Journal of American History

Special Issue

“Through the Eye of Katrina: Past as Prologue?”

In this photograph taken in April 2006, a devastated home in New Orleans’s Lower Ninth Ward bears witness to Hurricane Katrina’s destructive force and human toll.
Courtesy Carol M. Highsmith.

This special issue, “Through the Eye of Katrina: The Past as Prologue?” grew out of a multidisciplinary conference of the same name held in March 2007 and sponsored by the Journal of American History and the Department of History at the University of South Alabama. This issue and the conference were created in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, one of the worst natural disasters to hit the United States, to examine the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Because we are so little removed in time from Katrina’s August 2005 landfall, the essays collected here cannot, and do not, fully historicize the events surrounding the storm. They are intended instead to play an important part in the writing of a “second draft” of this history.

The essays range widely. Chronologically, they touch on events from the building of the first Mississippi River levees in the early eighteenth century to the use of tattoos as expressions of civic identity in post-Katrina New Orleans. Topically, they encompass urban, environmental, architectural, and musical history, as well as analyses of politics in three centuries and of carnival as a shaper of world views.

The goal of the contributors to this special issue—Christopher A. Airriess, Richard Campanella, Angela Chia-Chen Chen, Donald E. DeVore, Elizabeth Fussell, Frye Gaillard, Kent B. Germany, Arnold R. Hirsch, Verna M. Keith, Ari Kelman, Karen Kingsley, Juliette Landphair, Karen J. Leong, Wei Li, Alecia P. Long, Henry M. McKiven Jr., Reid Mitchell, Clarence L. Mohr, Marline Otte, Lawrence N. Powell, Bruce Boyd Raeburn, Rebecca J. Scott, J. Mark Souther, Pamela Tyler, and Michael G. White—is to provide a historical basis for thinking about Katrina’s impact, a way to measure its significance from many perspectives.

The Journal of American History has created a companion online project for this special issue to help readers better understand the print articles and the Katrina disaster in general. It features explanatory essays that address themes of race, the environment, tourism, and musical and visual culture. Several interactive graphic elements—including historical and modern maps—enhance understanding of changes in New Orleans before, during, and after Katrina. See


  • An Introduction,
    by Clarence L. Mohr and Lawrence N. Powell (pp. 693–94) Read online >
  • Boundary Issues: Clarifying New Orleans’s Murky Edges,
    by Ari Kelman (pp. 695–703) Read online >
  • An Ethnic Geography of New Orleans,
    by Richard Campanella (pp. 704–715) Read online >
  • New Orleans Architecture: Building Renewal,
    by Karen Kingsley (pp. 716–25) Read online >
  • The Atlantic World and the Road to Plessy v. Ferguson,
    by Rebecca J. Scott (pp. 726–733) Read online >
  • The Political Construction of a Natural Disaster: The Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1853,
    by Henry M. McKiven Jr. (pp. 734–742) Read online >
  • The Politics of Poverty and History: Racial Inequality and the Long Prelude to Katrina,
    by Kent B. Germany (pp. 743–751) Read online >
  • Fade to Black: Hurricane Katrina and the Disappearance of Creole New Orleans,
    by Arnold R. Hirsch (pp. 752–761) Read online >
  • Water in Sacred Places: Rebuilding New Orleans Black Churches as Sites of Community Empowerment,
    by Donald E. DeVore (pp. 762–769) Read online >
  • Resilient History and the Rebuilding of a Community: The Vietnamese American Community in New Orleans East,
    by Karen J. Leong, Christopher A. Airriess, Wei Li, Angela Chia-Chen Chen, and Verna M. Keith (pp. 770–779) Read online >
  • The Post-Katrina, Semiseparate World of Gender Politics,
    by Pamela Tyler (pp. 780–788) Read online >
  • Carnival and Katrina,
    by Reid Mitchell (pp. 789–794) Read online >
  • Poverty Is the New Prostitution: Race, Poverty, and Public Housing in Post-Katrina New Orleans,
    by Alecia P. Long (pp. 795–803) Read online >
  • The Disneyfication of New Orleans: The French Quarter as Facade in a Divided City,
    by J. Mark Souther (pp. 804–811) Read online >
  • “They’re Tryin’ to Wash Us Away’: New Orleans Musicians Surviving Katrina,”
    by Bruce Boyd Raeburn (pp. 812–819) Read online >
  • Reflections of an Authentic Jazz Life in Pre-Katrina New Orleans,
    by Michael G. White (pp. 820–827) Read online >
  • The Mourning After: Languages of Loss and Grief in Post-Katrina New Orleans,
    by Marline Otte (pp. 828–836) Read online >
  • “The Forgotten People of New Orleans”: Community, Vulnerability, and the Lower Ninth Ward,
    by Juliette Landphair (pp. 704–715) Read online >
  • Constructing New Orleans, Constructing Race: A Population History of New Orleans
    by Elizabeth Fussell (pp. 846–855) Read online >
  • After the Storms: Tradition and Change in Bayou La Batre,
    by Frye Gaillard (pp. 856–862) Read online >
  • What Does American History Tell Us about Katrina and Vice Versa?
    by Lawrence N. Powell (pp. 863–876) Read online >

