I’m back for Travel Thursday with a visit down to New Orleans!
For several years during my teaching career I taught social studies/history and I quickly learned that heading out of the classroom on field trips was one of the best ways to learn the material. Spending a week in Washington DC can teach you more about the history of the United States than a whole year in the classroom. And chances are you’ll remember more of the information because you were able to see and experience history instead of just reading about it!
So when the opportunity came up to visit Laura Plantation outside of New Orleans, LA I jumped on the chance! And I have to say, I learned more about life in the south during the 1800 and 1900’s during the 90-minute tour than I did in all of my years of school! What I appreciated most about the tour was that they didn’t simply share information of the dishes and furniture, but told the stories of the people who lived there. The story of 4 generations of a Creole family, white, black and in between, and their complex and complicated relationships. Those stories made for a fascinating and engaging tour.
Laura Plantation was built in the early 1800’s and I must admit that I was expecting to see a traditional plantation with a white house and white pillars but we learned that when these houses were built, white houses meant Americans were in residence and the colorful houses, like Laura Plantation, indicated Creoles were in residence.
The stark contrast between the dining/kitchen areas of the main house and the slave quarters were eye opening. During this time wealth was measured in the number of slaves you owned and upon your death when your personal belongings were inventoried, your slaves would be included in this list.
It’s easy to imagine generations of Creole families spending time on the front porch of Laura Plantation overlooking the Mississippi River. Families with the common bonds of being born in Louisiana, professing the Catholic faith, and speaking French/Creole. Families who saw the Civil War come and the Civil War go, but life on the planation remained the same. Families who employed slaves who received paychecks in a language they couldn’t read. Families who were integrated but integration did not mean equality. Laura was born in the mid 1800’s and the fact she was born when Abraham Lincoln was president and died when John F. Kennedy was president tells you what all she saw in her lifetime.
If you’re in the New Orleans area I’d recommend touring the Laura Plantation. Our family has been talking about our visit for weeks
What historical events would you want to learn more about through traveling?
Disclaimer: We received complimentary admission to the Laura Plantation but all thoughts and opinions are my own.