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Spatializing the Influence of Free Women of Color in the Vieux Carré

Gardenhire, Caitlin Rudin

The characterization of free women of color living in New Orleans as women who relied on their sensuality to gain a foothold in society have been perpetrated since at least the 1810s and is repeated still, even as efforts to bring to light untold stories, particularly about women and people of color, have been gaining momentum in America’s social and political consciousness. Through the identification of four extant buildings in the Vieux Carré Historic District owned by free women of color between the acquisition of New Orleans as a Spanish colony until Louisiana’s admission to the Confederacy and a recommendation for physical permanent recognition of these sites, the underrepresented histories of this group who were and are intrinsic to New Orleans society will join the preservation discourse locally and on a larger scale. This thesis demonstrates a more accurate history of free women of color as integral members of the community, business proprietors, and property owners by identifying and physically recognizing vernacular buildings owned by free women of color between 1763 and 1861 in the Vieux Carré Historic District, and seeks to dismantle the misogynistic and racist myths surrounding free women of color by integrating sites they owned with the preservation narrative.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Clark, Carol A.
Degree
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
August 21, 2020