Each year the Louisiana Association of Museum (LAM) recognizes an elected or appointed official who has demonstrated special or sustained, significant support of Louisiana museums and historic sites. This year the 2004 winner is Councilwoman Joanne Bourgeois of Brusly.
Joanne’s first career was 35 years of teaching West Baton Rouge 5th & 6th grade Language Art students WHILE raising 4 sons, Andy, Tony, Russ and Alec.
In 1974 Joanne served on the Bicentennial committee, which published the parish’s first documented history in 1976, The Chronicles of West Baton Rouge.
When Brusly began plans in 1996 for their 2001 Centennial, Joanne joined the group attending the LSU T. Harry Williams Oral History Center to learn the proper techniques to gather oral histories. She began right away interviewing Brusly citizens about their memories.
In 2000, Joanne was elected into her second career, a Town of Brusly Councilwoman.
By the time the 2001 Brusly Centennial plans were being formulated, Joanne had conducted 45 oral history interviews and gathered photos and many mementos from local citizens.
Joanne along with two other local authors and an editor, published the 137 page Centennial keepsake book, Brusly: 1901-2001: A Place to Call Home. This same oral interview information was the basis of components of the Centennial Genealogy exhibit and an exhibit that Joanne helped to co-curate at the West Baton Rouge Museum. Through her personal interviews and love of education, Joanne created a Brusly Education slide show, which was not only viewed by the Centennial Senior citizens, but has been a focal point at a West Baton Rouge Genealogical Society meeting.
As councilwoman, Joanne has worked to obtain funding for two State of Louisiana historic markers:
Charles P. Adams, founder of Grambling State University, from Brusly;
and Original Brusly High School.
Joanne has also worked with West Baton Rouge Historical Association to gather information and secure French translation for the historic marker recently erected to honor Brusly as the oldest parish settlement.
Joanne is a long-time member of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church and contributes her time to serve on many committees such as Religious Formation & Lector.
Joanne is a lifetime member of the West Baton Rouge (WBR) Historical Association; A WBR Genealogical Society member; currently serving her second 3-year term on the WBR Museum Board and serves as Board Secretary; Member of the WBR Garden & Civic Club and serves as Chairman of the Cleanest City campaigns; long-standing member of the WBR Library Board and Louisiana Library Association; and Member of both the Louisiana Association of Museum and the Louisiana Municipal Association.
Joanne continues to serve as a panelist for the Decentralized Arts for a 5-parish area (7th year).
Joanne’s ongoing projects include working to:
Preserve Town of Brusly historical records;
Preserve the Back Brusly Oak tree, the Town’s symbol;
Provide educational tours for French students from St. Joseph’s Academy in Baton Rouge;
and still continues to conduct parish oral histories for our Museum.
Joanne remains a strong supporter of both Parish Museum and Historical Association organizations, fulfilling their missions in many ways, and working to achieve American Association of Museum accreditation for our Museum.
Joanne is being recognized for her many years of dedicated support of museums and historic sites in West Baton Rouge, a place she calls Home.
Documented by Genie Hendry
West Baton Rouge Historical Association & Museum Boards
September 18, 2004
This West Baton Rouge parish group traveled to the new Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette to see Brusly Councilwoman, Joanne Bourgeois, accept her award from the Louisiana Association of Museum (LAM) for 2004 Public Official of the Year.
Front row (kneeling): Andrea Normand, WBR Museum Director/LAM President Caroline Kennedy and Walter Landry
Back row (standing): Ron Hendry, WBR Museum Education Curator Jeannie Giroir-Luckett, WBR Museum Curator Neal Williams, Brusly Mayor Joey Normand, Tony Bourgeois, Genie Hendry, Janna Miller, Chris “Fish” Kershaw, Honoree Brusly Councilwoman Joanne Bourgeois, Arlen Landry and Lucy Landry.