In the Creole Twilight: Poems and Songs from Louisiana Folklore

Posted in Anthropology, Books, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Poetry, United States on 2015-11-28 21:50Z by Steven

In the Creole Twilight: Poems and Songs from Louisiana Folklore

Louisiana State University Press
September 2015
88 pages
6.00 x 9.00 inches
30 halftones
Hardcover ISBN: 9780807161548

Joshua Clegg Caffery, Visiting Professor in Folklore
Indiana University, Bloomington

Many recurring motifs found in south Louisiana’s culture spring from the state’s rich folklore. Influenced by settlers of European and African heritage, celebrated customs like the Courir de Mardi Gras and fabled creatures like the Loup-Garou are outgrowths of the region’s distinctive oral traditions. Joshua Clegg Caffery’s In the Creole Twilight draws from this vibrant and diverse legacy to create an accessible reimagining of traditional storytelling and song.

A scholar and Grammy-nominated musician, Caffery borrows from the syllabic structures, rhyme schemes, narratives, and settings that characterize Louisiana songs and tales to create new verse that is both well-researched and refreshingly inventive. Paired with original pen-and-ink illustrations as well as notes that clarify the origins of characters and themes, Caffery’s compositions provide a link to the old worlds of southern Louisiana while constructing an entirely new one.

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The quadroon concubines of New Orleans on Wanton Weekends

Posted in Articles, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-11-28 20:05Z by Steven

The quadroon concubines of New Orleans on Wanton Weekends

Jude Knight
2015-10-25

Jude Knight

In New Orleans at the end of the 18th Century, a wealthy white man would generally live on his plantation with his wife and children, but he would also have a townhouse in New Orleans where his other family lived: his quadroon mistress and the children he had made with her.

To the men and women involved, these marriages de la main gauche (left-handed marriages) were honourable arrangements. The women were faithful to their protectors, and the men were expected to provide for their children. It was what a gentleman did…

Read the entire article here.

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The Quadroon; or, A Lover’s Adventures In Louisiana

Posted in Books, Louisiana, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2015-11-28 02:23Z by Steven

The Quadroon; or, A Lover’s Adventures In Louisiana

Robert M. DeWitt
1856
430 pages

Captain Mayne Reid (1818-1883)

Read the entire book here.

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The History of Race in America Is Not Black and White

Posted in Articles, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2015-11-25 02:10Z by Steven

The History of Race in America Is Not Black and White

History News Network
2015-11-21

Dianne Guenin-Lelle

Dr. Dianne Guenin-Lelle teaches French at Albion College. A specialist in Seventeenth Century French Narrative, Francophone Louisiana and Multicultural Pedagogies, she has published numerous articles and two books, Jeanne Guyon, Selected Writings in the Classics in Western Spirituality Series (2012, co-authored with Ronney Mourad) and The Prison Narratives of Jeanne Guyon (2012, co-authored by Ronney Mourad). Her latest book The Story of French New Orleans: History of a Creole City (University Press of Mississippi) will appear in January.

Despite the racial divide in this country, exemplified by the #blacklivesmatter movement, history shows it does not have to be this way. If we are going to fill this chasm, we should look to the past. A past that we have forgotten too often. Our accepted version of US history is basically that African Americans came to this land to become enslaved by whites and were liberated by the Emancipation Proclamation. While there existed Free People of Color before the Civil War, in this version of history, they managed to escape slavery and move north. This narrative sets up race relations along a “black-white” color line of racial separation, and accompanying opposition around questions of privilege, power and dignity. In the US today many feel a sense of despair that the situation has changed so little over so long, and a kind of hopeless fear that things might never be different…

Read the entire article here.

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Retracing Slavery’s Trail of Tears

Posted in Articles, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2015-10-22 00:02Z by Steven

Retracing Slavery’s Trail of Tears

Smithsonian Magazine
November 2015

Edward Ball, Lecturer in English
Yale University

Edward Ball is the author of five books of nonfiction and a lecturer in English at Yale University. His book, Slaves in the Family (1998) won the National Book Award and was a New York Times bestseller.

