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Louisiana Higher Education Institutions to Document, Preserve Women’s Experiences in State Politics

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The Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication is spearheading an oral history initiative to preserve the legacies of Louisiana’s female political leaders in partnership with universities across the state.

Lead partners The Waggonner Center at Louisiana Tech University, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Public Policy Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the Department of History at Xavier University of Louisiana, along with the Reilly Center, will launch the Louisiana Women in Politics Oral History Project on March 8, International Women’s Day, and continue the celebration throughout the month of March in honor of Women’s History Month. The 2022 International Women’s Day theme is #BreakTheBias, and the Reilly Center will join the conversation by sharing some advice from the project archive through social media channels.

The Louisiana Women in Politics Oral History Project will provide not only a historical record from important female public figures on some of Louisiana’s most notable chapters in history, but also document their career reflections and how they navigated unexplored, and sometimes, unwelcoming territory. Their stories will serve as a resource for both scholars and future generations of women considering careers in the political sphere.

“While Louisiana women have served in elected office for decades, their presence is sparse even today, and their legacies go largely untold,” LSU Reilly Center Director Jenée Slocum said. “This project will contribute to understanding women’s historical and current roles in governing, as well as the work left to do in realizing gender parity in Louisiana.”

Blanco Center Director Stephen Barnes said, “Reflecting on the lasting impact of Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco’s pioneering career, it is clear that these recordings will help to document important chapters in our state’s history and serve as inspiration for future generations to advance the role of women in politics and public policy.”

The recordings will be housed at LSU Libraries T. Harry Williams Center with secondary repositories around the state including the Center for Louisiana Studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. As women are elected to positions in future years, their oral history accounts may be added to the collection.

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