Lucile Levy Hutton was a prominent participant in New Orleans’ vibrant music circles and illustrious educator with a career spanning 46 years in Orleans Parish public schools. Born May 9, 1897, Lucile L. Hutton received her education at Straight College, attending from elementary through normal school. She received her teaching degree in 1916 and began teaching at McDonogh 32 Elementary School in the Algiers section of New Orleans. The following year, she moved to Valena C. Jones Elementary School, where she continued teaching for 12 years.
Considered to be an exemplary teacher by her colleagues, including Fannie C. Williams, principal of Valena C. Jones School and Superintendent Nicholas Bauer of the Orleans Parish School Board, Lucile Hutton was awarded two year leave of absence to attend college. She studied music at the Oberlin College Conservatory, earning her Bachelor’s in 1933. She returned to New Orleans as an instructor at the Valena C. Jones Normal School.
In 1939, the Orleans Parish School Board withdrew from the teacher-training program when a new state law required a baccalaureate degree in education for certification of teachers in Louisiana, causing the Jones Normal School to close. The following August, Lucile Hutton was appointed as a consultant in vocal music for the New Orleans public schools, a position she held for 23 years until her retirement in 1962. Hutton served all of the New Orleans’ African American schools, even traveling to the small rural schools like Lee Station (which was later replaced by McDonogh 40) and as far south as Cut Off (sometimes spelled Cut-Off), Louisiana. She earned her Master’s of Music (MM) degree from Northwestern University (Illinois) in 1948.
Ms. Hutton was a teacher’s teacher, fulfilling a supervisory role for the school district. When Hutton began her work as vocal music consultant, she was only teacher certified to teach high school music. Upon retirement, every high school had a teacher certified in vocal music and several had two.
Outside of her public school teaching career, she taught private piano lessons and was an actively involved in civic, religious, and cultural activities throughout New Orleans. Some of her community memberships include the New Orleans Y.W.C.A., the B Sharp Music Club, and the Friends of the Amistad Research Center to name a few. She was also an active member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority from her time in college through her retirement, involved with the Dillard University Alumni Association, and the Historian for the Central Congregational United Church of Christ.
Lucile Levy Hutton was undoubtedly a remarkable woman. Her legacy is a hallmark of civic aptitude and her papers illustrate her important role as a pillar in the New Orleans community. Her collection contains documents relating to school musical events, documents relating to various social organizations in which she was involved, numerous photographs of her family and social life in 20th century New Orleans, and a history of the Central Congregation Church, titled This is a Grand Work. The full finding aid to her papers is available on our online finding aid database.
Images are from the Lucile Hutton papers and B Sharp Music Club records. Amistad Research Center’s website, newsletters, and blogs may not be reproduced without permission.