Oral Histories on Louisiana’s Women Environmentalists in Book, Online Presentation

Women Pioneers of the Louisiana Environmental MovementWomen Pioneers of the Louisiana Environmental Movement (University Press of Mississippi, 2013) by Peggy Frankland with Susan Tucker was published earlier this year. This book is the culmination of Frankland’s fourteen year project to document women’s roles in the grassroots environmental movement in Louisiana from 1970-1990. In 1999, Frankland began a partnership with the Williams Center to establish an oral history project that resulted in the creation of almost fifty interviews, all of which are housed at LSU Libraries Special Collections. Williams Center staff were members of a project advisory committee centered around this endeavor that also included people from Tulane University, Loyola University, the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, and McNeese State University. In 2012, Susan Tucker, curator of books and records for the Newcomb Archives and Vorhoff Library at Tulane University, joined Frankland to assist in the completion of the book.

Women Pioneers will be discussed at the 10th Annual Louisiana Book Festival in Baton Rouge. Authors Peggy Frankland and Susan Tucker, along with Jennifer Abraham Cramer, will serve as panelists. The free talk is scheduled on November 2 from 12:15 p.m. to 1 p.m. in House Committee Room 4 of the Louisiana State Capitol. A book signing will follow.

Women Pioneers, supported by a grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, provides a window into the passion and significance of thirty-eight people who led a grassroots movement in a socially conservative state. The book is comprised of oral history narratives in which concerned citizens share their motivation, struggles, accomplishments, and hard-won wisdom, It sheds light on Louisiana’s and America’s social and political history, as well as the national environmental movement in which women often emerged to speak for human rights, decent health care, and environmental protection. By illuminating a crucial period in Louisiana history, the women tell how environmentalism emerged within a state adjusting to the growing oil boom.

Peggy Frankland (r) interviews

Peggy Frankland (at right) interviewing

Peggy Frankland, an environmental activist since 1982, partnered with oral historians from the Williams Center to interview almost fifty leaders in the state’s environmental movement, many of whom are women. Interviews with men and women who worked within government agencies created to regulate the petrochemical industry are also part of the collection. In this compilation, Frankland uses women’s voices to provide a clear picture of how their smallest actions affected their communities, their families, and their ways of life. Their shared victories reveal the positive influence their work had on the lives of loved ones and fellow residents. For more information on the book, please visit Frankland’s blog.

“Do Not Tear Up My Earth” (2001) is a presentation by the Williams Center that features audio excerpts and photographs by Gabriella Mills. The original presentation was created to raise national awareness of the project’s scope and content and has been retooled for online viewing in conjunction of the the publication of Women Pioneers.



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