Item #15405 19th cent Albumen photographs of Catholic elementary school for African-American Girls of Color both free and enslaved, in the South. EDUCATION AFRICAN AMERICAN.

19th cent Albumen photographs of Catholic elementary school for African-American Girls of Color both free and enslaved, in the South

Original Photo

[African-American] [Education] Pair of photographs depicting Catholic elementary school education for black and Creole children circa 1890. Albumen photographs, 7” x 5” inches, one mounted on board and the other unmounted. One photo depicts girls of color the oldest black parish in the United States, St. Augustine’s Catholic Church, New Orleans, Louisiana. St. Augustine's was founded in 1842 by free blacks in New Orleans who sought to create a place of worship for their people, both free and the enslaved. The unmounted photo is captioned in cursive at the bottom edge “Catholic School, Mandeville La”. Both photographs show African American nuns assembled with male and female students in front of the school. Religious instruction was one of the few accessible paths to an education for African-Americans in the mid-19th century. At a time when literacy was considered a dangerous advantage, the Catholic School at Manderville is notable not just for educating children of color, but for including girls, as well as children of both the freed and the enslaved. The property on which the Catholic School of Saint Augustine Church stood was originally part of a plantation owned by Claude Treme, who subdivided his estate and sold off large tracts to free blacks and others on a first-come, first-serve basis; the school itself was likely founded by Henriette Delille, a free woman of color, and Juliette Gaudin, a Cuban, worshippers at St. Augustine’s Church who devoted their lives to aiding slaves, orphan girls, the uneducated, and the sick and elderly among people of color. Their particular concern for the education and care of black children, aided greatly in the founding the city’s early private school for the colored. Widespread illiteracy among African-Americans was a cornerstone of white supremacy in the South. The objections to slave literacy were threefold: 1) Slaves did not have the mental capacity for education and would only become confused; 2) Slaves might learn to forge passes to non-slave states; and, 3) Insurrection and rebellion might result from slaves reading abolitionist writings. Literacy was so loaded, in fact, that the new restrictions resulting from Nat Turner’s 1842 slave revolt-- only two years after the Manderville Catholic School photographed here was started-- included anti-literacy laws and punishments for slaves who tried to learn to read and write. Yet many African-Americans, both free and enslaved, found ways around such laws to satisfy their hunger for learning. The main antebellum resource for teaching literacy was the Bible, which some whites permitted because they believed the Bible would teach African-Americans about their “divine” role as servants. With the Second Great Awakening, which lasted through the 1840s, the opportunity for African-Americans to receive an education was greatly expanded by the religious notion that all men and women from every race were in need of salvation, and that all redeemed individuals were to be “useful” in God’s kingdom; thus clearing the way to a new path for literacy and education among African-Americans through the lens of religious teaching. The school is in The Tremé, of New Orleans, a traditionally African-American neighborhood, although it has included a multicultural community.

Item #15405

Price: $1,600.00