Ida Marie Zorn's Autograph Books

Not much is known about Ida Marie Zorn Thompson (1861-1938), mother of Basil Thompson and second wife of T.P. Thompson.  We know when she died at age 77, as stated in her obituary from 1938, that she was both a mother and grandmother of three.  Her father, Antoine Urban Zorn (1834-1887) was born in Alsace, France and trained as a musician.  After emigrating to New Orleans in 1856 he became a music teacher and church organist.  It is indicated in his obituary from 1887 that Ida was an alto singer alongside her father’s organ playing at the St. Alphonsus Church in the Lower Garden District of New Orleans.

Ida Marie Zorn Autograph Books (friendship books), 1876-1885, 1879-1890

Basil Thompson Papers (Box 4, Folder 2-3)

The chosen sentiments found in Ida’s autograph books provide us with a glimpse into both the characteristics and values of her social circle. These books contain poetry, autographs, drawings, pressed flowers, and ephemeral material. She was between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four when these were compiled.

Autograph or Friendship Books

Autograph books at this time were not produced to gather the signatures of famous personalities. Commonly called “friendship albums”, these blank-paged books were utilized to gather personal autographs, share poetry/prose, and well-wishes for the owner. Small scraps of colorful paper called “chromos” (for the chromolithograph printing technique), drawings, and pressed flowers often ornamented the pages.

Friendship books find kinship with modern social media platforms such as Facebook as forums for sharing sentiment between friends. Their popularity pre-dates and is a direct forerunner to the scrapbook.

Ida Marie Zorn's Autograph Books