Exhibition Reviews

Life-size bronze sculptures of George Washington, Martha Washington, and her two grandchildren, Nelly and Washy, welcome visitors to Mount Vernon’s Ford Orientation Center, and present George Washington as a private man, rather than a military hero.
Courtesy Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association/Bob Creamer.
  • “Tribal Paths: Colorado American Indians, 1500 to the Present,” by Cindy Ott (pp. 877) Read online >
  • Ford Orientation Center and Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center, by Steve Frank (pp. 881) Read online >
  • “Inhuman Traffic: The Business of the Slave Trade”; “Portraits, People, and Abolition”; and “Uncomfortable Truths: The Shadow of Slave Trading on Contemporary Art and Design”; and “Traces of the Trade: Discovery Trails Exploring the Links between Art, Design, and the Transatlantic Slave Trade,” by Lynn M. Hudson (pp. 886-91) Read online >
  • “Recovering Their Story: African Americans on the Davis Plantation, 1850–1925,” by Heather Bailey (pp. 891–4) Read online >
  • “In the Cause of Liberty,” by Andrew J. Torget (pp. 894–96) Read online >
  • The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial, by Elizabeth Cafer du Plessis (pp. 896–901) Read online >
  • “History Is All Around Us,” by Douglas E. Evelyn (pp. 901–904)
    Read online >
  • “Open House: If These Walls Could Talk,” by Kristin Hass (pp. 904–907)
    Read online >

Book Reviews

Dec. 2007, Vol. 94 No. 3

Alphabetical by the last name of the book's first author or editor.


Movie Reviews

The enigmatic preacher Jim Jones promised his followers a world of economic and racial equality, but on November 18, 1978, members of Jones’s Peoples Temple in Guyana committed the largest murder-suicide in history.
Image courtesy American Experience/Roger Ressmeyer/Corbis.
  • “Reel Report,” 2006–2007, by Robert Brent Toplin (pp. 1020–22) Read online >
  • The New World, by John d‘Entremont (pp. 1023–1025) Read online >
  • The Trail of Tears: Cherokee Legacy, by Andrew Denson (p. 1026) Read online >
  • Roots of Resistance: The Story of the Underground Railroad, by Loren Schweninger (p. 1027) Read online >
  • The Gold Rush, by David A. Wolff (p. 1027) Read online >
  • The Mormons, by Clyde R. Forsberg Jr. (pp. 1028–9) Read online >
  • The Great Fever, by Michael A. Flannery (p. 1030–1) Read online >
  • Blood and Oil: The Middle East in World War I, by Peter L. Hahn (p. 1032) Read online >
  • Flags of Our Fathers; and Letters from Iwo Jima, by Justin Hart (p. 1032–3) Read online >
  • The Berlin Airlift, by Ronald J. Granieri (pp. 1034–5) Read online >
  • The Good Sheperd, by Richard Powers (pp. 1036–7) Read online >
  • Sisters of Selma: Bearing Witness for Change, by R. Bentley Anderson (pp. 1037–8) Read online >
  • Summer of Love, by Elana Levine (pp. 1038–9) Read online >
  • The Astronaut Farmer, by Margaret A. Weitekamp (pp.1039–40) Read online >
  • Eugene J. McCarthy: Muses and Mementos, by Glen Jeansonne and David Luhrssen (pp. 1040–41) Read online >
  • Bobby, by Ron Briley (pp. 1041-2) Read online >
  • Sisters of ‘77, by Robyn Muncy (pp. 1042–3) Read online >
  • Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, by Sean McCloud (pp. 1043–44) Read online >

Web site Reviews

Web site reviews are available without a subscription.

  • Travel, Tourism, and Urban Growth in Greater Miami: A Digital Archive, by Robin Bach (pp. 1045–46) Read online >
  • Temperance and Prohibition; Alcohol, Temperance, and Prohibition, by Elaine Frantz Parsons (pp. 1046–47) Read online >
  • America at Work, America at Leisure: Motion Pictures from 1894–1915, by Alison Landsberg (pp. 1047–48) Read online >
  • Conservation and Environment, by Char Miller (pp. 1048–49) Read online >
  • Presidential Recordings Program, by David Greenburg (pp. 1049–50) Read online >

Editor’s Annual Report, 2007–2008

Letters to the Editor


Recent Scholarship

Browse “Recent Scholarship” listing >

Recent Scholarship is available as a searchable database, Recent Scholarship Online >

cover image

On the cover:

In this photograph taken in April 2006, a devastated home in New Orleans’s Lower Ninth Ward bears witness to Hurricane Katrina’s destructive force and human toll. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith. Courtesy Carol M. Highsmith. See “Through the Eye of Katrina: Past as Prologue? An Introduction,” by Clarence L. Mohr and Lawrence N. Powell (pp. 693–94).

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