Several books related to the history of Natchitoches and Northwestern State University have been digitized and are available through the Traditions page on the NSU website. Traditions can be accessed at nsutraditions.com. The website is also linked to the university’s main webpage and can be accessed by scrolling to the bottom of nsula.edu.
New entries include additions to the Digital Archives where past issues of Potpourri, the university yearbook; the Current Sauce, NSU’s student newspaper; Argus, the campus literary magazine, and several books published by the NSU Press are available.
Among the new books are the journals of François Mignon, a New York-born man of letters who lived at Melrose Plantation from 1939-1970 and was a curator of the buildings, furnishings and gardens there. Mignon is credited with promoting the work of folk artist Clementine Hunter and his journals, which include correspondence, photographs, news clippings and other ephemera, reveal much about the workings of the cotton and pecan plantation of those years, as well as the artists and writers who lived and worked there under the hospitality of Cammie Henry.
“François Mignon’s Journal begins on October 26, 1939, when he departs Penn Station in New York City for Shreveport, and he continued to keep it every day except Saturdays for the next 30 years. Volumes for 1942 and 1943 were not located. The entries resume in 1944,” said Tommy Whitehead, director of the digitization project.
“The Journal ends in February 1970 following a series of events, including the death of J. H. Henry, Melrose Plantation’s owner, and subsequent sale of the plantation. Prior to these events, Mignon had suffered a stroke that temporarily paralyzed his left side. He never fully regained the use of his left hand, which made it difficult to continue using the typewriter. There are about 15,000 pages scanned in the file. The entries are organized by years in a searchable PDF format,” Whitehead said.
The original Journal pages are housed at the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, according to Whitehead.
“Many folks at Northwestern worked on this project with special thanks to the NSU Foundation and Archivists Mary Linn Wernet and Sharon Wolff at the Cammie G. Henry Research Center housed in NSU’s Watson Library.
NSU also added a digital copy of “Cane River Country” to the digital archives. The book was first published by the NSU Press in 1979 with Carol Wells as history and copy editor, Ezra Adams, designer, and Don Sepulvado, photography consultant. The book is a collection of letters, maps, photographs and other documents that chart the development of the city of Natchitoches and the surrounding Cane River Country from its earliest days as a provincial frontier post.
“The 1979 publication by the NSU Press is out of print with few copies around. With the generous support of the NSU Foundation and folks on campus, we are adding Cane River Country to the NSU Digital Archives today. It is in a Searchable PDF format,” Whitehead said.
This past May, an NSU graduate brought a copy of “Cane River Scrapbook” to the 50-year reunion and donated it to the university.
“First published in 1936-37, no one around was aware there was such a publication,” Whitehead said.
Sonny Carter, digital imaging specialist at Watson Library, is in the process of scanning the publication, which will be available through the digital archives soon, Whitehead said.
“The Digital Archives continue to grow with thanks to those folks who support it,” Whitehead said. “Through a great cooperative work effort by Sonny Carter and Cole Gentry plus several helpers along the way, the publications are on the Internet Archives available in a Searchable PDF format.”
Whitehead said more projects are in the works to be included on the NSU Traditions page, including athletic media guides and graduation programs. There was no additional cost beyond the regular work hours to create this asset online.
For more information on NSU’s digital archives, visit nsutraditions.com.