Feb 17

3 Things I Learned from The Photojournalism of Del Hall

One of the pleasures of working for a university press is the perpetual discovery of pockets of knowledge that I never knew existed before. The Photojournalism of Del Hall is a passion project for geographer Richard Campanella, who found himself entranced by Hall’s stories of growing up in New Orleans, the son of a Mexican immigrant, and ultimately becoming a pioneer in the world of photojournalism.

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In addition to being an absolutely gorgeous collection of photos covering five decades of American history, The Photojournalism of Del Hall taught me plenty about

Civil Rights Protestors Weren’t the Only Ones Arrested in Sit-Ins

Woolworth’s and other major establishments were pressured into changing their segregationist policies by teams of black activists staging sit-ins. Arrests on charges of disturbing the peace were common. As Campanella reveals, one of the things that deeply worried the management at Woolworth’s was the presence of TV media. Del Hall and his fellow cameraman Roddy Mims were arrested at a 1961 sit-in that spanned several shops along Canal Street. They were charged with “disturbing the peace by creating a scene” and even blamed by one police officer for the protestors’ presence at the stores.

Neither Mims nor Del Hall was convicted. Participants in the sit-ins were, and often served jail time, as well as facing job loss, death threats, and other forms of retaliation from the community.

Del Hall Worked on a CBS Series Inspired by John Steinbeck

As a poodle owner myself, I’ve always been fond of John Steinbeck’s book Travels with Charley, which details a cross-country road trip Steinbeck took with his standard poodle, Charley. Charles Kuralt hired Del Hall for his famed CBS series On the Road, which was inspired by John Steinbeck’s travelogue.

Filming “On the Road” with Charles Kuralt. Del films from top of ladder while Kuralt walks by below. Del Hall Collection / CBS News

Del Hall’s work on On the Road would earn him an Emmy for Best Cinematography for News and Documentary Programming, in 1974.

Del Hall Low-Key Set Michael Jordan’s House on Fire

Okay, he didn’t set the house all the way on fire, but the lighting set-up was so hot that it melted parts of a plastic doorframe in Michael Jordan’s Chicago mansion. As you would probably expect, Michael Jordan was very cool about it.

Michael Jordan demonstrates a slam dunk for 60 Minutes’s Diane Sawyer. Del Hall Collection / Del Hall Video

Over the course of his career, Del filmed celebrities from the Beatles (he sat down at Ringo’s drumset!) to the Dalai Lama, but throughout his career he maintained a quiet presence and courtesy. When he stopped by the LSU Press office in the run-up to this book’s publication, he posed and photographed each of the staff members he met, although a lot of us are rather camera-shy. You’ll have to live without those photographs, though! Instead, buy this gorgeous book at 30% off at our website, and take home a piece of American history.

Aug 15

Around the Press in 80 Books: Accalia and the Swamp Monster

In celebration of LSUP’s 80th anniversary the staff selected 80 of our most memorable titles. Adding to our “Around the Press in 80 Books” blog series, Associate Financial Operations Manager Leslie Green writes about Accalia and the Swamp Monster.

Creepy. That’s what I thought the first time I saw some of Kelli Scott Kelley’s work from this series at a gallery. But cool, and surreal. Very surreal. And then, after hearing her talk about the work, I thought, yep, very creepy and brilliant!

Not only is this work open to interpretation, that’s the whole point. It invites interpretation. And once one goes down the rabbit-hole of consciously thinking about interpretation, one must come to grips with the realization that this artwork, better than many, forces a person to see how his or her own experiences color everything in daily life. The other brilliant part of this book is that the images are very accessible, easy to read yet full of depth: simple drawings and paintings embellished with intriguing textiles.

It was exciting when this book project was presented to us at LSU Press. I knew the artist and had seen some of this work in person. While LSU Press is better known for its history lists, many of the staff here are keenly interested in contemporary art. We go to galleries and museums, and some of us are visual artists in addition to being editors and designers. And we’re proud of our fellow Louisiana artist.

I wholeheartedly recommend losing yourself in the experience that is Accalia and the Swamp Monster.

Buy this book now for 20% off and get free shipping on all orders over $50; use code 0480FAV at checkout. 

May 15

Around the Press in 80 Books: New Roads and Old Rivers

In celebration of LSUP’s 80th anniversary the staff selected 80 of our most memorable titles. Adding to our “Around the Press in 80 Books” blog series, Senior Editor Catherine Kadair writes about New Roads and Old Rivers.

One of the least appreciated areas of Louisiana lies northwest of Baton Rouge, between the winding curves of the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers. This is Pointe Coupee, counted among the oldest settlements in the Mississippi Valley. For seven years I lived just across the parish line from Pointe Coupee. As my kids and I explored it by car and on foot, I became more and more impressed by its natural beauty, its significance in state history, and, perhaps most of all, by its warm, welcoming people. So I was delighted when I heard we were going to publish New Roads and Old Rivers, a journey by photo and word through Pointe Coupee Parish. Richard Sexton’s photographs are stunning, and Randy Harelson writes about so many different aspects of the parish—its long and interesting history; its vibrant, unique Creole culture; its longstanding Mardi Gras tradition; and much more. Harelson’s hand-drawn and delicately colored maps are a lovely bonus feature.

