Edith Garland Dupre
Edith Garland Dupre was a leading intellectual, civic, and religious leader in Lafayette in the early twentieth century.
Edith Dupré was a leading intellectual, civic, and religious figure in Lafayette in the early twentieth century. She was among the first eight faculty members of the Southwestern Louisiana Industrial Institute (SLI), now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. A graduate of Sophie Newcomb College in 1900, she was professor and head of the English Department at SLI. She also oversaw the operation and development of the library from 1901 to 1920. Dupré Library at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is named in her honor.
Edith Garland Dupré was born June 1, 1881, on Garland Plantation near Opelousas, the home of her maternal grandparents. Her father, Laurent Dupré, was a prominent attorney of French and Acadian descent. Her mother, Marie Céleste Garland Dupré, descended from a Virginia family related to the John Adams family of Massachusetts. After graduating from Newcomb College, Dupré received a master’s degree from Cornell University in 1908. She also took graduate courses at other major universities such as New York University and Johns Hopkins University.
During her years at SLI, Dupré founded the Attakapas Literary and Debate Society for young men and the Avatar Debate Society for young women. She believed that the primary purpose of education was training character and worked tirelessly to develop the minds and culture of her students. She also oversaw the college newspaper, the yearbook, the literary magazine, the drama club, and the honors program.
Outside the academy, Dupré was a tireless civic and religious leader who sought to improve life in southwestern Louisiana. She helped found the Public Forum in Lafayette, a group that promoted the social and civic life of the region. During both world wars, she worked abroad. In 1918, she volunteered to do canteen service in Rome with the Newcomb unit of the Y.W.C.A. She also led local and state civilian defense work during World War II. A devout Catholic, she founded the Newman Club and the Catholic Student Center at SLI. Her religious efforts were recognized by Pope Pius XII when, in 1943, he conferred on her the highest honor paid to laypersons, the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice award. Dupré died in Lafayette on October 17, 1970.