As part of Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LBP)’s Louisiana: The State We’re In, André Moreau interviewed Assistant Curator of Manuscripts Melissa Smith in spring 2019 on the life and times of Baton Rouge composer and businesswoman Doralice Fontane (1905-1980), whose papers are housed in the Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections of LSU Libraries’ Special Collections.
The interview features Smith detailing Fontane’s connection to Eleanor Roosevelt as part of Fontane’s international campaign for peace. Moreau notes that the papers also include correspondence with influential government officials such as former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, Generalissimo Francisco Franco of Spain, and other various international ambassadors and intergovernmental organizations. Smith further describes how Fontane’s peace campaign led to the LSU band performing for the United Nations “Let’s March Together (The People of the World),” an international hymn for peace that Fontane created during the Korean War, for the United Nations.
A graduate of LSU in 1927, Fontane is most well-known for the adoption of her song “Give Me Louisiana” as an official state song of Louisiana in 1970. She was a prolific composer who taught piano, voice, and personality singing and served on the faculty of Sacred Heart School in Baton Rouge. Upon her death, she bequeathed her papers to LSU Libraries’ Special Collections, which it received in 1982. The papers consist primarily of letters from Fontane promoting her music and acknowledgments from the various individuals who were given complimentary copies of her song, “Let’s March Together (People of the World).”
The interview can be found at Louisiana Public Broadcasting’s website through The Life of Doralice Fontane. Access to the papers can be requested through LSU Libraries’ catalog via the Doralice Fontane Papers (1910-1980).