This book features women's biographies as microhistory. Moving chrologically 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 rms 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-kwn figures as author Kate Chopin and Voudou priestess Marie Laveau, to lesser kwn 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.
Janet Allured is an associate professor of history and director of the Women's Studies Program at McNeese State University. Judith F. Gentry is a professor of history at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.