Winter 2019 McKendree Magazine


Research, papers and articles by the late Dr. Betsy Gordon are now in the Libraries and Special Collections of Louisiana State University (LSU), where she received her Ph.D. in speech communication and rhetoric.

Recognized as a landmark study, her 1991 dissertation, “The Rhetoric of Community Ritual: The Blessing of the Shrimp Fleet at Chauvin, Louisiana,” was archived previously in LSU’s Hill Research Library. She interviewed local residents and observed their preparations and performance of the annual blessing and boat parade held in the Cajun community.

“Dr. Gordon’s work details not only how this time-honored ritual changed since its inception in the 1920s to the present day, but also its importance to the community along the Little Caillou Bayou,” said Melissa Smith, assistant curator of manuscripts at LSU. “The notes and images within these papers will offer future researchers a wealth of information documenting a ritual and community currently threatened by coastline erosion and climate change and how Dr. Gordon captured this unique slice of Louisiana life.”

Interview tapes, slides, additional journal articles and a copy of her master’s thesis were also sent to LSU. Dr. Gordon, who taught speech communication at McKendree for 27 years before her retirement last year, passed away on Sept. 21, 2018.