1898 film of New Orleans Mardi Gras parade uncovered

NEW ORLEANS — Recently uncovered footage of New Orleans’ 1898 Mardi Gras parade may be the oldest surviving video ever filmed in the city, multiple news outlets are reporting.

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According to The New York Times, Arthur Hardy’s quest to find the two-minute clip from the 19th century began decades ago. The Mardi Gras guide publisher, who had learned of the video’s existence from silent film catalogs, eventually contacted Louisiana State Museum curator Wayne Phillips, who enlisted the help of corporate lawyer and Rex Organization historian Will French, the newspaper reported. Earlier this year, French contacted family friend and archivist Mackenzie Roberts Beasley, who finally found the elusive footage in Amsterdam’s Eye Filmmuseum archive, the Times reported.

Although the Dutch museum isn’t allowing wide distribution of the film, members of the public were able to see it Wednesday at a screening in New Orleans. The historic footage, which shows six floats and a live ox from the “Harvest Queens”-themed parade, is now being included in a Louisiana State Museum exhibit commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Rex Organization krewe, NOLA.com reported. The public will be able to view the exhibit at the Presbytère through Dec. 11, according to WDSU.

“This probably, in Louisiana film history, is the most important find,” film accessory researcher Ed Poole told the Times.