Did You Know?


Henriette Delille, co-founder of Sisters of the Holy Family.

Henriette Delille’s great-great grandmother, Nanette, began the tradition of godparenting among enslaved people in Louisiana. African women that were active in the Children of Mary organization in the Catholic church passed the godparenting tradition down from generation to generation. Europeans participated in the custom often serving as benefactors for the children of Afro-Creole women. As a result of the social networks created through godparenting, especially the inclusion of Europeans in them, resulted in each passing generation of Afro-Creole families obtaining greater personal and familial freedom. Freedom came by way of payment and manumission. This is evident by the growth of the free black population in Louisiana during the late 18th century. Within the area of godparenting, Afro-Creole women also became active agents of the church. Africans imported into the colony in 1776 and after, were introduced to Catholicism by second and third generation enslaved African American Catholics as well as free Afro-Creoles Catholics.

NPS Ethnography Program