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From: "Elizabeth Shown Mills" <>
Subject: [APG] Creoles: Was Catholic records
Date: Wed, 7 May 2008 14:28:23 -0500
References: <20080507162038.LOSZ28958.hrndva-omta06.mail.rr.com@alvied1d9d9840><013601c8b06f$23615960$6502a8c0@COMPUTER1>
In-Reply-To: <013601c8b06f$23615960$6502a8c0@COMPUTER1>

>In Pensacola, creole was a mix of Spanish and African. Many light-skinned
went west and passed for white. ... In N.O.
creole is usually 1st generation from European parents. But this family was
from Pensacola originally and they were Pensacola creole.

With respect, I must offer a different stance. I base my views on three
decades of studying "Creoles" in the original records of every Gulf Coast
and Mississippi Valley settlement (as well as many in Caribbean
settlements), including original records held in Spain, France, Mexico, and
Cuba--as well as having published on the subject in peer-reviewed journals
and university presses within history, sociology, literature, and genealogy.

Creole is a culture, not a color.

Historically, Creole was *not* defined as a *mix* of Spanish and African (or
any other). Nor did it matter how many generations removed one might be or
whether one lived at Pensacola, New Orleans, Mobile, St. Augustine, or
elsewhere. Many Gulf Coast settlers lived in all these regions and used the
same terminology.

In the colonial era, Creole simply meant "anyone born in the colonies with
ancestry from elsewhere."* One could be French Creole, Spanish Creole,
German Creole (as with the Palatines who settled the German Coast of
Louisiana under the John Law regime), English Creole (as with a number of
late 18th-century migrants to Florida and Louisiana), Black Creole (i.e.,
full African ancestry), or Creole of color (meaning a blend of Caucasian
with African and/or Native American). One can even find the term used in
some colonial Chesapeake records for those "born in the colonies" of
supposedly pure English ancestry.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Creole writers of the ilk of Grace King
and George Washington (but not Kate Chopin) attempted to redefine the term
"Creole" to mean "pure white." With the growth of genealogy in the
early-to-mid 1900s--it being primarily a white pursuit at the time--many
families had a strong desire to promote this definition. That distortion has
not stuck. In the post-Roots era, the pendulum has swung to the other
extreme, with many individuals applying the term exclusively (but
erroneously) to multiracials of Creole background.

*Two notable exceptions do exist to the generality that "Creole was anyone
born in the colonies with ancestry from elsewhere": (1) French Canadians;
and (2) Acadians exiled from Isle d'Acadie (think Longfellow's
_Evangeline_). Even after settling in Louisiana, the Acadians retained their
unique identity--at least until one married a Creole, at which point he or
she generally carried the identity of whichever culture they lived among.

Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
APG Member, Tennessee

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