Gayle Benson & Drew Brees, please do a simple thing to give New Orleans its history!

New Orleans Saints owner Gayle Benson or quarterback Drew Brees can do one very simple thing to give New Orleans its history. Please help digitize the New Orleans Daily States-Item newspaper, 1958-1980. This is very important for two reasons: (1) the history of the New Orleans Saints, and (2) the history of "Big Easy," the popular nickname of the city of New Orleans.

The States-Item merged with The Times-Picayune in 1980. Just call up The Times-Picayune and get this done! The States-Item microfilm is difficult to search as it is, but now the newspaper is locked up in closed libraries.

Newspapers are digitized all the time, by and Chronicling America (Library of Congress) and ProQuest Historical Newspapers and GenealogyBank has digitized The Times-Picayune (1837-2019), New Orleans Item (1877-1941) and New Orleans States (1916-1941). I have suggested many times to add the The States-Item (1958-1980). It has not been done.


The July 3rd fanpost, "The History of the New Orleans Saints," states: "The original team was named Saints because the team was born on All Saint Day." That day was November 1, 1966, when New Orleans was officially awarded an NFL franchise. However, there is more to know.

The Wikipedia article "History of the New Orleans Saints" states that New Orleans States-Item sports editor Crozel Duplantier played an important role in the process. The New Orleans "Saints" received this nickname because The States-Item ran a "name-the-team" contest.

For this reason alone, New Orleans Saints owner Gayle Benson and quarterback Drew Brees should see that The States-Item is digitized. But there is much more!


The States-Item had a New Orleans gossip column titled "Lagniappe." Betty Guillaud (1934-2013) wrote the column in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and called New Orleans the "Big Easy," after New York City's popular nickname, "Big Apple." Guillaud did not coin "Big Easy," but her columns are valuable.

In 2019, I wrote the definitive article about the "Big Easy" nickname for Big Easy Magazine.

I found a 1911 newspaper article about the Big Easy dance hall in Gretna. We now know exactly were it was located, but nobody in Gretna responds to me about honoring these black lives.

"Big Easy" would next surface in the 1960s, and all the citations come from black New Orleans. The earliest citation is from the book New Orleans Blues (1964). There are 1965 citations in Inside New Orleans, a black newspaper. These cites come from the column "Scotty's Whirl" by Clinton Scott Jr., a co-founder of NOLA records.

On February 28, 1966, the "Big Easy" term made Newsweek magazine. Newsweek credited the black citizens of New Orleans for the term. Here is part of that article. printed in a newspaper advertisement.

The Big Easy (1970) is a crime novel by James Conaway. The title was used for a 1986 film that made the "Big Easy" nickname famous. Where did Conaway get it from? He said that he overheard "Big Easy" from two black men in late 1965 or early 1966.

I have suggested that the "Big Easy" term was probably popularized by a disc jockey on the radio station WYLD.

We should leave no stone unturned in our search for "Big Easy" and in honoring the black lives responsible for it. Gayle Benson and Drew Brees can help by digitizing 20 years of a newspaper--something they should want to do, anyway, for the history of the New Orleans Saints.


New Orleans celebrity chef Paul Prudhomme (1940-2015) opened K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen in 1979. Cajun cooking became newly popular. There were surely articles in The States-Item.


The "Who dat?" football chant became popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s. So, in addition to finding out about the naming of the New Orleans Saints, we can also help solve "Who dat?"


A search of The States-Item can also help to find examples of the Yat dialect.


The Louisiana Weekly (1925-present) is a black periodical that could also help with "Big Easy." I found one "Big Easy" cite while searching a microfilm reel, but there are surely more citations. ProQuest Historical Newspapers has a Black Newspapers series, but unfortunately, Louisiana Weekly was not included. Gayle Benson and/or Drew Brees can make a phone call and help get this done, and we can have black history that is not locked up in closed libraries.


Please, Gayle Benson and Drew Brees, help digitize the New Orleans Daily States Item (1958-1980) and the Louisiana Weekly (1925-present). It is very important to the history of New Orleans and the history of the New Orleans Saints. It is simple to do, and you can probably do it through the Library of Congress and the National Digital Newspapers Program and have it tax-deductible.

Is there someone on the New Orleans Saints who can read this and help?

This FanPost was written by a reader and member of Canal Street Chronicles. It does not necessarily reflect the views of CSC and its staff or editors.