The first Mardi Gras Day after the Pearl Harbor attack was on Tuesday, February 17th, 1942. Official parades and Carnival balls were cancelled due to the war (and would continue to be through 1945), although many of the floats had been already constructed and parties planned. Despite the suspension of official activities, krewes and societies met at residences and clubs to celebrate Fat Tuesday. This scene from Mardi Gras 1942 reflects revelry and good times amidst a nation at war. Members of the African American community in New Orleans celebrated with a unique tradition in which women masqueraded as little girls or baby dolls. Although the exact origin of this phenomenon is disputed, the tradition dates to at least Mid-18th Century New Orleans. Although the “Baby Doll” tradition fell by the wayside for decades in the postwar years, women have begun in recent years to don the silken dresses and bonnets and once again parade through the streets on Mardi Gras Day.
For more scenes of Mardi Gras during World War II, check out our Wartime Carnival set on Flickr.
Post by Curator Kimberly Guise.