New Orleans’ Girl Problems: The House of the Good Shepherd and the Origins of Juvenile Justice

Jessica Calvanico
Feminist Studies
UC Santa Cruz

In 1873, the House of the Good Shepherd of New Orleans opened its doors to girls convicted of sexual delinquency in the Crescent City. For nearly a century, it was the only institution of its kind in the city, and the only one in the US South that admitted all girls, regardless of race, nationality, ethnicity, or religion. This dissertation explores the mysterious and overlooked history of the House of the Good Shepherd to understand how the House of the Good Shepherd came to shape both juvenile justice and girlhood in New Orleans. In doing so, the research explores how religion and the law have coalesced to create an institution of American girlhood and the implications this creation has on girls’ sexualities, racial identities, ethnicities, class backgrounds, and nationalities today.