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About this collection

John Norris Teunisson was born in Pike County, Mississippi on January 20, 1869. He came to New Orleans 1892 and worked initially as an inspector for the Underwriters Inspection Bureau. The New Orleans city directories do not list him as a photographer until 1901, and the 1900 census gives his profession as "insurance inspector." In 1893, he married Mary Ellen Frost (his marriage announcement states that he was from Summit, Mississippi); the couple had four children, one of whom, Nellie May Teunisson, served for a time as her father's photographic assistant.


Once established, Teunisson had a long career as a photographer in New Orleans. His photographs were widely reproduced during his lifetime in tourist guides to New Orleans, in newspapers, and as postcards. In the 1950s, Teunisson moved to Washington, D.C., where he died on February 8, 1959, at the age of 90. He is buried in Metairie Cemetery.


This collection is comprised of Teunisson prints separated by a former Louisiana Division curator from the Division's "General Interest" collection, the Municipal Government collection, and prints and glass plate negatives originally described as part of the "Glass Slide" collection. A number of the photographs are clearly signed or stamped with Teunisson's name. The evidence used to identify the unsigned photographs as Teunisson's is not documented, although the curator apparently based her judgment on internal clues in the photographs themselves and on similarity to published Teunisson prints.


Included in the collection are views of the Atlanteans carnival ball of 1940, carnival decorations on downtown streets in 1906, the Fisk Free and Public Library, local hotels (including photographs of drawings of hotels), riverfront scenes, and other miscellaneous local sites.


Additional collections of Teunisson photographs can be found at the Louisiana State Museum (click here for the LSU Digital Library's presentation of the LSM collection), Tulane University's Southeastern Architectural Archive and Latin American Library, the Historic New Orleans Collection, the University of New Orleans, the University of Southern Mississippi, and the Library of Congress. 


The collection is arranged into six series:

  •  Atlanteans Ball, 1940 

 These photographs were taken on January 30, 1940, at the New Orleans Municipal Auditorium, during the carnival ball of Atlanteans. The theme of the pageant, "Renascence [sic] of Atlantis," marked the golden anniversary of the krewe and reproduced the original tableau of 1891. The queen in 1940 was Gifford Glenny; maids were Adele Williams, Marilee Tullis, Sara Louise McLellan, Katherine Phillips, Peggy Jones, and Brice Blakemore.  The photographs are 5 x 8" prints, unmounted. Each is embossed with the stamp "Teunisson Photo, New Orleans." 

  • Downtown streets, February 26, 1906, before or after the Proteus Parade

 These photographs of various downtown streets decorated for carnival were taken on Monday, February 26, 1906, either just before or after the Proteus parade. The year marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of Proteus, and the parade was delayed by a light rain. The theme of the parade was "The Inspiration of Proteus," and included scenes from presentations of earlier Proteus parades. The ball was held that evening at the French Opera House.  The prints vary in size from 4 1/8 x 9 1/4" to 7 1/4 x 9 1/4" (the majority are the latter size). They are glued onto stiff white board, which is itself glued to heavy black paper (they were perhaps once part of a photograph album). "Teunisson Photo" is printed on the white board.

  • Fisk Free & Public Library 

These four photographs were taken in the Fisk Free and Public Library, housed in St. Patrick's Hall on Lafayette Square, ca. 1896-1906. The library had been formed by Ordinance #12,217 C.S. on April 15, 1856 from a merger of the Fisk Library and the "City Library," formerly housed in City Hall (Gallier Hall). Within a few years, library would be known as the New Orleans Public Library and would (in 1908) move into its first real home, the Carnegie financed Main Library building at Lee Circle.  "Fisk and Public Library of N.O. LA" is printed on each photograph.

  • Hotels

Prints of New Orleans hotels. The drawings of the Grunewald and St. Charles Hotels are very similar to drawings reproduced in Hansell's Photographic Glimpses of New Orleans, 1908, and similar guidebooks to the city.  The photographs are 8 x 10" mounted on black board. Each of these prints was produced from a glass plate negative.

  • River/Riverfront 

Photographs of the New Orleans docks and of the arrival of Rex on Lundi Gras.  The prints are 8 x 10"; mounted on board.

  • Miscellaneous
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