Third Coast Books Receive LEH Award

The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH) recognized two outstanding historical works as 2017 Books of the Year. Both are part of Louisiana Sea Grant’s Third Coast Series. The titles are:

  • Teche: A History of Louisiana’s Most Famous Bayou, by Shane K. Bernard.
  • Hard Scrabble to Hallelujah, Volume 1: Legacies of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, by Christopher Everette Cenac, with Claire Domangue Joller.

Teche examines this legendary waterway of the American Deep South. Bernard delves into the bayou’s history – both its geologic formation as a vestige of the Mississippi and Red Rivers and its cultural significance as a settlement for prehistoric Native Americans and French, Spanish, and, eventually, Anglo-American pioneers. He surveys the coming of indigo, cotton and sugar; steam-powered sugar mills and riverboats; and the brutal institution of slavery. He also details the impact of the Civil War on the Teche, depicting the running battles up and down the bayou and the sporadic gunboat duels, when ironclads clashed in the narrow confines of the dark, sluggish waterway.

A Cajun from Lafayette, Bernard holds degrees in English and History from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and a doctorate in History from Texas A&M University. Bernard serves as historian and curator to the McIlhenny Co., maker of Tabasco brand products since 1868.

Hard Scrabble is the first time that known history and new information have been combined into a single written record about one of the most important eras in the coastal bayou parish of Terrebonne. The book makes clear the unique geographical, topographical and sociological conditions that beckoned the first settlers who developed the large sugar plantations. This first of four planned volumes chronicles the founders and their estates along Bayou Terrebonne, from its headwaters to its most southerly reaches near the Gulf of Mexico.

Dr. Cenac is a practicing orthopedic surgeon in Houma and has served as Terrebonne Parish coroner. Joller is a Terrebonne Parish native and received awards from the National Catholic Press Association and the Louisiana Press Association for her newspaper columns.

Both books can be purchased from the University Press of Mississippi at The Third Coast Series is designed to publish research outside the realm of peer-reviewed academic journals. These book-length formats are aimed at policy makers, coastal residents and the general public.

LEH is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities to all residents of the state. Its mission is to provide access to and an appreciation of Louisiana’s rich, shared and diverse historical, literary and cultural heritage through: grant-supported outreach programs; early childhood education, family literacy and adult reading initiatives; teacher professional development institutes; publications; film and radio documentaries; museum exhibitions; public lectures; library projects; Louisiana Cultural Vistas magazine, and other diverse public humanities programming. For more information on the organization, visit