New Orleans and the History of the American South, June 16–22, 2019


Pamela Tyler, Associate Professor of History (retired), University of Southern Mississippi


“Land of dreamy dreams,” “the city that care forgot,” New Orleans has just celebrated her tricentennial (1718-2018). Three hundred years translates into a lot of history!  In five days, this seminar will offer a chronological overview of the multicultural development of this far-from-typical American city.

Day 1 will focus on the arrival of the French, then the Spanish, and ultimately the purchase of Louisiana by the United States and statehood for Louisiana. Day 2 brings examination of the institution of slavery, as practiced both in the city and on surrounding sugar plantations, plus the experiences of the city’s large population of free people of color. We also view events in the city during the American Civil War. Day 3 examines the turbulent years after the Civil War, when African Americans struggled to exercise the rights awarded them by constitutional amendments and southern whites resisted with what amounted to a counter-revolution. This seminar also take a look at the late 19th-century phenomena of sex and sickness in the Crescent City---namely, Storyville and yellow fever. Day 4 we will turn to culture and concentrate on food, music, architecture, and Mardi Gras, the very hallmarks of our New Orleans identity. Day 5 brings us to recent times. We will examine the city’s precarious geography and its experiences with hurricanes and flooding, with a detailed unpacking of the 2005 Katrina trauma and the city’s near-miraculous recovery as engineered by its dedicated men and women. On each day, this seminar will devote a slice of time to a quick comparison of how life was proceeding in the rest of the South beyond New Orleans in order to highlight the sheer distinctiveness of this southern city.

Travel & Accommodations

Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements; the Institute will reimburse up to $400 in travel expenses. Read the policy here.

The Historic New Orleans Collection is located in New Orleans, Louisiana, approximately 15 miles from Louis Armstrong International Airport, and is easily reached by taxi, car, or shuttle.

Workshop participants will stay in a nearby hotel and will share rooms. Participants should bring laptops.


Meals will be served in a space shared by other programs. All on-site meals will be paid for by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.


Please be sure to review the Institute’s policies on independent school teacher participation and travel reimbursement before applying.


Email the Teacher Seminars department or call 646-366-9666.

Seminar Year: 2018-2019