Welcome to KnowLA, the encyclopedia of Louisiana, presented by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. The only resource of its kind, KnowLA makes accurate, engaging, scholarly information about Louisiana's culture and history available to everyone with an Internet-enabled device. By compiling peer reviewed, in-depth entries, written by the top scholars in their fields, KnowLA staff are building a permanent digital archive of scholarship on Louisiana, with special features for students, teachers and cultural travelers. KnowLA also brings together cultural and historical materials from most of Louisiana's major archives and special collections.
Like Louisiana itself, KnowLA is a work in progress. The version of KnowLA that you now see was launched in December 2010 and presents a BETA, or trial, version of the site. Currently, KnowLA includes more than six hundred entries in six subject areas—architecture, art, folklife, history, literature, and music—as well as more than 1500 images. A number of the entries are still under development and are labeled accordingly. Most entries, however, are already accompanied by images, a bibliography of suggested readings, a list of related KnowLA entries, and links to useful resources.
You can begin exploring and searching KnowLA directly from the home page. From here you can:
- Search for a specific topic with the search box in the top right corner;
- Browse entries alphabetically with the "Quick Browse" feature;
- Click the "Media" tab to find a comprehensive index of the images, videos, audio files, and other media;
- Browse entries by topic, category, or time period;
- See the latest additions to KnowLA in the "Recent Additions" box; or,
- See what we are working on by clicking the "Coming Soon" tab.
You can navigate KnowLA on all computers with current browsers. If you have trouble, please be sure you have installed the most up-to-date browser software supported by your computer.
Look. Listen. Interact.
As you explore KnowLA, be sure to see some of our unique multimedia features. Our entry on Louis Armstrong, for example, is accompanied by an audio clip of the song "Heebie Jeebies," while the entry on E.J. Bellocq features a short video about the photographer. Similarly, we've included a timeline to place the entry on the New Orleans school crisis within its historical context. Finally, our entry on the Civil War in Louisiana introduces a tool we call the document viewer. Move the magnifying glass over the "Ordinance Against Slavery" to see what this tool can do.
We will continue to develop KnowLA, adding two to three hundred new entries and additional features each year. Where you currently see words in boldface type, you will eventually see entries. In addition to the original six subject areas, we will include the following categories: archaeology; business and industry; education; ethnicity; foodways; geography and the environment; government/politics; languages; law; media; religion; science and medicine; sports and recreation; travel and tourism.
In the years to come, KnowLA will be enhanced with additional documents, maps, and images. Our maps will include information about parishes, cities, towns, and sites around the state, allowing users to explore, research, and/or create personal itineraries and tours. Visiting for Jazz Fest? Build a self-guided tour of New Orleans's historical music venues and sites. Planning a trip to Poverty Point National Monument? Use KnowLA's interactive state maps and calendars to find other venues, as well as amenities such as hotels and restaurants along the way. For those who cannot visit in person, KnowLA will include virtual, 360-degree tours of sites such as Poverty Point and Melrose Plantation—the next best thing to being there.
Our staff will also be developing and collecting materials for use in the classroom. Teachers and other users will be able to create personal accounts within KnowLA, where they can save images, contributes stories, and take notes.
We'll be adding at least one thousand additional interactive entries, but even that will not be enough to adequately document a state as rich in culture and heritage as Louisiana, so please let us know what you would like to see. If we don't have an entry in progress, we will consider creating one.
Eventually, we also hope that KnowLA will provide a forum for users to respond to the information they encounter in the encyclopedia. We will provide space for this interaction through thoughtfully moderated, virtual meeting rooms. If you think our entry on Reconstruction is too narrow, or disagree about the meaning of Kate Chopin's "The Awakening," we want to hear, and so will others. Each section (history, music, etc.) will have space for civil commentary and discussion with our authors, scholars, staff, and other readers. We also intend to include different interpretations and perspectives on controversial subjects to accommodate diverse views.
Most of all, we want to make KnowLA a tool that you will use in your everyday life, so we are particularly eager to hear your comments, criticisms, and suggestions. You can leave feedback here or contact the KnowLA staff directly here.
New entries and features are added continuously, so check in frequently to see what's new. If you like, we will notify you via email or Facebook when significant new content is added.