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Student Research Projects

Racial Relations and Free Persons of Color in New Orleans: 1803-1861

Student Laura Nogrady
Faculty Mentor(s) Dr. Daniel Margolies
Department History
Course HIST 460: Senior Project Seminar


I focused on the social systems within early New Orleans, mainly those dealing with miscegenation. I looked at the French system of placage, where white men lived with and financially supported biracial or multiracial women and their children as a vehicle for social mobility. Using legal records and traveler's accounts from statehood to the Civil War, I highlighted the importance of multiracial dances that were integral to the placage system.

Additional work will to focus on free women of color and their experiences within the unique city of New Orleans. I previously relied on laws and other sources to gain a more accurate view of the social world surrounding these women. However, most of the letters of free women of color and those of travelers remain in boxes within archives, not published on transferable microfilm or books. I plan to travel to New Orleans and spend a weekend amongst the papers of these women, in order to more accurately portray their lives and social experiences.


VWC Undergraduate Research Grant


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