Alcée Fortier

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Alcée Fortier
Alcée Fortier in 1893
Alcée Fortier in 1893
Born June 5, 1856
St. James Parish, Louisiana
Died February 14, 1914(1914-02-14) (aged 57)
Resting place St. Louis Cemetery, New Orleans
Years active 1880-1914
Spouse(s) Marie Lanauze
Parent(s) Florent Louis Fortier
Edwige Aimé

Alcée Fortier (June 5, 1856 – February 14, 1914) was a renowned Professor of Romance Languages at Tulane University in New Orleans. In the late 19th and early 20th century, he published numerous works on language, literature, Louisiana history and folklore, Louisiana Creole languages, and personal reminiscence. His perspective was valuable because of his French Creole 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.[1][2]

Early life and education[edit]

Fortier was born in St. James Parish, on the plantation of his grandfather Valcour Aime, Petit Versailles Plantation. He was the son of Florent Louis Fortier and Edwige Aime. His father and grandfathers were sugar cane planters of French Creole ancestry. The Fortier family had been in the Louisiana territory since the early 17th century. His maternal grandfather was Valcour Aime, 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.[2]

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 Virginia. 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 University. 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 Creoles, Acadians and Isleños; Creole folk tales in translation; and in 1903 a four-volume history of Louisiana that was well reviewed by the New York Times.[3]

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).[1][2]

Marriage and family[edit]

On October 22, 1881, Fortier married Marie Lanauze, daughter of Adolphe Lanauze and Augustine Henriette Ferrand. The first commercial tenant in the Pontalba Buildings was Adolphe Lanauze, a native of France who was a hardware merchant. Today, this shop houses the 1850 Museum gift shop.[2] They had eight children.

Selected bibliography[edit]


  • Sept Grand Auteurs du XIXme Siècle
  • Histoire de la Littérature Française
  • Louisiana Folk Tales: In French Dialect and English Translation, 1894[4]
  • A History of Louisiana, 1903

Papers presented to the Modern Language Association:[2]

  • "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[edit]

Fortier was significant in the study of French language and literature in Louisiana and the United States, as well as the study of Louisiana Creole dialects - he did work in Louisiana Creole, 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


  1. ^ a b King, Grace Elizabeth (1921). Creole families of New Orleans. New York: Macmillan. pp. 461–465. Retrieved 22 August 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Alcee Fortier". Biographical and Historical Memoires of Louisiana. 1. Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Company. 1892. pp. 420–421. Retrieved 22 August 2013.
  3. ^ "Prof. Alcee Fortier's Scholarly History in Artistic Settings" (PDF). The New York Times. New York: NYTC. March 26, 1904. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 22 August 2013.
  4. ^ "New Publications : Louisiana Folk Tales. In French Dialect and English Translation" (PDF). The New York Times. New York: NYTC. April 3, 1895. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 22 August 2013.

External links[edit]