Sophie B. Wright began her life’s work as an educator when she was only fourteen years old, opening a day school for girls in a spare room in her family home in 1880. Her career in education grew to include operating the Home Institute, a day and boarding school for girls. Within the institute’s facilities, she also operated a free night school for working men and boys.

In addition to her career in education, Wright worked as the state secretary for the King’s Daughters and Sons, a Christian charitable organization. It was in this role that Wright helped open the Home for Incurables, a care facility for disabled children in New Orleans, and the Rest Awhile, a retreat for underprivileged women and children in Mandeville.

In 1903 Wright was awarded the Daily Picayune’s Loving Cup, an award given annually to celebrate the philanthropic work of a local New Orleanian. Wright was the third person and first woman to receive the award. Shortly before her death in 1912, the Sophie B. Wright School, a high school for girls, was named in her honor. Following her death, a park on Magazine Street, near the former site of the Home Institute, was also named in her honor. A statue of her, sculpted by Enrique Alférez, was erected in the park, and an adjacent street was renamed Sophie Wright Place. 

Sophie B. Wright

ca. 1896; collodion print

The Historic New Orleans Collection, gift of Mrs. James Craig Roth, 1981.307.6

Sophie B. Wright (back row, far right) with the Home Institute senior class of 1895

1895; gelatin silver print

by W. H. Burgess

The Historic New Orleans Collection, gift of Mrs. James Craig Roth, 1981.307.4

Letter from students to Sophie B. Wright

June 8, 1899

courtesy of the Sophie B. Wright Collection, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University

Letter from Sophie B. Wright to her student Miss A. Raymond

October 4, 1911

The Historic New Orleans Collection, 91-15-L.8.1

Rest Awhile scrapbook 

ca. 1915

courtesy of Old Mandeville Historical Association