Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Mitchell, Mary N.

Second Advisor

Atkinson, Connie

Third Advisor

Mizell-Nelson, Michael


Historians have debated to what extent the free people of color in New Orleans were members of a wealthy privileged elite or part of a middle or working class in the South's largest antebellum city. This study steps outside the debate to suggest that analysis of the censuses of 1850 and 1860 shows correlations between neighborhoods, household structures, and occupations that reveal a heterogeneous population that eludes simple definitions. In particular this study focuses on mixed-race households to shed light on this segment of the free colored population that is mostly unstudied and generally misrepresented. This study also finds that immediately prior to the Civil War, mixed-race families, for no easily understood reason, tended to cluster in certain neighborhoods. Mostly this study points out that by the Civil War, the free people of color in New Orleans had evolved into a diverse mostly working class population.


The University of New Orleans and its agents retain the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible this dissertation or thesis in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. The author retains all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis or dissertation.