While no scientific field has ever been an easy profession for women, botany was for many centuries one of the most accessible. An interest in plants and flowers was seen as a proper womanly pursuit, and a girl or woman with access to a garden, yard, or a patch of grass had at hand many subjects for observation and experimentation. Determined female botanists financed their own expeditions, achieved degrees at universities where they were the only woman in a group of men, or leveraged their floral knowledge and artistic skills into positions at important gardens and preserves. Some of these women were the very first to study and document botanical specimens from distant locations or past eras. Even when the continued development of botanical science as a profession resulted in women's work in the field being overlooked or dismissed as frivolous, women continued to use this 'feminine' interest as way to fulfill their own intellectual pursuits, educate others, and establish careers.
Drawn from the Rare Books collection's range of materials on natural history, this exhibit provides a look at the life and works of a few of the 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century women who made the world of flora their profession and their passion.
For the first time since the 1980s, the students of Newcomb Music Department will produce a fully staged opera in March 2018 under the direction of Amy Pfrimmer. Despite the long hiatus, there is a century's long tradition of opera at Tulane University, beginning in the 1910s with the first annual production of a Gilbert & Sullivan opera. Although a period often overlooked in the history of opera at Tulane, opera production blossomed in the 1950s under the leadership of Cardon V. Burnham, who created the Tulane Opera Workshop program that ultimately served as the foundation for all future opera productions at Tulane and that played a roll in the early years of Summer Lyric Theatre. The Opera Workshop was sustained in the 1960s by performances of new operas by then faculty member Charles Hamm, who launched his career as an acclaimed and pivotal musicologist here at Tulane. The program was later revived by long time director Frank Monachino, who sustained the program until a sudden loss of significant funding in 1985 led to the closure of Opera Workshop.
The history of Tulane Opera Workshop outline here is based on materials found in University Archives, the Jambalaya Yearbook, and reporting by The Times-Picayune. If you have concert programs, photographs, newspaper clippings, or any other materials that bear evidence of opera performances at Tulane, we'd love to hear from you. Please contact University Archives at (504) 865-5691.