Silk Stockings and Ballot Boxes
Women and Politics in New Orleans, 1920-1963

Pamela Tyler


“Engaging, detailed, and thoroughly researched through oral interviews as well as documents, this book fills a yawning gap in Louisiana’s history. . . . This is an excellent book, and no scholar of Louisiana history should be without it.”
Louisiana History

“This well-written monograph shows meticulous research. It integrates themes of race, class, and gender and infuses into a local study relevant regional and national literature while identifying the unique local context.”
Journal of Southern History

“A richly nuanced analysis of the transition from indirect to direct political participation by the post-suffrage generation. . . . This is an example of the best of the new political history.”
American Historical Review

"A vivid, well-written narrative on a facet of New Orleans politics never before discussed in such detail, this book is a welcome addition to urban studies on women."

"Tyler's narrative of women and politics in New Orleans is enlightening as we examine women's changing roles in society."
Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science

"A first class history lesson for the general reader, as well as a major contribution to Louisiana scholarship."
New Orleans Times-Picayune

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Silk Stockings and Ballot Boxes is a narrative history of organized, politically active white women in twentieth-century New Orleans. Viewing their involvement as a link between pre–1920s progressivism and 1960s feminism, Pamela Tyler tells how the upper- and middle-class women sought and exercised power at the state and local levels through lobbying, fundraising, endorsements, watchdog activities, volunteer work, voting, and candidacy.

Beginning with an overview of New Orleans politics in the early twentieth century, Tyler looks at the presuffrage political activities of New Orleans women and discusses the relatively dormant state of women’s political life in New Orleans in the 1920s. From there she traces, in the careers of the city’s women leaders, a shift away from humanitarian, social justice issues toward politics. Subsequent chapters focus on Hilda Phelps Hammond and the Louisiana Women’s Committee’s crusade against Huey Long’s political machine in the 1930s, Martha Gilmore Robinson and the nonpartisan activities of the Woman Citizen’s Union and the League of Women Voters in the 1930s and 1940s, and the partisanship and direct political influence of the Independent Women’s Organization in the 1940s and 1950s. The final chapters consider Martha Gilmore Robinson’s unsuccessful bid for a seat on the New Orleans city council in 1954 and the civil rights activities in the 1950s and 1960s of Urban League stalwart Rosa Freeman Keller, now judged to be the most effective white liberal of her time in New Orleans.

Page count: 334 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $30.95

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Pamela Tyler is an associate professor of history at the University of Southern Mississippi.