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

March 8, 2022

BATON ROUGE—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.

For more information, contact acharbonnet1@lsu.edu


The Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs is partnership-driven, action-oriented and dedicated to exploring contemporary issues at the intersection of mass communication and public life. Its interdisciplinary approach draws together experts from diverse fields to advance research and dialogue. The intent is to inspire our communities to think deeply, take action, develop solutions and broaden knowledge. Underlying the Center’s endeavors is to strengthen and advance the Manship School of Mass Communication’s national and state leadership in media and politics.

LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication ranks among the strongest collegiate communication programs in the country, with its robust emphasis on media and public affairs. It offers undergraduate degrees in public relations, journalism, political communication, digital advertising and pre-law, along with four graduate degree programs: master of mass communication, Ph.D. in media and public affairs, certificate of strategic communication and dual MMC/law degree.

The Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Public Policy Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is an independent, interdisciplinary research center and archive engaged in research across a range of topics in public policy. The Blanco Center advances evidence-based public policy to make Louisiana a better place to live and work with core areas of focus in education, poverty and economic opportunity, criminal justice reform, health and healthcare, the coast and environment, and governmental ethics. Learn more at blancocenter.louisiana.edu.

The T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History, founded in 1991, is the most comprehensive oral history repository in the state of Louisiana, and one of the largest in the South. The mission is to document, preserve, and make available Louisiana’s diverse culture and history and to engage in outreach, assisting community members in learning about oral history research and in creating unique projects to document underrepresented communities. Topics include university history, Civil Rights, Louisiana politics, military history, women and gender studies, architecture, law, grassroots movements, and education.  A significant number of the collections are the result of collaborations with community groups, individual scholars and researchers, like-minded organizations, and class projects and provide primary resources on African American, Cajun, Latinx, and Native American history.

The Waggonner Center seeks to foster and promote active and responsible civic engagement through an interdisciplinary combination of academic research, innovative curricular initiatives, and community outreach. With its unique institutional design, the Waggonner Center brings together faculty from across Louisiana Tech University who take as their point of departure the intersection of American principles, institutions, and public policy, broadly understood. By working across traditional academic disciplines, the Waggonner Center aims to create an unprecedented academic experience that engages faculty, students, and community stakeholders alike.

The Department of History at Xavier University of Louisiana develops scholars who are able to analyze complex issues, events, and ideas by mastering analytical thinking, writing, and communication skills. Dedicated to the humanistic study of the past to understand the present better and navigate the future successfully, graduating history majors are well prepared to pursue careers in law, medicine, journalism, business, international relations, government, public history, politics, publishing, research and teaching.  An undergraduate degree in history is also excellent preparation for masters or Ph.D. programs in history, area studies, gender studies, or any humanities or social science discipline.