In 1727, twelve nuns left France to establish a community of Ursuline nuns in New Orleans, the capital of the French colony of Louisiana. Their convent was the first in the territory that would eventually be part of the United States. Notable for establishing a school that educated all free girls, regardless of social rank, the Ursulines also ran an orphanage, administered the colony’s military hospital, and sustained an aggressive program of catechesis among the enslaved population of colonial Louisiana that contributed to the development of a large, active Afro-Catholic congregation in New Orleans. In Voices from an Early American Convent: Marie Madeleine Hachard and the New Orleans Ursulines, 1727–1760, published this month, Emily Clark extends the boundaries of early American women’s history through the first-hand accounts of these remarkable French female missionaries, in particular Marie Madeleine Hachard.
A recent review in the New Orleans Times-Picayune says "The story of the Ursuline nuns in New Orleans is one of women’s adventurous spirits, strong wills and good hearts." Click here to read the entire review on the New Orleans Times-Picayune web site.