This book is the first definitive, descriptive history of the Charity Hospital System of Louisiana to be published in a single volume. It is a story of how poverty, politics, public health, public interest, race, gender, and class, shaped the long history of one of the most storied public healthcare systems in the state and nation. The lack of a definitive published history of such a monumental and enduring system of acute-care hospitals was a major factor in the decision to write this book. A second factor was the inspiration derived from the work of the late John Salvaggio, a charity physician, who authored an excellent book, entitled "New Orleans' Charity Hospital: A Story of Physicians, Politics, and Poverty." Although Salvaggio's book helped fill the void in the literature on the charity hospitals, it only covered the New Orleans hospital, which is one of ten charity facilities in the state, and focused primarily on the role of physicians in the history of the hospital. Earlier works by A.E.
Fossier ("The Charity Hospital of Louisiana, 1923") and Stellar O'Conner ("The Charity Hospital of Louisiana at New Orleans: An Administrative and Financial History, 1736-1941, 1948") were also excellent works, but only covered a brief span of the history of the New Orleans Charity Hospital. Before his passing, Salvaggio expressed the need for a definitive history of all ten hospitals that comprised the 'great and venerable' Charity Hospital System of Louisiana. However, such an undertaking would be a colossal task requiring the collection, analysis, and assemblage of information from hundreds of public records, reports, documents, books, journals, media articles, and other sources for all ten hospitals, spanning a period of more than 270 years.