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Filles à la Cassette

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Filles à la Cassette

Courtesy of The Historic New Orleans Collection

Embarkment of the Casket girls. Unidentified

The filles à la cassette (translated in English as “casket girls”) is the name given to French girls who migrated to Louisiana in 1728 to marry colonists already living in Louisiana. Although some women of questionable reputation, including accused prostitutes and criminals, were forced to traverse the Atlantic to marry French colonists, the filles à la cassette were from good families with upstanding reputations. As early as the eighteenth century, the French colonists were concerned with starting families so that French Louisiana could flourish. The filles à la cassette were, therefore, carefully selected for their reputations, age, and pure values so that they could contribute positively to the quality of the community. They were young women usually sixteen or younger who stayed with the Ursuline Nuns until they were married to the young men with similar reputations. They are called filles à la cassette for the trunk they each carried overseas from France, which contained their belongings.