About the Josephine Louise Newcomb Letters Project

Goals of the Project

The primary goal of the Josephine Louise Newcomb Letters Project is to make known new and existing materials about JLN so as to encourage others to learn and explore additional aspects of her life. In the 1980s, civil rights activist and philanthropist Rosa Keller wrote of Mrs. Newcomb: “There is quite a bit more of mystery than of history in her biography. If she kept diaries, none have come down to us. Her letters could illuminate Mrs. Newcomb for us, but these, too, are nowhere to be found.” We are happy now to be able to provide the letters that may indeed tell many people about her inner life­—her principles, intentions, personal struggles, and meaningful relationships.

We have chosen a website as our goal rather than a book because the digital humanities offer the unique opportunity to provide content on the Internet, to disseminate knowledge, and to create, in fact, a community of people involved in the history of women’s education, especially as it evolved at Newcomb College. We considered the future of the project as well as its very foundation in community. We call it a “Project” because we consider it an on-going work-in-progress, one we invite you to contribute to. As Anne Burdick and others wrote in their 2012 MIT publication on the meaning of the digital humanities, projects undertaken should involve “not just a collective singular but also the humanities in the plural, able to address and engage disparate subject matters across media, language, location, and history.”

Project Directors

Susan Tucker and Beth Willinger edited Newcomb College, 1886-2006: Higher Education for Women in New Orleans, an anthology of essays on the College (LSU Press, 2012).

Photo, Courtesy of Carrie Chrisco.

Susan Tucker, Ph.D., is an archival consultant specializing in the manuscripts and private records of families. Between 1985 and 2015, she oversaw the Newcomb Archives and the Vorhoff Library at Tulane University. There she was best known for work on the papers of Newcomb Pottery, scrapbooks, and oral history projects. Among her publications are Telling Memories Among Southern Women, The Scrapbook in American Culture (with Katherine Ott and Patricia Buckler) and City of Remembering. She was awarded the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017.



Photo, Courtesy of Peter Calonico.

Beth Willinger, Ph.D., is a sociologist, feminist scholar, and retired executive director of the Newcomb Center for Research on Women at Tulane University. Her research has focused largely on Louisiana women’s political, economic and educational status. She has published and lectured widely on the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the women of New Orleans, gender inequality in the state, and the social history of nineteenth and twentieth century women, with a particular interest in housing for single women. She was named the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Humanist of the Year in 2003.