America’s forgotten migration – the journeys of a million African-Americans from the tobacco South to the cotton South

When Delores McQuinn was growing up, her father told her a story about a search for the family’s roots.

He said his own father knew the name of the people who had enslaved their family in Virginia, knew where they lived—in the same house and on the same land—in Hanover County, among the rumpled hills north of Richmond.

“My grandfather went to the folks who had owned our family and asked, ‘Do you have any documentation about our history during the slave days? We would like to see it, if possible.’ The man at the door, who I have to assume was from the slaveholding side, said, ‘Sure, we’ll give it to you.’

“The man went into his house and came back out with some papers in his hands. Now, whether the papers were trivial or actual plantation records, who knows? But he stood in the door, in front of my grandfather, and lit a match to the papers. ‘You want your history?’ he said. ‘Here it is.’ Watching the things burn. ‘Take the ashes and get off my land.’…

New Orleans, the biggest slave market in the country, had about 50 people-selling companies in the 1840s. Some whites went to the slave auctions for entertainment. Especially for travelers, the markets were a rival to the French Opera House and the Théâtre d’Orléans.

Today in New Orleans, the number of monuments, markers and historic sites that refer in some way to the domestic slave trade is quite small. I make a first estimate: zero.

“No, that’s not true,” says Erin Greenwald, a curator at the Historic New Orleans Collection. “There is one marker on a wall outside a restaurant called Maspero’s. But what it says is wrong. The slave-trade site it mentions, Maspero’s Exchange, was diagonally across the street from the sandwich place.”…

…Developing the exhibit, Greenwald and her team created a database of names of the enslaved who were shipped from the Eastern states to New Orleans. William Waller and his gang, and other hundreds of thousands arriving by foot, did not leave traces in government records. But people who arrived by ship did.

“We studied hundreds of shipping manifests and compiled data on 70,000 individuals. Of course, that is only some.”

In 1820, the number of ships carrying slaves from Eastern ports into New Orleans was 604. In 1827, it was 1,359. In 1835, it was 4,723. Each carried 5 to 50 slaves.

The auction advertisements at the end of the Slave Trail always said, “Virginia and Maryland Negroes.”

“The words ‘Virginia Negroes’ signaled a kind of brand,” Greenwald says. “It meant compliant, gentle and not broken by overwork.

“One thing that is hard to document but impossible to ignore is the ‘fancy trade.’ New Orleans had a niche market. The ‘fancy trade’ meant women sold as forcible sex partners. They were women of mixed race, invariably. So-called mulatresses.”

Isaac Franklin was all over this market. In 1833, he wrote the office back in Virginia about “fancy girls” he had on hand, and about one in particular whom he wanted. “I sold your fancy girl Alice for $800,” Franklin wrote to Rice Ballard, a partner then in Richmond. “There is great demand for fancy maids, [but] I was disappointed in not finding your Charlottes­ville maid that you promised me.” Franklin told the Virginia office to send the “Charlottesville maid” right away by ship. “Will you send her out or shall I charge you $1,100 for her?”

To maximize her price, Franklin might have sold the “Charlottesville maid” at one of the public auctions in the city. “And the auction setting of choice was a place called the St. Louis Hotel,” Greenwald says, “a block from here.”…

Read the entire article here.

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‘It’s no disgrace to a colored girl to placer’: Sexual Commodification and Negotiation among Louisiana’s “Quadroons,” 1805-1860

Posted in Dissertations, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2015-08-22 01:13Z by Steven

‘It’s no disgrace to a colored girl to placer’: Sexual Commodification and Negotiation among Louisiana’s “Quadroons,” 1805-1860

Ohio State University
2014
284 pages

Noel Mellick Voltz

Doctor of Philosophy in History

In 1805, a New Orleans newspaper advertisement formally defined a new social institution, the infamous Quadroon Ball, in which prostitution and plaçage – a system of concubinage – converged. These balls, limited to white men and light-skinned, free “Quadroon” women, became an interracial rendezvous that provided evening entertainment and the possibility of forming sexual liaisons in exchange for financial “sponsorship.” At these balls, money and other forms of payment were exchanged for the connubial placement of free women of color with wealthy white men.

