Local Council of Women of New Orleans

Manuscripts Collection
Louisiana Division
New Orleans Public Library

Call Number: MS-183
Date Range: 1898-1901
Size of Collection: 9 folders (5 in.)
Terms of Access: Available to registered researchers by appointment.

Historical Note

On January 31, 1898, a series of resolutions was enacted, establishing the Local Council of Women of New Orleans. As stated in the minutes of the first Council meeting, its founders envisioned the "formation of a Local Council of the Women of New Orleans to bring their various associations into closer relations in an organic union, without thereby losing the independence in aim or method of any society, or committing it to any principle or method of any other society which may join the Council." By creating an association of various women's clubs and societies, the founders of the Local Council hoped it would "serve as a medium of communication and a means of presenting any work of common interest." Representation by over one hundred local organizations -- through delegates and officers of the various committees and subcommittees of the Council -- evidenced the wide support garnered for this coalition by women of New Orleans.

Temperance leagues, aid societies, and religious organizations became a large part of the membership of the Council. Represented by one president and one delegate each, associations took active roles in committees and projects that met the needs of their groups and their wishes for city improvement. Among the numerous associations represented were the local chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Ladies Confederate Memorial Association, the Women's Christian Temperance Union, and the Equal Rights Amendment (Era) Club.

From the outset, the Council supported a number of issues facing the city, creating committees to better local sanitation, emergency work, public service, medical knowledge, social reform, education, and social peace and international arbitration. Women also became involved on non-activist committees, such as the Committee on Press, Prints, and Publicity, involved in the public promotion of the Council, and the Carnival Committee. Committees arranged speeches by local and visiting professionals for both the Council and the Community, allowing both women's and the community's issues a voice, while simultaneously providing important knowledge on medical practices, women's rights, and other social issues.

The Local Council of Women of New Orleans created a forum of concerned and active women citizens who could further organize their interests to better their community and their conditions. Procedure throughout meetings, correspondence, and other activity tended to be well structured. Annual elections of Council presidents, treasurers, and secretaries in the association's charter allowed the influence of a variety of city associations in leading the coalition. The Council's first president, Ms. Sophie B. Wright, carried a long tradition of social and women's activism throughout New Orleans. The founder of the Home Institute, a free night school for the city's day laborers, Wright served as an influential and able executive to head the Council. The Countess di Brazza (Cora Slocumb) -- an avid and nationally-renowned advocate of overturning the death penalty -- became another important figure in the group, responsible for influencing its conception and generating its charter.

Scope Note

The collection of papers of the Local Council of the Women of New Orleans evinces the wide involvement of local women's organizations in the community. Documentation of the Council includes the minutes of meetings, correspondence between members and from outside relations, reports on committee work, publicity, and the revisions of the Council charter. Folder 9 contains two record books from the Sanitation Committee, and includes the minutes from its meetings, relevant publicity, and notes regarding its continuing projects in the city. The records present over three years of important issues facing women's organizations, local charity, local activism, and the community as a whole.


The records are arranged by folder in the following series, as below:

    Folder 1: Minutes of Council Meetings, 1898.

    Folder 2: Minutes of Council Meetings, 1899.

    Folder 3: Minutes of Council Meetings, 1900-1901.

    Folder 4: Incoming Correspondence.

    Folder 5: Reports from the Various Associations and Committees.

    Folder 6: Inter-Council Correspondence.

    Folder 7: News Clippings and Other Publicity.

    Folder 8: Acts and Legislation of the Council.

    Folder 9: Sanitation Committee Record Books.

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Coded by: Julia Irwin on January 23, 2002.