Every time I walk under the arcade across the street from the Luxembourg Palace on rue Vaugirard, I look for this photographic portrait of Eugenie Eboué-Tell in a window that displays photos, documents, and other relics of Le Sénat (the French Senate).
© Discover Paris!
The first time I saw this portrait, I was not only intrigued by the dignified air exuded by the sitter, but also by her name. Eboué is the last name of the French colonial leader Félix Eboué, brilliant colonial administrator for the French government and supporter of Charles de Gaulle during the Resistance in World War II as the governor-general of French Equatorial Africa. I wondered if the two could be related.
It took little time to find the connection between Eugénie and Félix - they were married.
Eboué-Tell's full maiden name was Charlotte Andrée Eugénie Tell. She was born in Cayenne, French Guiana in 1891 and became a teacher there. Moving to French Equatorial Africa with her husband, she joined the Free French Forces during the Second World War and served as nurse in a military hospital in Brazzaville. She was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Medaille de la Résistance for her efforts. She would eventually be named a Commandeur in the Legion of Honor.
Her political life began in 1944 when she joined the Section Française de l'Internationale Ouvrière (French Section of the Workers' International), a Socialist party. Subsequently, she served as the deputy for Guadeloupe in the National Assembly in 1945 and 1946, being elected both times with a clear majority of votes. In 1946, she was elected conseillère de la République (the equivalent of Senator under the 3rd and 5th French Republics) and became a member of the National Education Commission and the Commission of the Interior. Re-elected in 1948, her title was changed to sénatrice.
Eboué-Tell became vice president of France's Overseas Commission in 1951. She left the Senate in 1952 and became vice president of the French Union Assembly. She failed at a bid to return to the National Assembly in 1956, but was elected conseillère in the municipality of Asnières (a Paris suburb) in 1958. A complete listing of her political activities, accomplishments, and honors (in French) can be found on the Web sites of the French National Assembly and the French Senate.
Eugénie Eboué-Tell died in Pontoise (a Paris suburb) in 1972. Rue Eugénie Eboué - an impasse in Paris' 12th arrondissement - was named after her in 1977.
Screenshot from Google Maps