The Real Housewives of New Orleans: 1919

The true nature of the New Orleans Housewives’ League and what they stood for

On November 9th, 1919, a Times-Picayune article announced that The Housewives’ League of New Orleans would hold its annual luncheon to discuss reports made throughout the year and new officials and committee members would be named. With the progressive foundations, the Housewives’ League has helped New Orleans women to be better wholesalers, consumers of household goods and food, as well as better homemakers, but not all women. These progressive ideas were only a way to hide the classist and racist ways of the southern branch of this organization.

“Seniority Luncheon | Tulane University Digital Library.” Whitesell, Joseph Woodson “Pops,” 1876-1958. Accessed November 5, 2019.

During the 1910s and early 1920s, the emergence of an association made by affluent white women and for affluent white women came in a time when cities across the US were going through a food crisis, and the price of items like eggs and milk were fluctuating. At the time, the league’s president Inez MacMartin Meyers saw this as an opportunity for a white woman’s right to be a part of the socialist party by way of controlling food markets and curb stands. These markets were opened only in affluent Uptown New Orleans and were run by white women.

Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. “Market Scene, New Orleans.” Image. Accessed November 5, 2019.

“I think we are all socialistic, or will get there soon, the longer we find that we can’t do the things we want to do.” -Meyer

Gessler, “Warriors for Lower Prices.”

Founded on progressive and socialistic views, the Housewives’ League fought for segregated south. “For instance, the Housewives’ League allied with white labor unions while sabotaging a black domestic workers’ union made up of league members’ own employees”(Gessler, “Warriors for Lower Prices.”). In comparison to the Orleans Parish Housewives’ League where class and race gets you farther, Housewives’ League Detroit had different ideals.

“Fannie B. Peck | DPL DAMS.””Adler & Adler, photos, 4215 Russell, Detroit, Mich.”
Details Accessed November 5, 2019.

Fannie B. Peck founded Detroit’s Housewives’ League for the betterment of African-American women in poor standings and the upthrust of black owned groceries and markets inspired by Booker T. Washington’s National Negro League. Their slogan “Buy, Boost, Build,” reached thousands of women in Chicago and soon spread to cities like New York, Washington D.C., and Ohio. Through their work and activism, they boycotted “locally to convince neighborhood busi­ness to hire Black employees.”(BOYD, HERB.,New York Amsterdam News. 6/29/2017, Vol. 108 Issue 26, p28-28. 3/4p)

“Housewives League of Detroit Boosters | DPL DAMS.”Theus Photo Service, 4580 Hastings, Detroit.” Accessed November 5, 2019.

Though these organizations were similar in nature, both held different ideals and morals when it came to race, class, and the overall development of their respected cities.

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