Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Mitchell, Mary N.

Second Advisor

Brown, Nikki

Third Advisor

Dupont, Robert L.


Socialite Laura Penrose and a group of wealthy businessmen founded the New Orleans Chapter of the American Red Cross in 1916. The Chapter expanded in 1917 with the addition of two black Auxiliary Branches chartered by nurses Louise Ross and Sarah Brown. Although Jim Crow dictated the division between the Chapter and its Branches within the mostly female organization, racial barriers did not prohibit them from uniting for the cause of national relief. The American Red Cross differed from other forms of biracial Progressivism by the very nature of public relief work for a national charity. American Red Cross relief work brought women into public spaces for the war effort and pushed biracial cooperation between women in the Jim Crow South in a more public and patriotic direction than earlier efforts at social reform. Black women, in particular, used the benefit of relief work to promote racial uplift and stake a claim on American citizenship despite the disenfranchisement of their men.


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