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Sybil Morial papers

Identifier: 752

Content Description

The papers of educator, activist and New Orleans community leader, Sybil Morial consist of correspondence from various local and national organizations requesting Morial’s participation in fundraising, conferences, and events.

The papers also document her work on many boards and committees for various organizations, including Advocates for Science and Mathematics Foundation; ACT (All Congregations Together) New Orleans Interfaith Sponsoring Committee; the Youth and The Arts National Committee; HMO Louisiana, Inc. and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Louisiana; The Public Law Center; PICO National Network; the Southern Institute for Education and Research; and many others. Of note are conference materials and board minutes for the International Women’s Forum (IWF) Leadership Foundation and the Louisiana Women’s Forum, an affiliate of the IWF. The papers also contain materials which reflect Morial’s work with asthma related organizations and events following her husband’s death from complications related to his asthma. These organizations include the National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine, National Jewish Hospital and Research Center National Asthma Center, and National Jewish Medical and Research Center

Also within the papers is documentation regarding Morial’s work as president and chair of the I’ve Known Rivers Afro-American Pavilion Louisiana World Exposition (1982-1985), as well as materials relating to Ernest N. “Dutch” Morial’s campaign for New Orleans Mayor in 1976 and papers relating to his administration.

The papers also contain a collection of family photographs (circa 1980s), in addition to Beta, VHS, and U-matic videotapes from Mayor Ernest N. Morial’s inauguration and addresses, as well as Sybil Morial’s lectures and speeches at various venues. Individual items of note include a report titled, Judge Ernest N. Morial Political Prospectus (for Mayor of New Orleans): A Campaign Report by Robert H. Mehaffy, February 19, 1977 and a program for the Inauguration of Ernest Nathan Morial Mayor, City of New Orleans, May 1, 1978.


  • Other: 1957-2016


Biographical / Historical

Sybil Morial, educator, activist and community leader in New Orleans, Louisiana

Sybil Gayle Haydel (1932- ) was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Eudora Arnaud and Clarence C. Haydel, the second of four children. She was educated in the parochial schools of New Orleans and graduated from Xavier University Preparatory High School. She attended Xavier University of Louisiana before transferring to Boston University and graduating with a bachelor of science degree in elementary education in 1952. She earned a master’s in education from Boston University in 1955. She taught in the Newton Public School System in Newton, Massachusetts and, after receiving her master’s, taught in the Baltimore Public School System in Baltimore, Maryland for one year. From 1959 to 1971, she worked in the Orleans Parish School System in New Orleans, Louisiana. In 1977, she became the director of the Special Services Program at Xavier University.

In 1954, she married Ernest N. “Dutch” Morial, a prominent civil rights lawyer who was later elected as the first African American mayor of the city of New Orleans in 1977. They have five children: Jacques, Marc, Julie, Cheri and Monique. As First Lady of New Orleans Sybil Morial continued in her efforts against illiteracy, addressed the high infant mortality rate in the city and also lent her support to the proposed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).

A community activist, Morial has served on numerous boards and committees that focus on women’s professional advocacy, education and civic engagement. She is a member of the International Women’s Forum Leadership Foundation and the affiliated Louisiana Women’s Forum. Other organizations that she has served over the years include The Links, Inc.; Advocates for Science and Mathematics Foundation; the Youth and the Arts National Committee; HMO Louisiana, Inc. and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Louisiana; The Louisiana League of Good Government; The Public Law Center; PICO National Network; and the Southern Institute for Education and Research, among others. Morial also served as president and chair of the I’ve Known Rivers Afro-American Pavilion at the Louisiana World Exposition (1982-1985). She is also a longtime board member of the Amistad Research Center in New Orleans.

In 2015, she published a memoir, Witness to Change: From Jim Crow to Political Empowerment, which details her fight against segregation and racism in New Orleans. She wrote the memoir during her eight-year displacement following Hurricane Katrina.


13.0 Linear Feet

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Related Materials

The Sybil Morial papers are closely related to the papers of her husband Ernest N. "Dutch" Morial and the papers of her son, Marc Morial. Both collections are housed at the Amistad Research Center.

Condition Description

Fair condition with some water damage.


Video recordings within the collection are not available at time please contact the Research Services Department at or (504) 862-3222 for more information.

Processing Information

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (MH-245560-OMS-20).



Sybil Morial papers
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Repository Details

Part of the Amistad Research Center Repository

6823 Saint Charles Avenue
Tilton Hall, Tulane University
New Orleans LA 70118 US
(504) 862-3222
(504) 862-8961 (Fax)