beginning of active construction of sewerage system for the city. (June 22)
1903 (Jul.)
1903 (Aug.)
1903 (Sept.)
1903 (Oct.)


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11/6/2000 -- iw
rev. 12/16/2011 -- iw


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