Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 2008 Marissa Davis. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


History Department

First Advisor

Bruce Dorsey

Second Advisor

Robert Weinberg

Third Advisor

Marjorie Murphy

Fourth Advisor

Allison Dorsey


In her thesis, Davis examines Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs and the Mardi Gras Indian tradition of New Orleans from the 19th century into the 21st. The performative traditions of African-American communities in New Orleans, Davis argues, have a dual function: preserving the cultural heritage while also playing a key role in community building and social organizing. Drawing primarily on interviews, this thesis looks at the significance of these traditions as well as their survival, evolution, and the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the African-American community.