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 CoincoinThe Baroness PontalbaMarie LaveauSarah Katherine (Kate) StoneEliza Jane NicholsonKate ChopinGrace KingLouisa Williams Robinson, Her Daughters, and Her GranddaughtersClementine HunterDorothy DixTrue Methodist WomenCleoma Breaux FalconCaroline DormonMary LandRowena SpencerOretha Castle HaleyLouisiana Women and Hurricane Katrina
About the Author
MARY FARMER-KAISER is a professor of history at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and author of Freedwomen and the Freedmen’s Bureau: Race, Gender, and Public Policy in the Age of Emancipation.
PAMELA TYLER is an associate professor of history at the University of Southern Mississippi.
SHANNON FRYSTAK is an associate professor of history at East Stroudsburg University and author of Our Minds on Freedom: Women and the Struggle for Black Equality in Louisiana, 1924–1967.
JANET ALLURED is a professor of history at McNeese State University, coeditor of Louisiana Women: Their Lives and Times, Volume I (Georgia) and coeditor of Louisiana Legacies: Readings in the History of the Pelican State.
JUDITH F. GENTRY is a professor of history at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Table of Contents
Introduction Janet Allured 1
Marie Thérèse Coincoin: Cane River Slave, Slave Owner, and Paradox Elizabeth Shown Mills 10
The Baroness Pontalba: A Peculiar Drama Christina Vella 30
Marie Laveau: A New Orleans Voudou Priestess Carolyn Morrow Long 54
Sarah Katherine (Kate) Stone: The "Agony and Strife" of Civil War Louisiana Mary Farmer-Kaiser 73
Eliza Jane Nicholson: New Orleans Publisher Patricia Brady 94
Kate Chopin: Knowing What It Means to Miss New Orleans Emily Toth 114
Grace King: New Orleans Literary Historian Mary Ann Wilson 137
Louisa Williams Robinson, Her Daughters, and Her Granddaughters: Recognizing the Contributions of Three Generations of Coushatta Women in Louisiana Linda Langley Claude Oubre Jay Precht 155
Clementine Hunter: Self-Taught Louisiana Artist Lee Kogan 175
Dorothy Dix: The World Brought Her Its Secrets Christina Vella 195
True Methodist Women: Reflections on the Community at St. Mark's Ellen Blue 215
Cleoma Breaux Falcon: The Commercialization of Cajun Music Kevin S. Fontenot Ryan Andre Brasseaux 237
Caroline Dormon: Louisiana's Cultural Conservator Dayna Bowker Lee 253
Mary Land: "When I Was Big Enough to Tote a Gun, I Did" Karen Trahan Leathem 270
Rowena Spencer: A Study of Changing Gender Roles in Twentieth-Century Louisiana Medicine Bambi L. Ray Cochran 286
Oretha Castle Haley: "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around" Shannon Frystak 303
Louisiana Women and Hurricane Katrina: Some Reflections on Women's Responses to the Catastrophe Pamela Tyler 324
List of Contributors 343