Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Atkinson, Connie Zeanah

Second Advisor

Mitchell, Mary Niall

Third Advisor

Mizell-Nelson, Michael


In 1891, an Englishman named William Beer arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana, to take up the position as librarian of Tulane University's Howard Library. Beer quickly gained a reputation as a competent and knowledgeable librarian by bolstering the Louisiana collection at the Howard Library with maps, rare books and Louisiana historical documents. In 1896, Beer played a central role in the organization and opening of the first free and public library in New Orleans, the Fisk Free and Public Library. Beer befriended many well-known authors of New Orleans literature including George Washington Cable, Grace King, Mollie Moore Davis and Mary Ashley Townsend. Beer's influence in New Orleans and its literature, and his roles as librarian and instigator of literature have hitherto been largely ignored. This paper will argue that Beer created the foundations of a New Orleans literary culture.


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