With nine parades set to roll this weekend, Carnival is kicking off in earnest now but the long and visually enriched history of the season is accessible online all year long through Tulane's Louisiana Research Collection (LaRC). The LaRC preserves one of the largest collections of New Orleans Carnival mementos and ephemera including invitations, dance cards, printed float plates, and over 5,500 original float and costume designs.
The float and costume designs that are accessible online include rich and vibrant illustrations from many of the oldest krewes in the city starting from 1870, including the now-defunct Comus, as well as Rex, Proteus, and more.
The site is a bit time consuming to browse since you have to click on each search result individually but well worth the effort when you stumble upon a gem. The high resolution of the images combined with the zoom feature allow viewers to take in the smallest details of the costumes and floats and get up close to what Carnival revelers were creating decades ago.
Browse the collection online here: http://larc.tulane.edu/exhibits/carnival