Skip to main content

Laurraine Goreau collection

Identifier: HJA-059

Scope and Contents

The Laurraine Goreau collection contains audio cassettes and reel to reel tapes of recorded interviews and performances, interview transcripts, photographs, publications, research files, ephemera, and manuscript material related to Goreau's research into the life of Mahalia Jackson for her 1975 authorized biography of Jackson, 'Just Mahalia, Baby.' This collection also contains Goreau's personal photographs, clippings from her regular column in the New Orleans States-Item, ephemera, and vocal and musical scores of her unpublished libretto, The Ballad of Catfoot Grimes. The bulk of the material in this collection relates to the life of Mahalia Jackson, whether told through the friends, family, and associates of Jackson in recorded interviews or transcripts or through publicity and personal photographs. Several drafts of the biography, from in its earliest form as assembled notes and scraps to pre-publication galley copies are maintained. This collection or portions of this collection have been digitized. See Additional Description below for more information.


  • 1940-1985


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright to portions of this collection has been transferred to Tulane University Special Collections. Tulane University can grant permission to publish for materials to which it holds the copyright. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or owner’s heir for permission to publish where Tulane University Special Collections does not hold the copyright For permission to publish collections material to which TUSC holds intellectual property rights, please contact Research Services at

Biographical / Historical

Laurraine Goreau (1918-1985) was a journalist, playwright, composer, lyricist, and actress. She began a friendship with Mahalia Jackson in 1959, and became Jackson’s authorized biographer, publishing Just Mahalia, Baby in 1975. Born in New Orleans, Goreau served as managing editor of the Daily Advertiser in Lafayette, LA, and the Evening Telegram in Superior, WI. She was also an award-winning writer and women’s editor at the New Orleans States-Item, where her “C’est la Vie” column enjoyed popularity. Goreau’s published plays include Dark Bayou, Donahue for Governor, and Next Time, Blue. As a songwriter, her compositions include "Shrimp Boy," "Is Baby Jesus Warm in the Manger?,” "Voodoo Candles," "Show Me A City Like New Orleans,” recorded by Pete Fountain, and “Who Made the Great Plan,” which Mahalia Jackson recorded. Goreau wrote the music score and libretto for The Ballad of Catfoot Grimes, a “folk opera” based on the 1964 poem by writer Hodding Carter.


55.08 Linear Feet (100 boxes)

Language of Materials



Metadata Rights Declarations


This collection is arranged into eight series, including: Series 1: Interview transcripts, notes, and related audio for ‘Just Mahalia, Baby’; Series 2: Scrapbooks and ephemera of Mahalia Jackson; Series 3: Audio recordings and interviews for 'Just Mahalia, Baby'; Series 4: Research files for ‘Just Mahalia, Baby’; Series 5: Media and publicity photographs of Mahalia Jackson; Series 6: Manuscript material for 'Just Mahalia, Baby'; Series 7: 'The Ballad of Catfoot Grimes' scores and drafts; Series 8: Photographs and ephemera of Laurraine Goreau.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Original audiovisual formats not available for playback. Portions of the collection have been digitized. See Additional Description below for more information.

Custodial History

Two linear feet of scores from Laurraine Goreau's folk opera, The Ballad of Catfoot Grimes, was transferred from Emory Libraries to Tulane University Special Collections in 2019.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digitized copies of recordings and interviews in Series 3 can be accessed remotely by visiting the Laurraine Goreau Interviews and Recordings digital collection at Tulane University Digital Library.

Processing Information

This collection was processed in stages by TUSC staff and partially digitized and reprocessed with a 2019 Recordings at Risk grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).

Laurraine Goreau collection
Jennifer Waxman
2021 August 03
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Portions of this collection were digitized with generous funding from the Council on Information Resources (CLIR) under the Recordings as Risk grant program.

Repository Details

Part of the Tulane University Special Collections Repository

Jones Hall Room 202
6801 Freret Street
New Orleans 70118 US