Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Louisiana Women: Their Lives and Times

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Louisiana Women: Their Lives and Times

Article excerpt

Louisiana Women: Their Lives and Times. Edited by Janet Allured and Judith E Gentry. (Athens, Ga., and London: University of Georgia Press, c. 2009. Pp. [xvi], 354. Paper, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-8203-2947-5; cloth, $69.95, ISBN 978-0-8203-2946-8.)

Louisiana Women: Their Lives and Times is part of a series from the University of Georgia Press dedicated to publishing the state histories of women. Like the other books in the series, this volume is a collection of essays accessible to the general reader but well researched and documented for the benefit of the scholar.

Many of the essays give famous or infamous women scholarly treatment, and several of the early essays dispel myths as well as analyze lives. This is especially true not only in Carolyn Morrow Long's treatment of the "Voudou Queen of New Orleans," Marie Laveau, but also in Elizabeth Shown Mills's article on Marie Therese Coincoin, a former slave who became a slaveholder in eighteenth-century Louisiana, and in Christina Vella's analysis of "the baroness Pontalba," a wronged and disfigured woman whose architecture impacted nineteenth-century New Orleans (pp. 54, 30).

Sarah Katherine "Kate" Stone, whose Civil War diary from her home in Louisiana and her refugee days in Texas has aided many scholars, worked to reclaim antebellum notions of domesticity and femininity in Reconstruction-era Louisiana while embracing for herself and other white southern women new civic roles, according to Mary Farmer-Kaiser. Other late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Louisiana women in this collection also negotiated the boundaries of socially accepted womanhood, most of them crossing the boundary (and thus becoming atypical enough to warrant remembering). Patricia Brady documents the life of "the first woman newspaper publisher in the South," Eliza Jane Nicholson, while Emily Toth and Mary Ann Wilson summarize the lives of authors Kate Chopin and Grace King, respectively (p. 94).

In the twentieth century, women continued to play important roles in shaping Louisiana culture. Lee Kogan examines the influential life of self-taught artist and farmworker cook Clementine Hunter, whose artwork serves as "an important record of life at the turn of the twentieth century" and has made its way into the art establishment (p. …

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