‘White’ Slaves of New Orleans (PHOTOS)

The Civil War broke out in 1861. The Union captured New Orleans in April, 1862, saving the city from the destruction faced by other Southern cities.  New Orleans remained an occupied city until the end of the war.

With slavery ending, one of the first goals of newly freed African-Americans was education.  Abolitionists opened schools throughout New Orleans for the thousands of recently enslaved children desiring to learn.  Opening and operating a school required funding, something not easily accessible during wartime.  They decided on a unique strategy for donations – sending pictures of former slaves who were lightly colored across the country.  Their reasoning was mainly twofold: to appeal to whites who might be able to relate to those in the photograph and to demonstrate the illogical nature of the “one-drop-rule”, a construct instituted during slavery claiming anyone with African ancestry as black, regardless of appearance.

The success of the campaign demonstrated who was understood to be a victim and deserving of an education in 19th century America.  Despite the collapse of the legal institution of slavery, the respect and opportunities of personhood, including the human right to an education, remained absent for the majority of people of color.


Notice those photos with the Union flag used to appeal to Northerners.  The pictures sold for $1 for “the large picture, 25 cents each for the small ones.”

Photos are public courtesy of The Library of Congress.


  1. lynne dier says:

    Interesting.  Amazing how the boy was refused entry into a Philly hotel.  Isn’t Philly in the north?  Last time I looked it was.  Great article.  What called your attention to it? I am so proud of you.  Take care  Love your number one fan


  2. josh says:

    Very interesting blog Chris! I had never heard of these donation photo’s, very intriguing. Never heard of the the St. Bernard Massacre either so I will definitely keep following your blog. Keep it up

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s