The Louisiana State Museum has placed what is considered to be the oldest video of New Orleans and Mardi Gras on display.

The black-and-white footage from 1898 shows a parade, watched by smartly-dressed people lining the streets and crowding the balconies - not so different from today's partygoers, although perhaps rather more reserved.

The footage, found at the Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam, is part of an exhibit marking the 150th anniversary of the Rex Organization, which organizes one of Louisiana's largest Mardi Gras parades.

Mardi Gras - French for 'Fat Tuesday' - is a traditional day of excessive eating and partying ahead of the somber season of sacrifice to follow in the Catholic calendar.

In New Orleans, festivalgoers wear and toss beads - known as "throws" - from the streets and balconies in the historic French Quarter.

Dillard University assistant professor of history Dr. Eva Baham said the video showed that the traditions of marching bands and people lining the streets had not changed in over a century, although it indicates that only later did people start throwing beads.

Baham said the footage provides evidence of many New Orleans customs at that time, including dressing up to go to Canal Street.

She pointed to the role more marginalized people played in helping the elite with both the parade and their lives, something that still continues to this day.

"You'll see all of these same groups of people involved in putting on what is often referred to as the greatest free show," said Baham.

Mardi Gras is celebrated on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent, a period of reflection and abstinence on the Catholic calendar.