A woman, and a doctorate degree, and The Order of the Palm, oh my!

Grace King honored by the French government for her work in literature

November 22, 1918 offered a once-in-a-lifetime honor for Grace King, a New Orleanian author and historian. On this day, she was given the Order of the Palm by the French government, bestowed upon her by the Consul General Barret of France (“Miss Grace King Honored”). One may also argue that this day proved to be extremely important for women as a whole, as giving a woman such a salient honor was quite unheard of at this time, where women were most often housewives.

the place and the people
This novel by Grace King was her most famous and influential.

The Order of the Palm is still currently given to artists and scholars who flourish in the arenas of arts and culture and spread their wisdom and knowledge, and two people are honored each year (“French Government Honors”). Miss Grace King was honored for her work in literature, chief among those being popular novels such as New Orleans: The Place and the People, Creole Families of New Orleans, and Memories of a Southern Woman of Letters (King, Grace Elizabeth).

southern letters
One of Grace King’s most popular works.

New Orleans: The Place and the People was a historical novel that documented New Orleans history from its discovery to the end of the 1800s; Creole Families of New Orleans was a historical book about established and popular New Orleanian families; and Memories of a Southern Woman of Letters was a fictional book about the feeling of and place of women at the time.

In order to be considered for the Order of the Palm, one must develop and spread her craft, and Grace King did just that. King was the founder and first president of Le Petit Salon, a New Orleans exclusive literary club that was in part responsible for the cultural rebuilding of the French Quarter in the ‘20s (Green).

“In a word, we are our past; we do not cling to it; it clings to us.”- Grace King

Additionally, King was an important member of the Louisiana Historical Society, which collected and protected thousands of important documents, artifacts, and paintings, and she even contributed her own historical work to the collections (“Louisiana Historical Society”).

grace king story
The original newspaper article that documented Grace King receiving the Order of the Palms.

When Grace King was given this honor, there were a couple of prestigious New Orleanians in attendance, including Dr. Robert Sharpe, the former president of Tulane University at the time and British Consul General Carlisle (“Miss Grace King Honored”). Miss King herself must also be considered a rare and distinguished person, if not through her work with Le Petit Salon and the Louisiana Historical Society then because of the fact that she had a doctorate degree. During this time, women often left school at age 14 or earlier, and the fact that a woman graduated high school was rare, but for a woman to get her undergraduate degree and then her doctorate degree was practically unheard of. However, Grace King did it- she graduated with a doctorate of literature from Tulane University in 1915.

Grace King was so notable that a high school in Metairie, Louisiana, named their school after her- the Grace King High School (“grace king high school”), and her novels and historical work are still being read and studied (“Louisiana Historical Society”).



“Fighting Irish – Believe, Achieve, Receive! — Fighting Irish P.R.I.D.E.” Accessed November 15, 2018. http://king.jpschools.org/.
“French Government Honors Huet.” Princeton University. Accessed November 14, 2018. https://www.princeton.edu/news/2010/05/11/french-government-honors-huet.
Green, Jacob. “Le Petit Salon – Stop 4 of 7 on the Writer’s Block Tour.” New Orleans Historical. Accessed November 15, 2018. https://neworleanshistorical.org/items/show/960.
King, Grace. New Orleans: The Place and The People. Reprint edition. Macmillan, 1915.
“King, Grace Elizabeth (1852-1932) | NOLA Preservation Timeline Person | Tulane School of Architecture.” Accessed November 15, 2018. http://architecture.tulane.edu/preservation-project/entity/312.
“Louisiana Historical Society | NOLA Preservation Timeline Person | Tulane School of Architecture.” Accessed November 15, 2018. http://architecture.tulane.edu/preservation-project/entity/315.
“Memories of a Southern Woman of Letters by Grace Elizabeth King.” Accessed November 15, 2018. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7190166-memories-of-a-southern-woman-of-letters.
“Miss Grace King Honored By France Consul General Barret Bestows Order of the Palms.”
Times-Picayune, November 22, 1918.
“Portrait of Grace King.” Louisiana Digital Library. Accessed November 15, 2018. http://louisianadigitallibrary.org/islandora/object/hnoc-lph:569.


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