In 1938, the Jazz great Jelly Roll Morton sat down at the Library of Congress with folklorist Alan Lomax to record his memories and experiences in Jazz and old New Orleans. He matter-of-factly noted that “everybody in the city of New Orleans was always organization-minded,” referring to the scores of social and benevolent societies which existed in the city. These organizations, often formed around a common religious, occupational, neighborhood, or social bond, and offered both tangible and intangible benefits, such as medical and prescription assistance and the opportunity to exercise leadership and exert collective effort.
On 23 December 1912, seven ladies went before notary and civil rights leader Louis André Martinet, to charter the Notre Dame des Sept Douleurs Société de Bienfaisance et d’Assistance Mutuelle (Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows Benevolent and Mutual Aid Association). These ladies were:
- Marie Eva Patin Lebeau
- Cecelia Major Hebert
- Marie Bousquet Bernard
- Marcelite Braud Bousquet
- Marie Adolores Boutte Deruize
- Marceline LeBlanc Bibolet
- Elmire Boutte
Invoking the patronage of the Blessed Mother under her title of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows, they soon acquired a large society tomb in Saint Louis Cemetery No. 3 on Esplanade Avenue.
Among those buried in the Sept Douleurs tomb is Arthur Gustave Chapital, son of Marie Bousquet Bernard, who was a member of the New Orleans Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People from 1939 until his death in 1969. He was first elected to its executive board in 1941 and from then on served diligently as Branch President and later Executive Secretary.
Shown above are the signatures from the society’s charter, which is recorded in the notarial acts of Louis André Martinet at the New Orleans Notarial Archives.
Source: N. O. Notarial Archives, L. A. Martinet, Volume 7, Act 21.