An invaluable resource for preservation and architectural research since 1980, Tulane University’s Southeastern Architectural Archive is home to the largest collection of architectural drawings and building records in the South.
In 1980, librarian William Cullison III established the Southeastern Architectural Archive (SEAA) in the basement of Tulane University’s Howard-Tilton Memorial Library.¹ Included among the SEAA’s early documents was a valuable collection of nineteenth-century architectural drawings that New Orleans businessman Sylvester Labrot Jr. had donated in 1948. When Tulane School of Architecture Dean Buford Pickens accepted the Labrot donation, he expressed the hope that it would one day serve as the core of a much larger architectural archive.² Since then, through the work of Cullison and his successors, the SEAA has indeed grown to be the South’s largest depository of architectural drawings and building records, covering New Orleans and Louisiana as well as the greater Gulf South region.³ Today, the SEAA is located in Joseph Merrick Jones Hall and is maintained as part of Tulane University Libraries’ Special Collections Division. The archive is open to the public by appointment.
The SEAA’s diverse holdings include close to two hundred architectural collections that comprise over seven hundred architectural firms, including the office records of Koch and Wilson, James Freret, Thomas Sully, and Curtis and Davis, as well as Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) drawings, numerous photograph collections, building models, architectural trade catalogs, and original volumes of Sanborn Fire Insurance Atlases.⁴ In addition, the SEAA maintains an Architectural Research Guide and a Historic Preservation Research Guide, both of which are excellent tools for individuals conducting historic property research.⁵
1. Southeastern Architectural Archive, “Architectural Archives,” Tulane University.
3. Tulane University, “Southeastern Architectural Archive.”
4. Southeastern Architectural Archive, “Architectural Archives.”
5. Southeastern Architectural Archive, “About the SEAA,” Tulane University.