chapter  6
14 Pages

Brown privilege, black labor: Uncovering the signifi cance of Creole women’s work

ByNATASHA L. MCPHERSON

If, for the disciplinary historian, the archive determines what is “sayable,” then conventional archives have been remarkably silent on the lives of New Orleans’s colored Creole women in the post-Reconstruction era. While there is a solid body of evidence on the women’s antebellum ancestors, the femmes de couleur libres (free women of color), the dearth of postwar archival resources seems to suggest that the women slipped into obscurity after emancipation. In the antebellum era, offi cial documents often identifi ed colored Creole women as “f.c.l.” or “f.w.c.”, indicating their status as free persons of color; however, without the legal designation distinguishing colored Creoles from other women in the postwar era, Creole identity practically disappears from public records.