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Document of the Month Pages

Begun in April of 2012, Document of the Month highlights interesting documents, photographs, and other images from the holdings of the Louisiana State Archives. This page features documents for the current year. To see documents for prior years, click on the links below.

2021 Documents

Frank G. Yerby (1916-1991)

(3/1/21) Frank Garvin Yerby was an American writer best known for his 1946 historical novel, The Foxes of Harrow, a Southern historical romance. Born in Georgia in 1916, Yerby earned his bachelor's degree in English from Paine College and a master's from Fisk University. He served briefly as a professor of English at Southern University in Baton Rouge where he met Marcus Christian, a Louisiana writer and historian. Le Comité Board Member Audrey Nabors Jackson was a student of Yerby in his English class at Southern University Demonstration High School. She recalled that he was writing The Foxes of Harrow at the time and often discussed it with the class. This month's document is his marriage record to his first wife, Flora H. C. Williams. They were married in New Orleans 1 March 1941. The document indicates he was the son of Rufus G. Yerby and Willie Smythe, and Flora was the daughter of Leroy Williams and Flora Bousquet. The document is on file at the Louisiana State Archives (Orleans Marriages, 1941, vol. 55, p. 1316)

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Opelousas Bicentennial

(2/1/21) Although much controversy exists regarding the date of the establishment of Opelousas by Europeans, the date of its incorporation as a town is well established. An act of the Louisiana Legislature dated 14 February 1821 authorized all free white male persons above the age of 21 who had resided in St. Landry Parish one year preceding the passing of the act, and who were residing within a half mile of the court house, to meet and elect five persons for the purpose of serving on "The Board of Police of the town of Opelousas." The act sets for the mode of election, oath of officers, penalties for neglect by election superintendents, how to fill vacancies on the board, powers of the board, powers of the president of the board, and appointments of a constable, clerk, and treasurer. The act also divested the St. Landry Parish Police Jury of jurisdiction within the incorporated town limits. This month's document is the first page of the four-page act taken from the Acts Passed at the First Session of the Fifth Legislature of the State of Louisiana, published in 1821 in New Orleans. The Louisiana State Archives has a nearly complete set of these books.

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Jules Lion, Master Lithographer

(1/1/21) Jules Lion was a master lithographer in antebellum New Orleans. Born in Paris, France, around 1810, he came to New Orleans in 1836 or 1837 and produced a series of portraits of Louisianians which are still reprinted today. In 1840, he introduced the new daguerreotype process, the forerunner of photography, but went back to lithography. The 1850 census of New Orleans lists Jules Lyon, age 34, race not indicated, a portrait painter. In his household was Armantine Lyon, age 15, a mulatto. Biographies about him indicate that he was a free man of color. He died at the age of 56 at No. 507 St. John the Baptist Street in New Orleans on the 9th of January 1866. His death certificate, recorded under the name Jules Leon (Orleans Deaths, 1866, vol. 31, p. 124), is on file at the Louisiana State Archives.

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