AfriGeneas States Research Forum
[LA] New Book is source for information
By DAMON VEACH
Prior to the Civil War, New Orleans had one of the largest populations of free people of color in the South. Beginning in the 1830s, Louisiana began requiring many emancipated slaves and some blacks who were born free to register with the local authorities. It is not known how many of these registers were actually kept around the state, but two are known to have survived — one for Ascension Parish dating to the 1830s, and one for New Orleans kept from 1840 to 1864.
A new book by Le Comité des Archives de la Louisiane documents the New Orleans individuals who presented themselves at the mayor’s office to register according to the law. New Orleans Register of Free People of Color, 1840-1864, is a complete transcription of all the information found in four separate registers.
Most entries provide the registrant’s name, sex, color, age, identifying marks, profession, place of birth, time of arrival, date of registration and legal reference to freedom such as Notarial acts and dates or information on parents being free.
Types of occupations typically found among the antebellum free people of color population included steam boat workers, construction workers, barbers, seamstresses, hair dressers, merchants, boarding house keepers, nurses, domestics, cigar makers, drivers, cooks and waiters.