Friday, September 12, 2008

Conducting Research in the SEAA

The Southeastern Architectural Archive (SEAA) is a secure closed-stack facility consisting of a large body of architectural materials in many different formats: drawings, specifications, photographs, diapositives, blueprints, etc. We have approximately 900,000 discrete large-format items and over 100,000 photographic works. In many instances, the SEAA retains the only extant copy of the project work.

To prevent unnecessary harm to fragile materials, we prohibit browsing through collections. In order to facilitate your research, we strongly encourage researchers to make an appointment with SEAA staff by calling the department at (504) 865-5699.

Access to the SEAA is provided by appointment with department staff in the Reading Room, located in 300 Jones Hall at 6801 Freret Street. Access to SEAA holdings is provided through Tulane University’s Library Catalog, SEAA’s online finding aids and card catalog.

Tulane University’s Library Catalog is the best place to begin research on your topic. Both the School of Architecture Library, located in Richardson Memorial, and the Louisiana Collection, located in 200 Jones Hall, retain strong holdings of published materials related to regional architectural history.

The Southeastern Architectural Archive’s online finding aids list individual projects by known identification (building name, patron, and/or street address). Researchers can search an individual collection finding aid by using the “find” feature within the portable document format (pdf) file. Researchers can search across multiple collections’ finding aids by using an Internet search engine such as google, and by entering known information (building name, patron, or street address) in quote marks followed by the qualifier “Southeastern Architectural Archive.”

Not all collection inventories are online. Researchers may consult the SEAA card catalog, located in the Reading Room, during our regular business hours. Card catalog indexing is based on information recorded on the project work, perhaps by building name, patron and/or street address. Knowing this information prior to arrival at the SEAA will expedite the research process.

Other tips:

The SEAA maintains supplementary materials to assist researchers in finding information about the built environment in the Gulf Region. We retain historic atlases, Sanborn maps of New Orleans (coverage dating from 1876), New Orleans city directories (from 1856), and a growing collection of trade catalogs and manuals.

Wayne Everard’s “How to Research Your House (or Other Building) in New Orleans” provides a step-by-step guide to using local repositories.

The United States Army Corps of Engineers preserves a sizable collection of historic aerial photographs of the region.

The New Orleans Public Library maintains an online street name index of its building plans.

The Historic New Orleans Collection’s electronic search facility, Mint Online, allows researchers to query its library, manuscripts, and museum holdings simultaneously.

Tulane University’s School of Architecture Slide Library is the home of the New Orleans Virtual Archive (NOVA), a growing collection of photographic images of the city and plans for its renewal.

Our staff:

Dr. Keli Rylance (

Head, Southeastern Architectural Archive and School of Architecture Library

(504) 247-1806

Kevin Williams (

Library Associate, Southeastern Architectural Archive

(504) 865-5699

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