The Finny Tribe: How Coastal, Cosmopolitan New Orleans Satisfied an Appetite for Fish


We examine fishing, fish markets, and fish consumption in New Orleans, Louisiana, using zooarchaeological assemblages of fish remains from four sites located in the French Quarter. The contexts range in age from the early eighteenth to the late nineteenth centuries and varied in function and occupation including French and Spanish households, a hotel, a public garden, and the Ursuline Convent. We use evidence of probable fishing habitats, various marketing practices, and the culinary origins of preferred food fishes to elucidate how the coastal setting of the city and its cosmopolitan inhabitants used fishing and fish to foster local identity.

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The authors thank Shannon Dawdy and Ryan Gray for the opportunity to analyze these assemblages. Dawdy and Gray provided contextual and temporal information for the assemblages. The research at the Rising Sun Hotel was funded by Earth Search, Inc., The Historic New Orleans Collection, and the Lichtstern Fund of the Department of Anthropology and the Social Science Division of the University of Chicago. Excavations and analysis at St. Anthony’s Garden was funded by The Getty Foundation; National Science Foundation, Archaeology Division (Award # 0917736); National Endowment for the Humanities Grant (#RZ-50992-09); The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; and the Lichtstern Fund of the Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago. Excavations and analysis of materials from the Ursuline Convent was supported with funds from the National Science Foundation (Archaeology Division, Award #0917736), the National Endowment for the Humanities (Award #RZ-50992- 09), The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; the Lichtstern Fund of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago and the Division of the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. Excavations at 810 Royal Street were completed by University of New Orleans field school students. Analysis of the 810 Royal Street materials was supported with funds from Tulane University’s New Orleans Center for the Gulf South. We thank Shannon Lee Dawdy, D. Ryan Gray, and Martin T. O’Connell for comments on draft versions of this paper. All omissions and errors are our own.

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deFrance, S.D., Kennedy, J.R. The Finny Tribe: How Coastal, Cosmopolitan New Orleans Satisfied an Appetite for Fish. Int J Histor Archaeol 24, 367–397 (2020).

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  • Finfish
  • French colonial
  • Spanish colonial
  • Markets
  • Lake Pontchartrain