Rare footage from 1898 Mardi Gras shows ‘Louisiana’s identity’

LSU alumna Mackenzie Roberts Beasley has helped uncover a piece of Louisiana history: Long-lost Mardi Gras footage of the 1898 Rex parade.

A family friend of Beasley, who’s also the historian for Rex, asked her for help finding any Mardi Gras Rex parade footage. An audiovisual archivist working for the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, Beasley searched through internet databases and even called friends for help.

Using the login credentials of a friend at Yale, she gained access to the university’s library and the International Federation of Film Archives, helping her discover the footage in Amsterdam’s Eye Filmmuseum.

While there’s no audio, the footage shows the spectacle of Mardi Gras, with ornate floats and costumes.

“I think this film is really important for Louisiana’s identity,” Beasley says.

The Library of Congress agreed, naming the footage into its National Film Registry.

“This footage, showing New Orleans, is culturally significant, and it shows a portion of the United States and how different and unique our story is,” she says. Read more from LSU.

This story originally appeared in a Feb. 20 issue of Daily Report. To keep up with Baton Rouge business and politics, subscribe to the free Daily Report e-newsletter here.