By The Historic New Orleans Collection

Cajun Document: Acadiana, 1973–74

Photographs by Douglas Baz and Charles H. Traub

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Boats and swing on Bayou Faleau, near Galliano (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Charles H. Traub (1974) by Douglas BazThe Historic New Orleans Collection

“Looking at photographs always rekindles experiences of the past, and what has surfaced from that past is the complete joy of discovery we felt in our work.” —Douglas Baz and Charles H. Traub

Some 45 years ago, Douglas Baz and Charles H. Traub, graduates of the master's program in photography at the Institute of Design / Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, spent over six months documenting Cajun culture.

Their approach reflected both their fine arts training and social insight into the unique culture they encountered in southwestern Louisiana.

Douglas Baz (1974) by Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Boy with birdhouse, Vermilion Parish (1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

The thousands of photographs they made in 1973 and ’74 offer both aesthetic delight and a window into Acadiana at the vanguard of what would become a decades-long period of economic growth, cultural exposure, and assimilation into mainstream America.

Grouped into five broad themes—work and play, tradition and change, food and music, land and water, and courir de Mardi Gras—the pictures in Cajun Document represent the artists’ visual response to what they observed.

Net rack at the Dardars' camp, Fala (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Schwet's Cafe, Breaux Bridge (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Baz and Traub photographed with three formats of black-and-white film (35 mm, 6 cm, and 4 x 5 in.).

They immersed themselves in the day-to-day life of Acadiana, seeking out specific events and landscapes but also discovering subjects when they were invited into people’s lives, homes, and workplaces.

Seine fishing (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Cajun Document exhibit installation 1 (Jun-20) by John H. Lawrence and The Historic New Orleans CollectionThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Cajun Document: Acadiana, 1973–74 represents the largest showcase of this work to date. This online version covers a little more than 25 percent of the gallery installation.

Map of Acadiana (2020) by Tana Coman and The Historic New Orleans CollectionThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Where Is Acadiana?

The state of Louisiana recognizes 22 parishes outlined on the map at left as Acadiana. Data pertaining to Francophone heritage suggests a more fluid shape, tinted light green. All the places named on this map—with the exceptions of New Orleans and Baton Rouge, which are included for reference—are depicted in the images of Cajun Document. Orange represents coastal land loss that has occurred since 1932 (data courtesy Louisiana Geological Survey, LSU).

Spade (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Work and Play

Oil drilling, Atchafalaya Basin (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Oyster boat, Gulf of Mexico (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Moss-gin worker, Labadieville (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Russell P. Vaughn repairing a hoop net, Labadieville (1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Trail ride on the levee road (1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Decoy maker (between 1973 and 1973) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Country store, Mamou (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Spade (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Clifton Chenier, Mamou (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Food and Music

Edwin Broussard at La Poussiere, Breaux Bridge (1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Mama Thibo, Thibo's Restaurant, Breaux Bridge (1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival, Breaux Bridge (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Clifton Chenier, Mamou (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Boucherie, Abbeville (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Nathan Abshire with Sady Courville and musicians, live broadcast for KVPI-AM, Fred's Lounge, Mamou (1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Assumption Parish (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Land and Water

Oil rig, Terrebonne Parish (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Hebert Cemetery, Galliano (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Boy with snake, Four Mile Bayou (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Assumption Parish (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Barge, Atchafalaya River (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Vermilion Parish (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Aerial view, Atchafalaya Basin (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

19th-century shotgun house (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Tradition and Change

Teenagers at Carencro Raceways, Carencro (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Bride and groom, Breaux Bridge (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Creole woman, Mansura (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Virgin Mary, Mansura (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Mrs. Patin with quilt, Breaux Bridge (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

19th-century shotgun house (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Rose "Rosa" Jackson Pierite, Tunica-Biloxi tribe, with longleaf pine needle baskets, near Marksville (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Joseph "Bill" Theriot with his paintings, Les Contes des Acadiens, Breaux Bridge (between 1973 and 1974.) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Pirogue, Atchafalaya Basin (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Phil's Slaughter House (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Nathan Abshire, courir de Mardi Gras, Mamou (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Courir de Mardi Gras

Courir de Mardi Gras, Mamou (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Courir de Mardi Gras, Mamou (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Courir de Mardi Gras, Mamou (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Nathan Abshire, courir de Mardi Gras, Mamou (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Courir de Mardi Gras, Mamou (between 1973 and 1974) by Douglas Baz and Charles H. TraubThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Cajun Document exhibit installation 2 (Jun-20) by John H. Lawrence and The Historic New Orleans CollectionThe Historic New Orleans Collection

Credits: Story

All photographs © Douglas Baz and Charles H. Traub.

This virtual exhibition was assembled by the staff of The Historic New Orleans Collection to complement a larger physical exhibition set to open when The Collection’s galleries reopen. Visit www.hnoc.org for updates on the reopening plans.

The exhibition’s companion catalog features essays by Baz and Traub and curator John H. Lawrence. More information can be found at https://www.hnoc.org/publications/books/cajun-document.

The catalog may be purchased at https://hnoc.tamretail.net/SelectSKU.aspx?skuid=1015414.

Credits: All media
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