Caroline Gerdes’ first book “An Oral History of the New Orleans Ninth Ward” hits stands this April (2017). The book, published by Pelican Publishing Co. Inc. in Gretna, is based on a National Geographic funded oral history project Gerdes conducted in 2012.
With support from National Geographic, Gerdes conducted an oral history project about the Ninth Ward, from its immigrant origins — through World Wars, desegregation and Hurricane Katrina — to present day. Since completing her interviews with more than 50 people who have called the Ninth Ward home, Gerdes has donated audio, video and photography for exhibit at multiple Louisiana museums and she has spoken about her work at Columbia University and National Geographic Headquarters in Washington, DC.
While she has a background in history and journalism, and currently works as a freelance writer, Gerdes was inspired to conduct this research because of a personal connection to the community, as her father and grandparents are from the Ninth Ward.
“An Oral History of the New Orleans Ninth Ward” seeks to tell the full story of the Ninth Ward, beyond one day in its history in 2005. The book explores the neighborhood’s musical influence, racial dynamics, culinary history, melting pot of cultures and recognizes the area as an influential part of New Orleans, and Southern, history.