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Christopher Porche West papers

 Collection — Container: 1 U-Matic
Identifier: 386

Scope and Contents

The papers of California native and New Orleans-based photographer Christopher Porche West contain photographs, printed ephemera, correspondence, news clippings and other collected items that document West's interest in the history and culture of New Orleans' African American and Creole communities.

The strengths of the West papers are the numerous prints of photographs taken by West, as well as the collection of materials formed by him as part of his research on the history and culture of Creoles of Color in Louisiana and, specifically, in New Orleans. Many of the materials within the collection were gathered or created by West as part of his senior thesis project at the University of California-Santa Cruz, which was entitled "Creoles of Color: A Vanishing Louisiana Legacy." Correspondence and grant materials provide background to West's interest in the topic, as well as his efforts to expand the project to additional venues in Louisiana. Materials gathered by West include photographs of historical documents, images from archives and libraries, as well as printed ephemera from numerous social, religious, and educational organizations. Those represented in the collected materials include: the Autocrat Club, Knights of Peter Claver, Corpus Christi Church, Les Jeunes Amis, Original Illinois Club, Young Men's Illinois Club, Tamborine and Fan, Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, and others, as well as various Mardi Gras krewes and clubs. African American-owned business is represented with material documenting Moret Press, photographer Arthur P. Bedou, and New Orleans restaurants, such as Dooky Chase. Of note also is a U-Matic videotape of a broadcast by WYES in New Orleans entitled Proud Free Men, which focuses on the history of free people of color in the city.

West's photography within the collection focuses on the Mardi Gras Indian tradition in New Orleans and includes numerous images of individuals and parades. Additional photographs document Mardi Gras in general, debutant balls, churches, graves and memorials, funerals, buildings and businesses, as well as groups and individuals. Also present within the collection are a number of glass plate negatives, circa 1880s-1900, of unidentified individuals and scenes, presumably in New Orleans.


  • Created: 1880-1995
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1954-1983
  • Other: Date acquired: 01/01/1981


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright to these papers has not been assigned to the Amistad Research Center. It is the responsibility of an author to secure permission for publication from the holder of the copyright to any material contained in this collection.


8.95 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

Collection is arranged by format or subject, then chronologically.

Physical Access Requirements

Glass plate negatives in boxes 9-10 are extremely fragile, and in some cases, broken or damaged. Researchers will be instructed in handling of negatives or referred to digital surrogates.

Technical Access Requirements

Audiovisual materials stored offsite. Please contact Reference Desk of the Amistad Research Center for inquiries.

Source of Acquisition

Christopher West

Method of Acquisition


Accruals and Additions

Additions received in 1987 and circa 1995.

Related Materials

Additional collections related to Mardi Gras Indians include: Tom Dent papers, Maurice Martinez papers, and Guardians of the Flame collection. Additional collections related to African American history in Louisiana include: A.P. Tureaud papers, Gwendolyn Midlo Hall papers, Charles Rousseve papers, and the George Longe papers.

Related Publications

A Selective bibliography of books, articles, theses, dissertations, and phonodiscs pertaining to the New Orleans' black Créoles / Christopher West, compiler.

Processing Information

Collection processed January-February 2012.

Christopher Porche West papers
Sara Green and Christopher Harter
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Amistad Research Center Repository

6823 Saint Charles Avenue
Tilton Hall, Tulane University
New Orleans LA 70118 US
(504) 862-3222