Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

History

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

On January 1, 1950 Nashville tourist Robert Dunn died after a long night of drinking on Bourbon St. An investigation ruled the death a homicide. That determination marked the beginning of a decade-long effort by prominent New Orleans residents, civic, and business organizations to pressure Mayor deLesseps S. Morrison and the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) to rid the French Quarter of those deemed “undesirable.” Reformers aimed to make the French Quarter friendly for residents, tourists and businessmen who attended conventions. Throughout the 1950s, three committees were created that were comprised of local residents and businessmen to investigate the issues facing the French Quarter and create recommendations to help solve the problem. The first focused on vice crimes in the French Quarter, the second on police corruption, and the third on homosexual activities in the city. All three committees shared a tendency to scapegoat women and homosexuals for the many problems facing the neighborhood.

This dissertation examines these committees, which were predominately comprised of white males who pushed to reduce the visibility of women and homosexuals in public. They also fought an effort by city officials to preserve a status quo that considered certain types of vice as a part of the tourism industry. The committees’ main targets were B-girls, barmaids, prostitutes, and homosexuals, who were considered easy targets due to their disreputable standing in society. The efforts promoted by these committees would set the stage for a much larger cleanup effort in the 1960s that completely disrupted the status quo, leading to what could be seen as a victory for those who sought the initial clean up.

Date

7-21-2021

Committee Chair

Long, Alecia P.

Share

COinS