Date of Award
In this study an attempt has been made to analyze the social organization and social process of an independent Negro village: its historical origin, its social, cultural, and economic characteristics, and the race relations existing between the whites and the Negroes. The primary purpose throughout the study has been to realistically present the sociology of rural Negro life as it actually exists in this Negro village.
Bertrandville, the independent Negro village studied in the summer of 1935, is at present a line-village type of settlement located on the western side of Bayou Lafourche, in the seventh ward of the parish of Assumption. It covers an area of exactly one mile in length which is laid out along the inside curve of a long bend in the course of the bayou. The center of this area converges at the original and principal lane of the village, Bertrand Lane, which has a depth of approximately one-quarter of a mile. The main road, running through the village and parallel to the bayou, is a concrete State highway which divides the parish. Within this area live 85 families comprising a total population of 393 persons.
All heads of households in the designated area were personally interviewed, and the information received was recorded on an individual schedule for each household. The information thus acquired was supplemented by numerous other personal interviews with various natives of the village as well as with a number of aged white persons intimately familiar with the origin and early history of the settlement.
The population of Bertrandville is composed of a stable and immobile group. There has been a serious depopulation by migration of heads of households under and up to the 35-year age grouping, with results that one out of every three households falls in the age classification of sixty years and over. This has had a pronounced effect on the birth rate as revealed by the low fertility ratio and the scarcity of children under five. The large number of dependents has placed upon the shoulders of the Bertrandville Negroes in the productive years of life a much heavier burden than on the Negroes of the state and the Nation. The population is characterized by a high percentage of home owners and is a much legally married and religious one, with the conservative Catholic religion predominating.
Agriculture was the principal source of occupation; the cultivation and harvesting of sugar cane, corn, and rice furnished employment for the large majority of the village Negroes. Twelve heads of households were classed as farm operators, most of whom, however, supplemented this type of work by hiring out on plantations during the rush cane-cutting season.
Sporadic periods of employment were the lot of quite a number of heads of households in 1935. Over one-third of the heads were at one time or another idle from two to six months during the year.
The median monetary income per household in 1935 was $250.00, while the median total expenditures for the same year were $169.00 per household.
The four-person household living in a three-room house was typical of this village. In their cultural and institutional developments, these Negroes have borrowed to a great extent from the dominant French culture of the area. The influence of the French and Acadian type of family organization, the social control exerted by the Catholic religion with its uncompromising moral code, coupled with the social inheritance of the way of life of the French-speaking people have developed these Negroes into a tranquil, conservative, God-fearing, law-abiding population, diametrically different from the stereotype rural Negroes of the South as a whole.
Parenton, Vernon J., "A Sociological Study Of A Negro Village In The French Section Of Louisiana" (1938). LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses. 8325.