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Exhibit: Lap Desks

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The current exhibit in the Main Hall of Edith Garland Dupré Library features lap desks from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, selections from a large collection donated to the Library by George Newton, a UL Lafayette alumnus.

Long before the invention of laptop computers, smart phones and the like, our ancestors used their own portable writing boxes to compose and store their
correspondence and other important documents.

Besides a writing surface, lap desks usually featured compartments for pens, ink, and sand or blotting paper, and storage for stationery and documents. Made of hardwoods like mahogany or walnut, with brass corners and bands for added strength, these sturdy boxes could withstand the rigors of travel over bad roads.

Later lap desks were often elaborately carved, or inlaid with beautiful woods, ivory, mother of pearl or silver in ornate patterns. Many included “secret” drawers hidden beneath the ink and pen compartments. These later desks were smaller and lighter than their predecessors. The exhibit remains on display through early May.

For more information, contact Jean Kiesel, Louisiana Room Librarian, (337) 482-1164.

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