Friday, December 16, 2011

Surveyors' Records

While primarily known for its architectural holdings, the Southeastern Architectural Archive (SEAA), a private research archive located at Tulane University, houses cartographic materials associated with four generations of surveyors/engineers that document over 150 years of mapping endeavors.  The records chronicle the region’s division into long lots, the creation and expansion of canals and sewerage systems, and the development of faubourgs and later subdivisions.  The collection includes survey sketches, field notebooks, chain of title research, historic maps, auction announcements and correspondence.

In 1972, surveyor Guy Seghers, Sr. sold his tracings to Lawyers Title Company.  In 1978 – two years before the SEAA was established --  his son Guy Seghers, Jr. – known as “Buddy” -- attempted to sell the family’s remaining records to the Louisiana Land Surveyors’ Association (LLSA).  The  LLSA refused the offer, but expressed their concern that the family’s records be available to local surveyors.  When Buddy died the following year at the age of 49, his father decided to donate the records to Tulane University in memory of his son.  The LLSA was grateful for this donation, as it ensured that the records of what its President referred to as the “vanishing American” would be accessible permanently.

Dominick E. (né Dominique Édouard)  Seghers (1849-1911) had established the family’s entry into the surveying business in 1868, initially clerking in his father Julien’s law firm, later working in the office of surveyor Charles Arthur de Armas (d. 1905), and establishing his own business by 1879. Records associated with his patrimony reflect the Louisiana profession’s early domination by arpenteurs, men trained in French civil engineering and civic ordinances.  His son, grandson, and great-grandson continued in a profession marked by significant changes, in a region increasingly impacted by water management and petrochemical concerns.  Over 100 years of operation, their clients would come to include municipal, parish, state, and federal governments, the Dock Board, the Army Corps of Engineers, plantation owners and major oil companies.

To consult the Guy Seghers Collection preliminary inventory, click here.

Images above from the Guy Seghers Collection, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries:

D.E. Seghers & Son Business Card.  c. 1903-1911.

Louis Bringier, Arpenteur General.  Plan de la propriété de Mr. Harvey Elkins Levé le 20 Juin 1830.  [Detail].

Unknown Surveyor.  Second District/Square 110.  From Properties A B C D E F G H I J + K/Plan of [illegible] + d H 19 April 1879.  [Detail].

No comments: