Featuring my knighthood nominations for March 2014:
New Orleans has a generous historical list of sirens, suffragettes, and superheroines—women I’m going to generally refer to as dames, because a dame is a women with determination—and also the female equivalent of a knighthood. And these women are DAMES. I’m spending the month of March in New Orleans and in honour of Women’s History Month, I’m nominating 31 historical women for personal knighthoods. Each of these women from history spent time in New Orleans over the past few centuries.
Every day, I’ll add an inspiring woman that I’ve come across in my reading—some well-known, some lesser-known, but each one a crucial contributor to the New Orleans of today. I’ll include a quote when possible, a link to more information about each NOLA dame’s life, and an address in New Orleans to commemorate her.
March 1: 1st LA pharmacist: Sister Francis Xavier Hebert, 1727, establishes medical herb garden at Royal Hospital (Ursuline Convent) Visit this site for more info about Sister Francis Xavier & for photos of today's herb garden.
March 2: Former African slave Justine Fervin Couvent founds 1st school for orphans of Free People of Colour 1832. More about Mme Couvent here; The Last Will and Testament of La Veuve Couvent states: “I wish and ordain that my land at the corner of Grands Hommes (now Dauphine) and Union (now Touro) streets will be forever dedicated and employed for the establishment of a free school for the orphans of color of the Faubourg Marigny”.
March 3: Journalist & suffragette Elizabeth Lyle Saxon petitions the 1879 LA Constitutional Convention for women’s right to vote. 100 yrs ago today, women marched on Washington for the Right to Vote. More here
March 4: 1876: journalist & SPCA advocate Eliza Jane Nicholson (pseud Pearl Rivers) named 1st woman daily news publisher in US. Nicholson inherits a nearly-bankrupt New Orleans Picayune and turns it into a successful dynamic newspaper with new features such as special Carnival/Mardi Gras coverage. In 1884, Nicholson becomes president of the Women’s National Press Association. More about Miss Eliza Jane here
March 5: “I will fight for my country but I will not lie for her.” – Zora Neale Hurston, Florida writer & NOLA Voodoo ethnographer While researching Mules and Men (her fantastic book of folktales and Hoodoo investigation), ZNH lived for a little while at 2744 Amelia Street, New Orleans & later at 7 Bellevue Court in Algiers.
March 6: Surgeon Elizabeth Magnus Cohen 1st LA woman physician copes w yellow fever & smallpox epidemics 1857-1887 “Never lost a patient” Her private medical office was apparently located in the French Quarter; when she retired, Dr. Cohen moved into the Touro Infirmary, where she volunteered for the rest of her life. She lived to be 101, declaring that she’d never lost a patient. More info about Dr Elizabeth here
March 7: Businesswoman Rosette Rochon, Free Woman of Colour, in 1806 is one of 1st investors in Bernard de Marigny’s new suburb. A museum of one of her houses is in progress at 1515 Pauger Street. More about Mme Rosette here
March 8: Restauranteur Ruth Fertel, 1st female LA horse trainer, single mom, founder of Ruth’s Chris Steak Houses. More about Miss Ruth here And the original location of the steak house that made her a success? 11 Broad Street. “I’ve always hated the name,” she was known to say.