The Historic Photographs of Southwest Louisiana Collection consists of approximately 5,000 photographs held by the Archives and Special Collections Department at McNeese State University. The Archives staff collected the photographs from individual donations, purchases, and from Photo Fairs held in the area. The photographs document McNeese, Lake Charles, and the Imperial Calcasieu region from the early 1890s to the present.
Of particular note are the photographs Maude Reid collected. Miss Reid was the first public health nurse in Calcasieu Parish and established several free clinics for the poor. In addition to her work in public health, Reid served as the unofficial historian of Lake Charles, collecting photographs, postcards, pamphlets, and clippings into scrapbooks. Today her materials give researchers insight into daily life in Lake Charles in the early 1900s.
Photographs in the collection also document major events in the area's history, including the Great Fire of 1910, the 1918 Hurricane, Prohibition rallies, and Hurricane Audrey. Other photographs follow the history of McNeese State University, from its inception in 1939 to the present. Finally, the collection includes images of historic homes and buildings documenting Lake Charles architecture.