Albany State University professors conducted research in New Orleans at the Williams Research Center and Tulane University's Hogan Jazz Archive, Manuscript Department, and Amistad Research Center on May 8 â" 10.
Dr. Florence Lyons, associate professor of Speech, Dr. Maurice Melton, associate professor of History, Dr. Devona Mallory, associate professor of English, and Michael Decuir, assistant professor of music visited New Orleans' libraries which house archival materials spanning a wide range of fields and disciplines.
The professors also met with Allen Toussaint, a songwriter, performer, producer, and the 2013 recipient of an honorary doctorate degree at Tulane University. In a career that spans five decades, Toussaint has collaborated with music legends such as The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, and Aaron Neville. He shared information with ASU faculty members about vaudeville musicians who influenced his career.
The ASU professors investigated theatre, literature, maritime pilots and the Harlem Renaissance during the trip.
Lyons' research focused on twentieth-century blackface and addresses the danger African American minstrels faced while touring throughout the United States. "In addition to examining an extensive collection of books regarding blackface, I interviewed a Tulane scholar, Lynn Abbott, who has authored two books regarding minstrelsy. He provided a wealth of information regarding the lynching of multiple African American minstrels during the first decade of the twentieth-century," said Lyons.
Mallory researched vestiges of the "magic and motherhood" concept in women's literature. Melton investigated African American maritime pilots in the southern shipping trade; and Decuir researched Louis Armstrong's early New Orleans education at the "Colored Boys Waif's Home."
"We are looking forward to next week's interview with famed New Orleans musician Ellis Marsalis (father of Wynton and Branford Marsalis) regarding those musicians who impacted his career," said Decuir.
The Title III grant that funded the research was earmarked for the RAMS (Researchers Analyze Multiple Subjects) Faculty Learning Community, an outgrowth of collaboration between professors who taught student learning communities at ASU.