What’s the purpose of this website?

We are in the process of studying the spatial distribution of Hurricane Katrina commemorations.  Our research centers around the following questions:

1) How do the locations and forms of Katrina commemorations (both formal and informal) in greater New Orleans correspond to storm impact?

2) Do the form and nature of these commemorations vary across the city?  If so, how?

We’d also like to create an archive of extant and past commemorations.  In a way, the site is a kind of commemoration in itself, in that it documents the range and location of commemorative efforts across New Orleans.  We have put a great deal of time and energy into finding and verifying the location of many commemorative sites, but the record is truly incomplete without additional community contribution.

We also wonder where commemorative efforts are accumulating in the city over time.  The mapping function of the site allows us to see patterns while also amplifying civic involvement in the ongoing rebuilding process.

What do you mean by ‘commemoration’?

Anything that serves as a remembrance or memorial could be considered a commemoration.  Commemorations can range from the official (the Katrina Memorial at the Charity Hospital Cemetery) to the personal (a tattoo or symbol in the home).  We hope to explore together, rather than limit, the concept of commemoration. The submission should document an existing (or planned), physical commemoration, rather than using the site to create a new commemoration.

How did your interest in Katrina commemorations start?

The interest in Katrina commemorations began from two different sources.  Diane Boyd, a Furman colleague, has designed and taught two different interdisciplinary seminars on New Orleans with a focus on Katrina and its physical and cultural aftermath.  One of these courses is a MayExperience course, taught in New Orleans, in which students learn about the history, culture, geography, and art of the city while also working alongside citizens of New Orleans in rebuilding efforts.  During these two course iterations (2009 and 2011) it became clear that storytelling is a primary way people commemorate their experiences with and after the storm, but there seemed to be a disconnect in the number of stories to be told versus the number of extant commemorative sites or exhibits dedicated to memorialization.

Add to that Mike Winiski’s expertise in geospatial representation and his invited workshop at Hamilton College in which he was charged to create an interdisciplinary mapping problem--and the interest in mapping where commemorations exist/take place relative to Katrina damage was born.

Drew Woten is the curious, energetic, and talented student whose contributions to the project have been invaluable. He was a member of the MayExperience class that did service work in the area in the spring of 2011.

Why are you only collecting commemorations for the greater New Orleans area?  Katrina devastated a much broader area.

As mentioned above, the focus stemmed from service projects and coursework in which students study the culture, geography, and history of New Orleans.  As we refine our analysis strategy, we’d like to limit the geographic scope of the study; however, we encourage visitors to submit commemorations for other areas impacted by Katrina to expand the discussion and the possibility for further study.  

Can I submit a commemoration without having it appear on the website?

We think a public discussion and exploration of commemoration is likely to be the most fruitful way to contribute but understand if you’d like to submit privately.  The best way to do this is through the web form which provides the option to tag a commemoration as private.  The commemoration will be visible to the researchers but not on the website.

A location is required for each commemoration, but what if the commemoration is mobile?

That’s a tricky one.  We don’t want to exclude any item that commemorates the storm, but the technology implies a stationary, primary location.  In this case, it’s best to select a location but provide a description in the comment field that explains the transitory nature of the commemoration in more detail.

How can I submit a commemoration?

There are three ways:

1) Use the online form:  Pictures and links to videos and news stories can easily be uploaded here.  The mapping features of the website allow you to pinpoint the location of the commemoration easily.

2) Email:  Send an email to
katrinamemorials@gmail.com with details and any images attached.  We need to know where to locate the commemoration, so please provide as much location detail as possible (latitude and longitude, corner of St. Charles Ave and Polymnia St, Lakeview, City Park, Lower Ninth Ward, etc.).  Please be as specific as possible.  We’ll also assume, it’s okay to post the commemoration to the site and provide the generic image citation (see creative commons FAQ), unless you tell us otherwise in the email.

3) Twitter:  We’re keeping an eye out for any tweets with the hashtag #katrinamem.  Please include detailed location info in your tweet.  You can submit images directly from twitter or via twitpic.  Like email submissions, we’ll also assume, it’s okay to post the tweeted commemoration to the site and provide the generic image citation (see creative commons FAQ), unless you tell us otherwise.

What if I want to add a category for a commemoration?

We’ve developed primary categories for commemorations but believe that user-generated categories are a vital component of the story. You can suggest additional categories using the comment feature of the website.  If you use email to submit, you can suggest additional categories in the body of the email. If you’re using Twitter, you must use the #katrinamem hashtag, or we won’t see it.  Use additional hash tags to specify other categories you’d like to apply.

I just submitted a commemoration report, and it’s not showing up on the site.  What’s up?

To reduce spam, all submissions will be queued and reviewed before being posted to the site.  Your commemorations and comments should appear on the site within 48 hours of submission.

How are the images I upload to the site handled? What is Creative Commons?
Images you upload to the site will be made available to others and the researchers via the creative commons license below. If you specify a custom attribution (typically a web link), users will use this for attribution. Otherwise the attribution will be a link to the page on this site where the commemoration appears. Before submitting your commemoration, you'll need to specify the images you are using are not copyrighted by others.

What if I don’t want the Creative Commons License applied to my images?
The Creative Commons license applies to images uploaded to the website. If you’d like to specify a more or less restrictive license or copyright, provide a link to your image in the commemoration description (instead of uploading), and specify the restrictions on your page. For this type of linked image, users are required to adhere to the restrictions specified on your web page.

How is this initiative different than the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank (http://hurricanearchive.org)?
This project complements as well as studies commemorations from a somewhat different perspective. The Hurricane Digital memory bank is a comprehensive collection of personal stories, music, and images from the storm.  Our focus is on commemorative events and physical representations of commemoration established in response to the Katrina disaster--both formal (Lower Ninth Ward Memorial, Shell Beach Memorial, and Charity Hospital Memorial) and informal (graffiti commemorating the storm, a tattoo, or homemade signs).  We’re hoping that crowd-sourcing (community contribution) can especially help document informal commemorations.  Our analysis is primarily through the lens of location or the geo-spatial distribution of commemorations.  While an image or story from the storm may be appropriate for the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank, additional criteria apply for this study:
1) Is there a known or primary location?  This is more difficult for a tattoo or film, but we’d still like to include these.  The location is up to the contributor.  For example, we anchored the documentary Trouble the Water in the Lower Ninth Ward, since the film primarily focuses on this neighborhood.  We invite comments on commemorations, including alternate locations for commemorations with more ambiguous locations, and confirmation of dates on submitted commemorations.  

2) Is there a physical symbol at the site that invokes commemoration?  For example, an image of storm damage would not be included here, unless it also included a sign, graffiti (like ‘NOLA Rising’), piece of artwork, etc. designed to invoke remembrance.  For example, the wall of the Lower Ninth Ward Village below shows displaced residents and is included in this collection.

If you’re unsure about whether a commemoration fits the criteria above, please go ahead and submit your commemoration.

How is this project different from katrinamemorials.com?
Katrinamemorials.com is an online memorial to individuals who died as a result of the storm.