"With its beautifully conceived framework and its compelling, highly readable essays, Louisiana Women restores important but neglected women to the historical narrative, from the colonial period to the present. Yet it is more than just an exercise in recovery. Each of the essays uses the lives of particular women to highlight broader themes in the state's history—and the history of the South as well. Louisiana Women is a shining example of how women's history transforms our understanding of history more generally."
—Laura F. Edwards, author of Scarlett Doesn't Live Here Anymore: Southern Women in the Civil War Era
"Some are well known, some are previously overlooked, but all the women in this collection shaped Louisiana’s history in important ways. Scholars, students, and general readers will be captivated by the many faces of Louisiana women."
—Elna C. Green, author of Southern Strategies: Southern Women and the Woman Suffrage Question
Moving chronologically from the colonial period to the present, this collection of seventeen biographical essays provides a window into the social, cultural, and geographic milieu of women’s lives in the state. Within the context of the historical forces that have shaped Louisiana, the contributors look at ways in which the women they profile either abided by prevailing gender norms or negotiated new models of behavior for themselves and other women. Louisiana Women concludes with an essay that examines women's active responses to problems that emerged in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
The women whose absorbing life stories are collected here include Marie Therese Coincoin, who was born a slave but later became a successful entrepreneur, and Oretha Castle Haley, civil rights activist and leader of the New Orleans chapter of CORE. From such well-known figures as author Kate Chopin and Voudou priestess Marie Laveau, to lesser known women such as Cajun musician Cleoma Breaux Falcon, this volume reveals a compelling cross section of historical figures. The women profiled vary by race, class, political affiliation, and religious persuasion, but they all share an unusual grit and determination that allowed them to turn trying circumstances into opportunity. Lively yet rigorous, these essays introduce readers to the courageous, dedicated, and inventive women who have been an essential part of Louisiana's history.
Historical figures included:
- Marie Thérèse Coincoin
- The Baroness Pontalba
- Marie Laveau
- Sarah Katherine (Kate) Stone
- Eliza Jane Nicholson
- Kate Chopin
- Grace King
- Louisa Williams Robinson, Her Daughters, and Her Granddaughters
- Clementine Hunter
- Dorothy Dix
- True Methodist Women
- Cleoma Breaux Falcon
- Caroline Dormon
- Mary Land
- Rowena Spencer
- Oretha Castle Haley
- Louisiana Women and Hurricane Katrina