Marlene Trestman - MOST FORTUNATE UNFORTUNATES - in conversation with Lawrence N. Powell

Join us when author Marlene Trestman presents and signs her new book, MOST FORTUNATE UNFORTUNATES: The Jewish Orphans’ Home of New Orleans. She will appear in conversation with historian Lawrence N. Powell, author of The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans and Troubled Memory.

MOST FORTUNATE UNFORTUNATES is the first comprehensive history of the Jewish Orphans’ Home of New Orleans. Founded in 1855 in the aftermath of a yellow fever epidemic, the Home was the first purpose-built Jewish orphanage in the nation. It reflected the city’s affinity for religiously operated orphanages and the growing prosperity of its Jewish community. In 1904, the orphanage opened the Isidore Newman School, a coed, nonsectarian school that also admitted children, regardless of religion, whose parents paid tuition. By the time the Jewish Orphans’ Home closed in 1946, it had sheltered more than sixteen hundred parentless children and two dozen widows from New Orleans and other areas of Louisiana and the mid-South.

Based on deep archival research and numerous interviews of alumni and their descendants, Most Fortunate Unfortunates provides a view of life in the Jewish Orphans’ Home for the children and women who lived there. The study also traces the forces that impelled the Home’s founders and leaders—both the heralded men and otherwise overlooked women—to create and maintain the institution that Jews considered the “pride of every Southern Israelite.” While Trestman celebrates the Home’s many triumphs, she also delves deeply into its failures.

“What’s remarkable about Marlene Trestman’s Most Fortunate Unfortunates is its ability to shift scope, from the intricate details of a New Orleans institutional history—complete with names, faces, personalities, and incidents hitherto forgotten—to regional, national, and even international contexts.” -Richard Campanella, author of Cityscapes of New Orleans

Marlene Trestman grew up in New Orleans as a client of the Jewish Children’s Regional Service, the successor to the Jewish Orphans’ Home. A former special assistant to Maryland’s attorney general, Trestman is the author of FAIR LABOR LAWYER: The Remarkable Life of New Deal Attorney and Supreme Court Advocate Bessie Margolin.

Lawrence N. Powell, is professor emeritus of history at Tulane University where he previously held the James H. Clark Endowed Chair in American Civilization. His critically acclaimed book, THE ACCIDENTAL CITY: Improvising New Orleans  covers the first 150 years of New Orleans history. He the author of  the award-winning book, TROUBLED MEMORY: Anne Levy, the Holocaust, and David Duke's Louisiana.


Event date: 

Sunday, October 29, 2023 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm

Event address: 

Octavia Books - 513 Octavia Street
New Orleans, 70115
Most Fortunate Unfortunates: The Jewish Orphans' Home of New Orleans By Marlene Trestman Cover Image
ISBN: 9780807172902
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: LSU Press - October 18th, 2023

Please pre-order now. To request a signed copy, write "signed copy, attending" or "signed copy, not attending" in the comments area during checkout.

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