My dissertation entitled, “‘It’s no disgrace to a colored girl to placer’: Sexual Commodification and Negotiation Among Louisiana’s “Quadroons,” 1805-1860” seeks to understand how free women of color used sex across the colorline as a tool of negotiation in various spaces, like the Quadroon Ballroom, in antebellum Louisiana. More specifically, utilizing contemporary travelers’ journals, newspapers, poems, songs, letters, notarial and ecclesiastical records, court cases and other legal documents, my dissertation examines the sexual agency exerted by Louisiana’s free women of color in four sites of contestation – the body, the ballroom, the courtroom and the sanctuary.

Free women of color occupied a precarious position in antebellum Louisiana, often subjugated because of their race, gender and class; yet, this very positioning also afforded them a space in which to maneuver socially and economically. I contend that in these literal and figurative spaces, these women drew upon their sexuality to make strategic claims to their freedom advancing themselves socially and economically. This work pushes the boundaries of current scholarship engaging questions of sexual agency and trauma, race and identity, hegemonic myth and cultural reappropriation. In so doing, I build upon and push beyond historiographic discussions of the fetishizing and fanticizing gaze of white men and the overly simplistic dichotomous images of the hypersexualized jezebel and the totally victimized yet “respectable” free woman of color. Ultimately, this research illuminates a more nuanced understanding of black female agency in the antebellum era.

For more information, click here.

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Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-06-07 19:00Z by Steven

Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow
Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)
2002

Richard Wormser, Series producer, Co-writer

Jim Crow was not a person, yet affected the lives of millions of people. Named after a popular 19th-century minstrel song that stereotyped African Americans, “Jim Crow” came to personify the system of government-sanctioned racial oppression and segregation in the United States.

In June 7, 1892, 30-year-old Homer Plessy was jailed for sitting in the “White” car of the East Louisiana Railroad. Plessy could easily pass for white but under Louisiana law, he was considered black despite his light complexion and therefore required to sit in the “Colored” car. He was a Creole of Color, a term used to refer to black persons in New Orleans who traced some of their ancestors to the French, Spanish, and Caribbean settlers of Louisiana before it became part of the United States. When Louisiana passed the Separate Car Act, legally segregating common carriers in 1892, a black civil rights organization decided to challenge the law in the courts. Plessy deliberately sat in the white section and identified himself as black. He was arrested and the case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. Plessy’s lawyer argued that the Separate Car Act violated the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. In 1896, the Supreme Court of the United States heard the case and held the Louisiana segregation statute…

Read the entire article here.

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The Gains and Losses of Passing for White – Ernest Torregano

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-06-04 19:59Z by Steven

The Gains and Losses of Passing for White – Ernest Torregano

Creolegen
2015-05-31

Jari Honora, Founder and Consultant

In 1912, Ernest Joseph Torregano, a thirty-year old New Orleans native, was a porter on the Southern Pacific Railroad. For about three years, Torregano had worked the run from New Orleans to San Francisco. After each successful run, he would return home to his wife, Viola Perrett Torregano, and his only child, Gladys Marguerite, who had been born on 7 February 1904. Like so many other Southerners of color, Ernest Torregano found moving to California to be a golden opportunity to better himself. In his case however, it came at a drastic cost – the loss of his wife and child. He was able to use what was undoubtedly his God-given intelligence and aptitude, but to do so, he passed for white. In his early adult years, Ernest had worked as a singer and handyman for a traveling minstrel troupe. It was while with the troupe, that he met one of it’s pretty stars, a guitar-playing young lady named Viola Perrett. They were married and soon had their daughter Gladys, after which they quit the show so that he could sign-on with the Southern Pacific Railroad.

Concurrent with his employment on the railroad, Ernest completed his high school studies and through independent study courses and classes at the Saint Ignatius College of Law, he was able to pass the California bar examination on 7 April 1913. During all of this time, he maintained a foot in both worlds – telling friends and relatives in New Orleans that he was working as a warehouseman in San Francisco, even having relatives to visit, while all the way he kept up a separate white identity for the sake of his schooling and his intended profession. He regularly went back to New Orleans, spending time with his wife and daughter who lived in the home of his mother, Mrs. Louise Johnson Torregano…

Read the entire article here.

