NOLA Life Stories

NOLA Life Stories features first person perspectives of the individuals who have helped shape our community.

Created by The Historic New Orleans Collection with the collaboration of WWNO, the show features excerpts from oral history interviews conducted as part of THNOC’s Oral History Program, an ongoing effort to record and archive the voices and experiences of the people that have made New Orleans what it is today.

Sarah Holtz, Producer

Mark Cave, Executive Producer

Found Objects, Lost Lives And The Powerful Art of Mitchell Gaudet

May 17, 2019
Mary Rickard

Artist Mitchell Gaudet is known around New Orleans for several things, not the least of which is the dazzling glasswork he’s created at Studio Inferno since 1992. Perhaps a lesser known fact about Mr. Gaudet is that he’s a veteran who was on active duty during Operation Desert Storm. His unique view of the world through the lens of an artist and a veteran led him to confront the issue of gun violence in New Orleans. In this edition of NOLA Life Stories, Mr. Gaudet describes this arc of his artistic career.

The Longest Walk: How A Kindergartener Became A Civil Rights Ally

Apr 19, 2019
The Historic New Orleans Collection

As part of their civil rights oral history project, The Historic New Orleans Collection is documenting the 1960 desegregation of New Orleans schools. Pam Foreman Testroet became part of that history when, as a white student, she decided to attend William Frantz Elementary School with Ruby Bridges.

The Historic New Orleans Collection

Activism is often assumed to be a project of young people, an activity with an expiration date. For Stewart Butler, it’s the exact opposite. He joined the LGBTQ rights movement in the 1980s at the age of 50. Today, Mr. Butler is considered by many to be a leader in the gay rights community, and in 2013 the ACLU recognized his efforts with an achievement award. In this edition of NOLA Life Stories, Mr. Butler charts his path to becoming an activist. The story begins in San Francisco. 

Danger And Resistance At Pontchartrain Beach: A Civil Rights Story

Feb 15, 2019
The Historic New Orleans Collection

Katrena Jackson Ndang came of age at a time when the phrase "the personal is political" was reaching new heights. While she was enrolled at Southern University, Ms. Ndang became a civil rights activist, and she used non-violent resistance in protests across the city, including on one fateful day at Pontchartain Beach. She eventually ex-patriated to Cameroon, but her civil rights years are ingrained in her memory, which she shared for this edition of NOLA Life Stories.


The Katrina Season: Tom Benson's Oral History

Jan 18, 2019
Keely Merritt, The Historic New Orleans Collection

Saints fans across the city are gearing up for the NFC Championship Game this Sunday. Last year, the Saints family lost longtime team owner Tom Benson. He served as owner starting in 1985, through the difficult aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and during the team’s Super Bowl victory in 2010. In this edition of NOLA Life Stories, we’ll hear an interview with Tom Benson from the archives, when he shared memories of the pivotal year in Saints football that would come to be known as the Katrina Season.