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The Aubrys-Free People of Color in Early New Orleans
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The Aubrys - Free People Of Color In Early New Orleans by Carol Mills-Nichol. Hardbound, (2021) Illustrations, 390 pgs
The Aubry sisters who came of age at the very beginning of American domination in colonial New Orleans, were, while it may seem ironic to some, certainly freer than their white female married counterparts. Since the beginning of the Spanish regime in 1769, Louisiana’s free women of color, could buy and sell property, make contracts, and sue for their rights in court, all without interference from a spouse, father or guardian. While life in general during these times was often beset by periodic epidemics, floods and famine, the Aubrys, carved a niche for themselves in early New Orleans using their wits, their education and their financial acumen to make a better life for themselves and their children. They forged bonds with many existing Caucasian, African American, and racially-mixed families, some of whom had been in Louisiana for generations, and others who had recently arrived from Saint-Domingue. While the Civil War and its aftermath brought hope of equality, It was only after the end of Reconstruction, when the heavy hand of Jim Crow discrimination was reintroduced by the democrat party, that some of these long-time New Orleanians of color abandoned Louisiana.
This is the story, not only of the Aubrys, but also the Chiapella, Coudrain, Foy, Lemelle, Delachaise, Lorreins, Dupuy, Allain, Bonneval, Ozenne, Edmunds, Flot, Bringier, Pinta, Grandmaison, Dalcour, Raby, St. Hubert, Latrobe, Domingon, Lassize, Rigaud, Cassan, Watkinson, Grasse, and other related families who populated the multicultural landscape of early New Orleans
Carol Mills-Nichol, who received her B.A. from New York University, and her M.A. from Fordham University in French language and literature, has spent the better part of twenty years writing about life in nineteenth century Louisiana. Early on, she devoted her efforts to the study of Jewish immigrants to the state. Later she expanded her research to delve into the lives of the many French immigrants who made their homes in the south during the Civil War. Recently, while visiting a local courthouse, she was captivated by the story of Marie Eglée Aubry, a free woman of color, who boldly stood up for her rights in a society still dominated by the white European male. It was then and there that she decided to devote her next book to Marie Eglée, and to her extended family, who were a fascinating part of the large and influential free colored population which was unique to nineteenth century New Orleans.
This book is an excellent source for historians, genealogists, and instructors of African American history.
This book is also available in Softcover