When 11 Ursuline nuns arrived in New Orleans in 1727—at which point the French colonial city was a raw settlement just nine years old—they established a school for girls. It educated not just European children but also slaves, Native Americans, and free girls of color. It continues to operate today, the oldest Catholic school in America. The Ursulines also created a hospital, which nursed 30-40 patients at any given moment, in a place and time when other medical attention was virtually nonexistent.
In 1729 the nuns set up an orphanage (originally to take care of children who survived the Indian massacre of settlers at Fort Rosalie that year). Over a period of years it fed, cared for, and trained up hundreds of children who had no other protectors or resource. The nuns were supported by the French and New World church, and by donations from merchants and residents.
- James Zacharie, New Orleans Guide (Hansell, 1893)