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Mystery, and Discovery, on the Trail of a Creole Music Pioneer

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2015-05-28 16:09Z by Steven

Mystery, and Discovery, on the Trail of a Creole Music Pioneer

The New York Times
2015-05-28

Campbell Robertson, Southern correspondent

PINEVILLE, La. — Somewhere among the thousands beneath a grassy hill here lies the body of Amédé Ardoin.

He was singular in life: one of the greatest accordion players ever to come out of south Louisiana. A Creole prodigy who traveled the countryside playing his bluesy two-steps and waltzes, he changed Cajun music and laid down the roots for zydeco.

At his death at the age of 44 in 1942, he was Case No.13387 in the state psychiatric hospital, destined for an anonymous burial.

Years of attempts to recover the body of Amédé, as he is widely known, have come to nothing. As with Mozart’s grave, Amédé’s is known only by its general vicinity: the area where the blacks were buried. But a desire for some sort of physical commemoration of his life, beyond a few documents and a blurry photograph, has not gone away.

“I started thinking of possible symbolic ways of bringing Amédé home, placing a kind of image of him in the culture, something physical,” said Darrell Bourque, a former state poet laureate, who has been trying to raise funds to have a statue erected, most likely in Eunice, La., where Amédé spent much of his life.

Mr. Bourque described Amédé as bringing the white Cajun and black Creole traditions together in a society that policed racial boundaries so rigidly that it ultimately brought about his death. His music, Mr. Bourque said, represented “a little pocket of possibility that didn’t get replicated in the larger culture.”

It was only after he began looking for Amédé that Mr. Bourque came to learn how complicated those boundaries could be for whites and blacks at that time — and how deeply connected he was to the people who crossed them…

Read the entire article here.

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The Kidnapping of Mollie Digby: Was the Fair-Haired Stranger Actually Mollie?

Posted in Articles, Law, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2015-02-24 01:37Z by Steven

The Kidnapping of Mollie Digby: Was the Fair-Haired Stranger Actually Mollie?

All Things Crime
2015-02-20

Darcia Helle

In 1870, New Orleans was a city divided by politics, class, and race. The Civil War had left much of the south reeling, and now the government’s Radical Reconstruction attempted to force change by integrating the black population into the white-dominated hierarchy. Some whites rebelled, clinging to their Confederate roots, while others who supported the change suffered ridicule and disdain within their community. The atmosphere was tumultuous. Racism was not only openly practiced but encouraged.

Former United States Supreme Court Justice John Campbell, who resigned in order to join the Confederacy, illustrates this point well. He had this to say to his fellow New Orleanians: “We have Africans in place all about us, they are jurors, post office clerks, custom house officers & day by day they barter away their obligations and duties.”

By 1870, this self-appointed elite class had become the minority. Foreign born immigrants made up 75% of the city’s population. Prejudices went much deeper than skin color. Irish and German immigrants were considered lowlifes, their presence tolerated by the upper class only slightly more than the presence of African-Americans. This hostile environment made New Orleans one of the most dangerous places in America during the late 1800s.

Thomas and Bridgette Digby were two of the city’s Irish immigrants living in relative obscurity. They had fled their country during the mid-1800s, along with thousands of others known as the “Famine Irish”. By June of 1870, the couple had three children and were living in a working class section of New Orleans. Thomas drove a hackney cab, and Bridgette took in laundry and sewing from the wealthy residents. Nothing about them or their lives was remarkable at the time. Certainly nothing suggested that their names would be committed to history…

…The details of this case are too complicated and convoluted to share here. For a full account of this story, as well as fascinating details of the historical period, I highly recommend reading The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case: Rage, Law, and Justice in the Reconstruction Era by Michael A. Ross. The short version of this story is that the outraged and outspoken media and citizens pushed the police department toward an arrest. In fact, they demanded nothing less…

Read the entire article here.

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