In 2018, our curatorial staff worked with a trio of French translators, Dr. Annie Doucet of Tulane University and doctoral candidates Chiara Azzaretti and Jaclyn Maraldo, also of Tulane, to launch our first major research project into the history of slavery in New Orleans as it relates to our historical site. We began by delving through sale of property, sale of slave, and newspaper documents found at the Orleans Parish Notarial Archives Research Center before moving on to census and other records. Our goal for the first stage of this project was to gather as many names and supporting details about the enslaved people who, we can gather, once lived at our site. Because the names of the enslaved (and in fact, any household member beyond the head) were not listed in the pertinent censuses before 1860, we do not yet have a definitive list of who exactly lived here and when. Instead, we have a list of enslaved people who were owned by the then-owner of 1113 Chartres St. (now the BK House). We have estimated that 10-30 enslaved people may have lived on the property at any one time. Thus, it seems likely that the entire list of 15 enslaved peopled owned by Josephine Andry and her daughter Adonais Garidel in 1841 would have lived on the property with them. John Merle, on the other hand, owned 55 enslaved people during the years he owned the property, so a number of them may have been living and working elsewhere. (For example, Townley, a 40 year old man owned by John Merle is listed in his Sale of Slave document as having worked for many years on a barge on the lake.) Rather than omit anyone, we have chosen to include all 55 names on our list.
We have many more questions to answer and, in 2019, will conduct the second stage in this ongoing research.
If you or someone you know is interested in getting involved with this project, please get in touch! We are a small staff and any volunteers or interns who'd like to help with this research will be more than welcomed. We are especially interested in the input of any potential descendents of enslaved people who may have lived at our site (or elsewhere in and around New Orleans).