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Women Pioneers of the Louisiana Environmental Movement

Women Pioneers of the Louisiana Environmental Movement

By Peggy Frankland
With Susan Tucker
Paperback : 9781496802446, 259 pages, 35 b&w photographs; 2 maps, January 2015
Hardcover : 9781617037726, 288 pages, 35 b&w photographs; 2 maps, April 2013

Compelling accounts from early champions of Louisiana’s struggle to save natural resources


Women Pioneers of the Louisiana Environmental Movement provides a window into the passion and significance of thirty-eight committed individuals who led a grassroots movement in a socially conservative state. The book is comprised of oral history narratives in which women activists share their motivation, struggles, accomplishments, and hard-won wisdom. Additionally, interviews with eight men, all leaders who worked with or against the women, provide more insight into this rich—and also gendered—history.

The book sheds light on Louisiana 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 already struggling with the dual challenges of adjusting to the civil rights movement and the growing oil boom.

Peggy Frankland, an environmental activist herself since 1982, worked with a team of interviewers, especially those trained at Louisiana State University's T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History. Together they interviewed forty women pioneers of the state environmental movement. Frankland's work also was aided by a grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. In this compilation, she allows the women's voices to provide a clear picture of how their smallest actions impacted their communities, their families, and their way of life. Some experiences were frightening, some were demeaning, and many women were deeply affected by the individual persecution, ridicule, and scorn their activities brought. But their shared victories reveal the positive influence their activism had on the lives of loved ones and fellow citizens.


"By these testimonials, some of the most powerful evidence possible, the book describes a phenomenon—the rise of ordinary-seeming women to courageous and extraordinary achievements. "

- Oliver A. Houck, author of Taking Back Eden: Eight Environmental Cases That Changed the World and Down on the Batture

"This highly remarkable book brings us the poignant, untold story of brave frontline activists who rose from their daily routines as homemakers, farmers, and teachers to fight a powerful company spewing toxic waste amidst an unsuspecting citizenry. They were not born to activism; they surprised themselves. But like the first abolitionists and suffragettes, these pioneers began a great awakening to the environmental disaster that remains with us still. A hugely inspiring book to guide us all in the crucial work ahead. "

- Arlie Hochschild, author of The Outsourced Self: Intimate Life in Market Times and The Second Shift: Working Families and the Revolution at Home