Archive for the ‘Weekly Log’ Category

Weekly Log, 9-27-10 to 9-30-10

September 30, 2010

A tough week. It started out slowly, I just this feeling that things weren’t coming out right, that my outline had everything in the wrong order, etc etc. Eventually I solved the outline problem and got into a writing groove. But I didn’t come close to achieving my goal for this week, which was to finish my overview or “social geography” of 1803 New Orleans.

The problem wasn’t not writing; the problem was that, as always, I wrote more than I had intended to. It’s clear now that this overview of 1803 new orleans will have to be its own chapter and not the first section of Chapter 2 as originally planned. One thing I realized is that I have to analyze and explain as well as simply describe; in particular, for the section on New Orleans population and society, I have to explain my ideas as to the shape of late colonial New Orleans society, and in particular the nature of the creole/old regime elite that will play such a key part in my story as it evolves.

So, I think I am in good shape now. Next week I may finish a draft of what is now going to be a full chapter. But then i will need to go back and pad and embellish a bit in many places. I’ll also need to read a couple more books and work them in (Spear, Campanella, Tregle, among many others); the chapter so far relies on too small a base of secondary sources. First I must manage a better segue between geography/layout and population/society. then i must finish my sections on slaves and free people of color, and possibly move them in the structure. Then I must finish with Economy, Law, Government, and Political Mentalité (though I’ve done a bit on that last already.)

Maybe two more weeks to finish all this including embellishments and revisions. Then on to the narrative with Laussat. Two chapters. (I’ll have to condense it later if I do this as an LHA paper as I proposed.) I’ll revise my writing schedule soon.

Moving in to the new house tomorrow. Psyched to get back to this on Monday.

Moving Forward; Weekly Log 9/20 to 9/25

September 23, 2010

For the first time in two weeks, I’m not doing any writing today. I’m happy to say that yesterday I finished a draft of Chapter 1. It is by no means polished; it needs a bunch of footnotes added; and it needs a few fairly significant interpretive paragraphs plugged in here and there (which there is room for, since it stands now at just over 8,000 words). But still, it’s a finished chapter draft.

Today and tomorrow I’m going to dedicate to reading and notes for the 1st half of Chapter 2, which will present an overview of 1803 New Orleans (or as I call it, New Orleans in the Age of Laussat). I’m also going to take a little time to work up a draft outline for the entire dissertation, even though it will necessarily get rather vague as it goes on; it will still help me as I move forward to have some sort of overall skeletal structure in my mind, subject to change and many revisions, of course.

Next week (a four-day week, since we are moving into our new house on Friday the 1st) I will write the 1st half of chapter 2, and the following week I may do one day for notes and reading, then do the narrative of Laussat’s ups and downs overt the summer of 1803 the rest of that week (so, by Friday October 8th). The following week I’ll do Laussat’s brief reign in December 1803, the transfer of power to the Americans, and the conclusion to Chapter 2 (so really, the overview of the city is one-third, the Laussat narrative is one-third, and the transfer and conclusion is one-third). I will have a draft Chapter 2 by October 15th.

Then, I will polish up Chapters 1 and 2 together. This will include: printing and reading the chapters over, a couple times; polishing and tweaking all prose; checking footnotes and adding missing or incomplete ones; and adding in the interpretive paragraphs that are still missing. This should only take a couple days; then I will send the chapters to Sean, Peter, and Mark, my only 3 readers for the present. The rest of that week I will do notes and review my research to start Chapters 3, 4, and 5, which I will begin October 25th, and have finished by Thanksgiving or the week after.

If I manage that, I may give myself a week off, dedicated to — music? Other kinds of reading? Time playing with kids? All of the above? — and then start fresh on Chapter 6, which should deal with 1806, the Burr Conspiracy, and the rapprochement and resolution of the “early crisis” of 1804-1805.

I had lunch with Peter yesterday and explained I wouldn’t give him anything to read until I had a decent Chapter 1 and 2, and he was fine with that. I’ve explained the same thing to Mark already, and should send Sean a progress email soon, as well.

Finally, happy birthday to little Lo who turns 4 today!

Weekly Log, 9-7 to 9-10-10

September 10, 2010

OK! I’m up to over 1,000 words now (plus a great deal of footnotes). I’ve covered the french period and next I’ll handle the Spanish takeover, the rebellion of 1768, the Acadian migration, and the American revolution. After that it’ll be the fire of 1788, the founding of the faubourg Ste Marie, the Carondelet years, and the birth of LA sugar. I should finish up with the Spanish period by Tuesday the 14th, then start on the Treaty of San Ildefonso and the events leading up to the Louisiana purchase, and have that covered by Friday the 17th.

Weekly Log, 9-19 to 10-3-09

October 5, 2009

Got a lot of work done these past two weeks, mostly at the Louisiana Collection, Jones Hall, at Tulane.

