coloured folk

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Fri Jul 15 18:21:10 UTC 2011

When I did some research on the occurrences of
"black", "Negro", "nigger", "niger", etc., I did
not think to look for "colo[u]red" [folk, people,
men, women, ???].  Perhaps not very interesting
to the OED, which seems to treat these as just instances of "coloured" 2.b.

But for "colored folk" -- In 18th Century
Newspapers (aka EAN), the earliest I see are two
instances of "colored folk" in 1831, both from
the Rhode-Island Republican {Newport] and both in
speech purported to be the dialect of the
"colored folk".  I find no instances of "coloured
folk" that are not "coloured silk".

"The colored people" and "the colored race" start in the late 1780s.


At 7/15/2011 01:35 PM, George Thompson wrote:

>It's true that the OED's entry on "colored", adjective, was written when Jim
>Murray was little more than an infant; still, whether or not the files today
>have instances from the U. S. before 1825 of coloured in the racial sense
>[OED = 2b:], the following has interest.
>[From a report of a suit in New Paltz, N. Y. in 1825 by Phillis Schoonmaker
>against Cuff Hodgeboom, for Breach of the Promise of Marriage.]
>The parties as their names indicate, are black, or, as philanthropists would
>say coloured folks.
>This is taken from the New-York Spectator, of April 29, 1825, but citing
>"Noah's Advocate", aka the New-York National Advocate (which is not the same
>as the National Advocate, which was being published in NYC at the same time.
>  Don't ask how's come -- I might tell you).
>  The story went viral, and a search of Readex's America's Historical
>Newspapers turns up 11 versions of it, all citing Noah's Advocate.
>The OED:
>[2b]  Having a skin other than ‘white’;
>*esp.* wholly or partly of black or
>‘coloured’ descent. In *S. Afr.* Of mixed
>black or brown and white descent;
>also (with capital initial), of or belonging to the population group of such
>mixed descent. *Cape Coloured* *adj.* and *n.* at cape *n.**3*
>Compounds 2<>
>1612    J. Speed *Theatre of Empire of Great
>i. xxv.
>49/1   Their‥coloured countenances, and curled haire.
>1760­72    J. Adams tr. A. de Ulloa *Voy.
>I. iii. iii.
>121   The‥Negro women, or the coloured women as they are called here.
>1832    F. Marryat *Newton
>iii. 32   ‘Au cachôt!’ cried all the coloured girls.
>1838    W. B. Boyce *Notes S. Afr.
>The coloured population are‥demoralized in large towns in the neighbourhood
>of canteens.
>1844    Gilchrist *Cape of Good
>20   The native population of the colony is generally called Hottentot, or
>bastard Hottentot, most of the coloured people approaching pretty nearly to
>the Hottentot formation, and some presenting a greater or smaller mixture of
>other, principally European, blood.
>1850    H. B. Stowe *Uncle Tom's
>182   Among the coloured circles of New Orleans.
>[and more]
>George A. Thompson
>Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ.
>Pr., 1998, but nothing much since then.
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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