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Education in New Orleans

School records are often overlooked as a genealogical resource. They can document students as well as teachers. That is certainly true of New Orleans.


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Type: Article
Resource: GenWeekly
Prepared by:
Word Count: 501 (approx.)
ISBN: 0226057089
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Education in New Orleans has a long history. The College of Orleans educated young people from 1811 until 1826. You will find fourteen young men from New Orleans all attending Norwich University in Vermont between 1821 and 1828. When Tulane University was founded in 1834, the ongoing educational opportunities thrived. The College of the Immaculate Conception opened its doors in 1849, later becoming Loyola University New Orleans. In 1869, Leland University opened thanks to a private donation coupled with assistance from the Freedmen's Bureau and the American Baptist Home Mission Society. Four years later, New Orleans University (NOU) was chartered. Straight University was also chartered in 1869 and received funding from the Freedmen's Bureau. While Leland and NOU students were African American, Straight was an integrated university. A good resource for studying the history of college in New Orleans, refer to Black New Orleans, 1860-1880, by John W. Blassingame.

Education was important to New Orleans from early times. The Library Society in New Orleans was established February 17, 1805. The 1890 Annual Report given by the Howard Memorial Library lists a number of individuals who donated books or pamphlets. Page M. Baker donated 32 books, Mrs. W. B. Bartels donated 20 and J. W. Blackman donated 37 books and 24 pamphlets. Mrs. Flora Levy Gayle donated 862 books and 48 pamphlets. The report includes four pages of individuals as well as libraries and other institutions that donated reading material during the year of 1889.

The Ursuline Convent became a school dedicated to educating young girls in New Orleans in 1718. The girls in question were shipped to New Orleans as an alternative to remaining incarcerated. As early 1721, eighty girls from a "house of correction" in Paris arrived. Throughout the years, more shiploads of young girls arrived. The main idea was to educate them and then marry them off to the settlers. Each girl arrived with what was referred to as a "casket" of clothing. As a result, they became known as "Filles a la Cassette," or casket girls. Most of the "casket girls" arrived after 1728. The casket girls were among those most likely to receive an education during those very early years: white and impoverished. A variety of organizations calling themselves an "education society" provided education to the native Americans and the poor. Their detractors criticized them for providing primarily religious instruction rather than teaching students to conduct business in everyday life.

One of the first arrivals was History of Louisiana or of the Western Parts of Virginia and Carolina by Le Page du Pratz. Penned in 1763, this French military engineer arrived in 1718. Unlike others who merely toured New Orleans for a few hours and wrote as though they knew Louisiana, du Pratz toured the interior of Louisiana for five months. He combined previous histories and some rather inaccurate maps. But du Pratz did begin the documentation of Louisiana. Eventually education resources did develop and Tulane remains a top university. Education is universally available today regardless of one's ethnicity.

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2008.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

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