The National Archives Catalog

Multiracial Person / Persona Multirracial

 

 

Reparative Description Preferred Term

Preferred Terms:Person/persona/man/woman/child [no racial modifier]; other options dependent on context, such as multiracial person / persona multiracial, biracial person / persona biracial, person of color / persona de color

Non-Preferred Term: mulatto/mulatta (pl. mulattos/mulattoes/mulattas), melungeon, free people of color, creole, pardo, Black Indians, quadroon, octoroon

Related Terms that May Continue to be Used:n/a

Guidance:

Multiracial person is the preferred term. NARA-supplied metadata containing the word "mulatto," “mulatta” or any related non-preferred terms should be changed to an appropriate NARA Preferred Term.

Each instance of a non-preferred term will be reviewed to determine if the term requires changing or should be retained because it is an exception such as when used in the proper name of a place. Exceptions that require no revisions will be clearly indicated in the General Note of the Description.

Example:

Item - Outward Manifest, Steamship Florida, June 19, 1852 (No. 1).

Original:

Scope and Content Note: “...A male slave named Alphonse, ‘mullatto,’ [sic] age 38, whose residence was ‘New York,’ was being shipped by Sarah P. Ferris [or Lewis or Peavis], with Captain Lyon of Savannah, Georgia, as consignee.”

Revised:

Scope and Content Note - “...An enslaved male named Alphonse, "mullatto" in color, age 38, whose residence was "New York," was being shipped by Sarah P. Ferris [or Lewis or Peavis], with Captain Lyon of Savannah, Georgia, as consignee.”

General Note -  “This archival description was reviewed and revised as part of the NARA reparative description initiative on August 25, 2023. The word “slave” was removed from the Scope and Content Note. The word "mullatto" was not changed as it was determined to be quoted from archival content. Original archival records have not been altered.”

Example:

Series - Proofs of Citizenship for Seamen's Protection Certificates, 1807-1851.

Original:

Scope and Content Note: "...The affidavits usually include the number assigned by the collector; name and signature of the witness; name of the seaman; the seaman's age, height, hair color, eye color, complexion (e.g. ruddy, dark, light, black, mulatto, Indian); his place of birth; his residence at the time the declaration was signed; the port and date of the affidavit; and the signature of a justice of the peace."

 Revised:

Scope and Content Note - "...The affidavits usually include the number assigned by the collector; name and signature of the witness; name of the seaman; the seaman's age, height, hair color, eye color, complexion ; his place of birth; his residence at the time the declaration was signed; the port and date of the affidavit; and the signature of a justice of the peace."

General Note - “This archival description was reviewed and revised as part of the NARA reparative description initiative on [date]. The words “ruddy,” “dark,” “light,” “black,” “mulatto,” and “Indian” were removed from the Scope and Content Note. Original archival records have not been altered.”

Where does this apply?

This applies to changes in descriptions. See the Appendix: Reparative Description Preferred Terms for guiding principles and general guidance.

Rationale:

Mulatto and Mulatta are racial classification terms used to refer to people of African and European or other ancestry. They have also been used to refer to persons of Native American and European ancestry, persons of Native American and African ancestry, and persons of Hispanic and European ancestry. Their use is considered outdated and offensive in several languages, including English, due to their history of use during American slavery and in the decades after emancipation during which Black people in the United States did not have the full legal rights of citizenship. Mulatto and Mulatta may still be used by English speakers for people of partially African descent but mostly to refer to the historiography or to the demography of Latin America and its diasporic population.

Resources:

Date added: December 19, 2023

Date updated: December 19, 2023

 

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