  • I read the two boxes of David Rees Family Papers in their entirety and took detailed notes. Rees migrated from the rural region near Lancaster, PA to New Orleans in 1804, eventually becoming a cotton planter in the Attackapas region, marrying a creole girl, and fathering thirteen children. His connections to the Louisiana economy, territorial politics, the War of 1812, the budding domestic slave trade, and the ongoing sagas of his siblings and his mother, all make for interesting reading.
  • I read two boxes (so far) of the John Minor Wisdom collection, mostly to do with New Orleans municipal issues and especially the batture controversy. I’m not sure I want to press much farther in this collection until after I’ve read the CDV records at the Public Library, since there may be some duplication of effort involved.
  • I modified my notes database so it can accommodate other manuscript collections, not just the Livingston Papers.
  • Speaking of the good old Livingston Papers, I transcribed a few more, but still have a solid couple days of work left to finish that up. I’m in the fascinating Peter Duponceau letters right now.
  • I read a number of Batture pamphlets, including Derbigny’s original defense of the public’s right to the Batture, Duponceau’s Reply, Livingston’s  Examination of the Title of the United States, and some of Thierry’s Right of the Public … Eventually I will have to have some systematic way of making notes on these things, and the easiest thing might be to just start writing a chapter that narrates the pamphlet wars on this issue.
  • Had a wonderful lunch with Larry Powell talking over any number of things and helping me formulate and solidify some of my protoplasmic ideas.
  • Attended Jennifer Spear’s event at Tulane, and started reading her book, Race, Sex, and Social Order in Early New Orleans.
  • Before I started reading manuscript stuff at Jones Hall, I read a few printed sources on the subject of land policy and land speculation in early Louisiana, including Harry Coles’ very useful 1956 dissertation History of the administration of Federal land policies and land tenure in Louisiana, 1803-1860, and the 1937 book-length Louisiana Historical Quarterly article by Jennie O’Kelly and Robert Dabney Calhoun entitled “The Marquis de Maison Rouge, the Baron de Bastrop, and Colonel Abraham Morhouse: Three Ouachita Valley Soldiers of Fortune. The Maison Rouge and Bastrop Spanish land “Grants.””
  • Also on the subject of the Ouachita lands, I read or skimmed a couple dissertations, and read and downloaded abstracts on a great many others.

Weekly Log, 9-16 to 9-18-09

September 19, 2009
  • Read more Louisiana History articles
  • Read Carolyn Cossé Bell and Roger Shugg articles
  • Continued Livingston transcriptions

There was also quite a push on HIS377 work these past few days.

Weekly Log, 9-4-09 to 9-15-09

September 16, 2009

Okay, that’s almost two weeks. During this span I became terribly remiss in my Crescent City Confidential duties, but I haven’t been idle as to dissertation-related work; far from it. Here’s a quick summary of what I’ve done lately:

  • As ever, continuing entry of Livingston notes in my database, which is now up to about 1700 entries, with about 30 pages of notes remaining to enter. Light at the end of the Livingston tunnel!
  • I’ve started going to Howard-Tilton library at Tulane, and as a 1st project, read through all the bound volumes of Louisiana History from 1960 to 1980 for articles related to the territorial and early statehood periods, and made a database of them, with notes and comments; highlights include Joe Tregle’s piece on Alexander Porter, Jr., and Grant Lyons on “Louisiana and the Livingston Criminal Codes.”
  • Read a little of William Davis’ book on the Laffite pirates, but I’ll have to invest a lot more time with this.
  • Read Wayne Bodle’s paper on Charles (and Mary) Wollstonecraft.
  • Read a bunch of sources online and off related to what in my mind I call “The Attackapas Murder Mystery of 1805”, which hopefully I will explain here in a post soon.
  • Finally, I finished the Omohundro panel application, including writing a brief blurb about the panel’s overall theme.
  • Also, I finally got my official Tulane visiting scholar status. Must get my public library card in the next few days, too.

Weekly Log: May 12 – June 4

June 5, 2009

My hope is that eventually the Weekly Log category will actually sum up what I’ve done each week. However, this post, covering a period of 24 days, sets a precedent for loose construction of the term “week” — I may simply sum up and report “every so often.” Anyway, here’s what I’ve done since this blog began on May 12.

  • Worked through 14 boxes of documents in the Livingston Papers (Boxes 82 through 91, 149 and 149a, 152, and miscellaneous maps). These were mostly miscellaneous manuscript items and legal, financial, and land transaction records (none of which are really complete enough, unfortunately, to be used for a systematic study of those subjects in EL’s life). This ends my research in the Livingston collection for the present, a task that has taken up the bulk of my research time in this academic year, that has introduced me to the practice of archival research, and that has taught me a lot — still being assimilated — about Louisiana in the early 19th century.
  • Also in terms of primary source research, I read about 2.5 reels of the Gallatin Papers, covering the years from 1803 to 1805, making photocopies of the most important documents with handwritten notes. In the absence of satisfactory Jefferson Papers covering these years the Gallatin is a great (and underutilized) archive pertaining to federal government activities in these years. There remain about 10 reels I want to go through, and I should check to see if they exist in Louisiana or not….
  • For secondary reading, I read three books closely and completely: Kukla’s A Wilderness So Immense, Fernandez’ From Chaos to Continuity, and Fogel & Engerman’s Time on the Cross. I also skimmed other articles and books related to the plaçage question and race relations and daily life in New Orleans, generally; and did a little further reading on the surprisingly tricky and complex subject of the word “creole.”
  • I compiled my notes re: Charles Wollstonecraft.
  • I started this blog, and kept it up pretty regularly, including not only a daily log but brief reviews of Kukla and Fernandez books and a short essay about Thomas Jefferson.
  • I had productive, helpful meetings with Dan Rodgers, Tom Bender, Paul Miles, and (especially) Peter Silver.
  • I moved/renewed books, packed books up, made moving and travel arrangements, moved out of my carrel in Firestone, applied (unsuccessfully, for the moment) for departmental financial help, and generally did logistical drudgeries relating to our move(s) — out of Princeton at the end of June, and to New Orleans in August.