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"History Detectives" Airs Louisiana Story

August 27, 2010 6:00 AM
New Wave staff

When the popular PBS television show “History Detectives” needed an expert in Louisiana colonial history, they turned to Emily Clark, associate professor at Tulane. The resulting episode featuring an interview with Clark will air on Monday (Aug. 30).

Colonial history expert Emily Clark is interviewed about why a governor became involved in the emancipation of a slave.

History professor Emily Clark was a consultant for a “History Detectives” show called “Galvez Papers,” centering on the story of a slave and a Louisiana governor. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)

In an episode called “Galvez Papers,” Clark is interviewed at the Calbildo Louisiana State Museum. She is the Benenson Professor in American Colonial History and associate professor of history at Tulane.

Clark was interviewed because of her expertise in colonial slavery. Check your local listings; the show is slated to air on WYES-TV (PBS) in New Orleans on Monday at 8 p.m.

Episode 810 tells the story of why in 1779 the governor of Spanish colonial Louisiana signed a document that emancipated Agnes Mathieu from slavery. What was so special about Mathieu that a governor had to sign off on her release? Most freedom papers from the time bear only the signature of the former slaveholder notarized by a local clerk. But did Governor Bernardo de Galvez have a special interest in this case?

In the TV show, history detective Elyse Luray, a Tulane alumna, heads to Louisiana to trace an epic tale of politics, war, love and loyalty. In the French Quarter, at Tulane University and on the shelves of a local archive, she discovers Galvez's pivotal role in America's fight for freedom — both in the Revolutionary War and in a romantic story.