Master of Arts (MA)


French Studies

Document Type



The Ursulines of New Orleans have been serving their beloved community now for just short of 300 years, ever since they arrived from France in 1727. They brought with them long-standing traditions and values from the Old World and innovated in many ways to adapt to the New. One of these traditions was the sending of circular letters that served as eulogies for their deceased sisters. They maintained this tradition in New Orleans but also developed a unique style, creating a livre des décédées (or “book of the dead”) that contains the biographies of the sisters and memorializes them for future generations as models of Ursuline piety and priorities. This thesis describes the eulogistic tradition as it developed in France among the Ursuline order in general and the obituary circular letter tradition in particular, providing a background for the practice as it was implemented in New Orleans. I will show that the letters not only reveal details about the lives of the individual sisters but also insights as to the values and priorities inherited from France and maintained in New Orleans. Then I will demonstrate how these values and priorities were adapted in the face of unique challenges for life and ministry in Louisiana.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Dubois, Sylvie