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Alcée Fortier (June 5, 1856 – 1914) was a renowned Professor of Romance Languages at Tulane Universitymarker in New Orleansmarker. In the late 19th and early 20th century, he published numerous works on language, literature, Louisiana history and folklore, Louisiana Créole languages, and personal reminiscence. His perspective was valuable because of his French Créole ancestry. He was president of the Modern Language Association and Louisiana Historical Society, was appointed to the State Board of Education, and was active in the American Folklore Society and the New Orleans Academy of Sciences.

Early life and education

Fortier was born June 5, 1856, in St. James Parish, the son of Florent Fortier and Edwige Aimé. His father and grandfathers were sugar cane planters of French Créole ancestry. The Fortier family had been in the Louisiana territory since the early 17th century. His maternal grandfather was Valcour Aimé, who also had a sugar cane plantation in St. James Parish. The families were prominent in the social and political life of the parish and the state.

Fortier's life was marked by the interruption of the American Civil War, and his family's abrupt changes in fortune following the war. He completed classes at the classical school of A.V. Romain in New Orleans and entered the University of Virginiamarker. Serious illness prevented him from completing his studies there. Fortier returned to New Orleans and read law, then started working as a clerk.


Fortier taught French in the city high school, then became principal in the preparatory department of the University of Louisiana.

In 1880 Fortier was elected professor of French in the University of Louisiana, and was reelected when it became Tulane Universitymarker. He worked as a Professor of Romance Languages there his entire career, but expanded his studies to include Louisiana Creole, Acadian French, and Louisiana folklore of both Acadians and freedmen, as well as European languages.

Fortier was a prolific author, publishing a range of studies on the French literature of Louisiana and France; dialect studies of Louisiana Créoles, Acadians and Isleños; Créole folk tales in translation; and in 1903 a four-volume history of Louisiana that was well reviewed by the New York Times.

He was also active in a range of new local, state, and national professional organizations. He was president of the Modern Language Association (founded 1883) and Louisiana Historical Society (1835), was appointed to the State Board of Education, and was active in the American Folklore Society (founded 1888) and the New Orleans Academy of Sciences (1859).

Marriage and family

On Oct. 22, 1881 Fortier married Marie Lanauze. They had eight children.

Selected bibliography


  • Sept Grand Auteurs du XIXme Siècle
  • Histoire de la Littérature Française
  • Louisiana Folk Tales: In French Dialect and English Translation, 1894
  • A History of Louisiana, 1903

Papers presented to the Modern Language Association:
  • "The French Language in Louisiana and the Negro-French Dialect"
  • "The French Literature of Louisiana"
  • "Bits of Louisiana Folk Lore", 1887
  • "The Acadians of Louisiana and Their Dialect"
  • "The Yalinos [Isleños] of Louisiana and Their Dialect"

Legacy and honors

Fortier was significant in the study of French language and literature in Louisiana and the United States, as well as the study of Louisiana Créole dialects - he did work in Louisiana Créole, Cajun and Isleño forms. By publishing folk tales in Louisiana Creole and English, he honored the origin of the stories in African heritage, as well as making the stories more accessible to larger audiences.

His name is remembered in New Orleans:
  • Alcée Fortier Hall, Tulane University
  • Alcée Fortier High School
  • Alcée Fortier Street, in New Orleans East
  • Alcée Fortier Park at Esplanade Avenue and Mystery Street


External links

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