Some of my favorite photographs in New Roads and Old Rivers are those of the modest Creole cottages that dot the landscape, many of which I recognize from my drives through the area. The oak trees in this parish are truly ancient, some of them over 300 years old, and there are striking photos of several old-timers, including the Miss Jane Pittman Oak, the tree that inspired Ernest Gaines to write his most famous work. Most of the stately plantation houses in Pointe Coupee are still privately owned and lived in, rather than set off as museum pieces; and this book gives us an inside look at these beautiful homes not open to the public. There are photos of the oxbow lakes False River and Old River (“Pointe Coupee” means “cut-off point” in French); of the mounds built by Native Americans who lived in the area for millennia before Europeans arrived; of small-town main streets; of picturesque churches and cemeteries. Lovely images like those are balanced by photos of the people of Pointe Coupee—craftsmen planing cypress boards by hand according to local custom; workers packing homegrown pecans for shipping all over the world; women gathering weekly to sing and converse in Creole French. The traditions of Pointe Coupee are worth preserving, and as Harelson notes, the people who live those traditions are the most important preservationists of all. I’m proud that LSU Press is doing its part to preserve—and share—so many Louisiana traditions.

Buy this book now for 20% off and get free shipping on all orders over $50, use code 0480FAV at checkout.

Jun 12

“Clementine Hunter” Offers First Comprehensive Biography of Self-Taught Artist

Authors Reveal Louisiana Painter’s Impact on Modern Art World, Detail Decades-Long Forgery Operation

Baton Rouge, LA—Clementine Hunter (1887–1988) painted every day from the 1930s until several days before her death at age 101. As a cook and domestic servant at Louisiana’s Melrose Plantation, she painted on hundreds of objects available around her—glass snuff bottles, discarded roofing shingles, ironing boards—as well as on canvas. She produced between five and ten thousand paintings, including her most ambitious work, the African House Murals. Scenes of cotton planting and harvesting, washdays, weddings, baptisms, funerals, Saturday night revelry, and zinnias depict her experiences of everyday plantation life. More than a personal record of Hunter’s life, her paintings also reflect the social, material, and cultural aspects of the area’s larger African American community.

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Jun 12

Renowned Photographer Richard Sexton Captures Region’s Distinct Landscapes and Heritage


Contact: Erin Rolfs, LSU Press Book News

New Roads and Old Rivers: Louisiana’s Historic Pointe Coupee Parish

Baton Rouge, LA—”New Roads and Old Rivers,” available in September 2012, reveals the natural and cultural vitality of Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana, as seen in the stunning photographs of Richard Sexton, with text by Randy Harelson and Brian Costello. Pointe Coupee is one of the oldest settlements in the Mississippi Valley, dating to the 1720s. French for “a place cut off,” the name refers to the area’s three oxbow lakes, separated from the Mississippi over centuries. Edged by the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers, Pointe Coupee remains a land rich in Creole heritage, distinct in geographical beauty, and abounding in historic homes and farms.

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Apr 08

Why Poetry Matters

Just in time for April’s observance of National Poetry Month, LSU Press author Danny Heitman has published an op-ed in The Christian Science Monitor arguing for the continued importance of poetry. “While I’m not a poet myself, I’ve really deepened my appreciation for poetry over the years by reading the exceptional, Pulitzer Prize-winning line of poetry published by LSU Press, and that, in no small part, is why I try to promote poetry through national commentaries such as this one,” Heitman said of the op-ed. Readers can check out the piece here.

Although Heitman isn’t a poet, his new LSU Press title, A Summer of Birds: John James Audubon at Oakley House, has been hailed for its poetic sensibility. Nationally renowned historian Neil Baldwin praised the book as “satisfying and artful: local history as poetic metaphor.”

Apr 08

Heitman in Kansas City Star

The Kansas City Star includes Danny Heitman’s A Summer of Birds in its list of recommended titles from "the kind of presses who get it all done with perhaps a dozen people instead of hundreds." Read the article here.

Jul 07

Best Painter in Baton Rouge

GaryapRhea Gary was named Best Painter in Baton Rouge in the 2nd Annual Best of 225 Awards. According to the readers’ nominations, ". . . Gary marries paint to canvas to capture the brilliance and splendor of Louisiana’s bayous and marshland." In 2005, Gary joined with nature photographer, C.C. Lockwood, to portray the beauty of Louisiana’s vanishing wetlands in the book, Marsh Mission.

Feb 07

LSU Press Books Inspire Two Exhibits

LockwoodmarshFrom now until May 13, the traveling exhibit "Vanishing Wetlands: Two Views," showcasing images from the book Marsh Mission: Capturing the Vanishing Wetlands, by photographer C C Lockwood and artist Rhea Gary, will be housed at the Conservatory of the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C.  The purpose of this exhibit is to bring the subject of coastal restoration to the forefront of political discussions and educate the public on the value of Louisiana’s coastline.  For more information on the garden or the exhibit, click here for the U.S. Botanic Garden website.



Locally, LSU’s Hill Memorial Library is hosting the exhibit "An Unnatural Metropolis: Wresting New Orleans from Nature," based on the book An Unnatural Metropolis by LSU’s Carl O. Sauer Professor of Geography Craig E. Colten.  The exhibition is open now until June 2, and features images and excerpts from his book relating the challenges of New Orleans’ extreme environmental limitations, including the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  For more information, click here to visit LSU’s Speical Collections website.