View the Collections
The State Archives is primarily a repository for government documents, but there are a number of unique collections within its walls. Two of these are the Baton Rouge Art League collection of original paintings and artwork and the World War I poster collection. These collections, along with the remainder of the holdings in the Archives, help to preserve the cultural history of our state.
The Baton Rouge Art League Collection
The value of visual art for the community, and public recognition of that value, has been the purpose of the Baton Rouge Art League since its founding in 1934. It was the first organization to insist on the importance of making art available for the general public, and it has played a major role in the development of art programs in Baton Rouge and throughout the state.
Among its major accomplishments was the development of a permanent collection and the care and preservation of a major collection of WPA art. This combined collection has been preserved and is cared for at the State Archives where it is displayed on a rotating basis so that some of the pieces can always be seen in the lobby and other public areas at the facility on Essen Lane.
The WPA portion of the collection was acquired from the federal government for the city of Baton Rouge in 1937 through the efforts of city officials, and includes works done by artists living in Louisiana during the Depression years when the art program was carried out.
The paintings depict the structures, people, occupations and landscape of Louisiana during the period and are of immense historical value as well as being of great artistic interest. Graphic artist Caroline Durieux, LSU professor emeritus, was at one time supervisor of the Louisiana WPA art program, and artists represented in the collection include Bernard Shardt, Hebert Water, Harold Pierce, Alice Fowler, Charles Reinike, John McCrady, Herbert Frere, George Post, Bill Perkins, Lynette Prochaska, Edwin Schoenberger, Myron Lecky, Clarence Millet and Laura "Lala" Lewis, as well as artists otherwise unknown today.
The remainder of the Art League's collection is the result of the efforts of the group to provide original public art for the people of Louisiana. It now consists of over 48 works in a variety of media, and more than 25 Louisiana artists are represented. Among the more well known artists on the list are John McCrady, Clarence Millet, Charles Reinike, Paul Dufour, Rolland Golden, Bill Stracener, Ellsworth Woodward, Henrietta Joseph, Burney Myrick, Caroline Durieux and Robert Rucker.
The Art League deserves a community vote of thanks for its early and continued efforts on behalf of the Louisiana art scene, and particularly for its care and conservation of Louisiana art from the early 1930s to the present. Protection of the historic WPA collection has saved a valued part of Louisiana's heritage from a difficult period in history.
View selected pictures from the collection.
World War I Poster Collection
At the outset of the First World War, most Americans were reluctant to get involved. The bellicose fever which had permeated America during the Spanish American War had diminished, and now most Americans viewed the conflict in Europe as being a European matter.
However, it became inevitable that America would be drawn into the war, and with the sinking of the Lusitania, public opinion changed quickly. To accomplish this, the United States government secured the talents of some of the nation's foremost artists to stimulate support for the war effort. Individuals such as Charles Dana Gibson, J. C. Leyendecker, James Montgomery Flagg, Howard Chandler Christy and N. C. Wyeth offered their talents to this massive undertaking. Their combined efforts resulted in the creation of more than 2,500 designs. More than 20,000,000 posters were printed during the war. As instruments of persuasion, these posters proved to be a tremendous success.
These permanently displayed posters are part of the State Archives collection. The Archives' inventory of 168 World War I era posters constitutes one of the largest single collections of these items in the United States.
World War I era posters were framed courtesy of Virginia Kilpatrick Shehee in memory of her father, Lonnie Benjamin Kilpatrick.
Mr. Kilpatrick enlisted in the United States Army on April 27, 1918, serving as private in the 360th Infantry Texas Brigade, 90th Division. He participated in the battles of St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne in France. Following the war, he resided in Shreveport where he founded and served as president of Kilpatrick Life Insurance Company and Rose-Neath Funeral Home.