Date of Award

8-1961

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

This thesis is a study of a New Orleans subculture: the Creoles of color. The historical, participant-observer and empirical methods were used in the compilation of data.

The Creoles of color are the descendants of free people of mixed French and African ancestry who share the vestiges of the French culture of Louisiana known as Creole.

The first part of the study deals with the, socio-historical emergence and development of this subculture. Its evolution is traced as New Orleans shifted from a Franco-Spanish regime to American control and faced the crisis of the Civil War. Emancipation resulted in the loss of the privileged status the Creole of color had enjoyed in a slave society. This is considered the crucial factor which has shaped the attitudes of this group to the present. Rather than be identified as a Negro, the Creole chose to isolate himself in an attempt to maintain a superior status. With time social distance between the Creole and the Negro gradually lessened and the rapid social changes which have occurred since World War II has brought about a further rapprochement.

Nonetheless, the French cultural orientation, the allegiance to the Catholic Faith, the absence of a background of slavery, the maintenance of traditional occupations and color consciousness play a significant role in distinguishing the Creoles as a separate class of New Orleans Negro society. The creole further perpetuates this exclusiveness by maintaining a private world of his own which includes his well-integrated family, church, and community. However, the creole culture is becoming too small to meet the growing needs of its members. Traditional Creole values and attitudes are changing. While the family, church and community act as agents of conservatism, political, educational and economic institutions are the primary agents of social change. In his public life the Creole is a Negro. In his private world he remains a Creole.

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