This collection contains a 44-page typescript and hand script draft memoir, with some annotations and corrections. Entitled "Brown Eyes," Etheline Ross Cochran describes her life in New Orleans as a mother of fourteen children. Working a variety of jobs throughout her life, Cochran describes life as part of the working poor in New Orleans, including glimpses of life as a domestic worker and life in the Desire Projects. Also included are handwritten testimonies from three persons close to Cochran, including two of her children.
In her memoir, Etheline Ross Cochran, a life-long resident of New Orleans, describes her upbringing with an abusive father and her mother who died young. Cochran moved around the city and lived in various neighborhoods. She mentions her inspiring and devoted school principals, Fannie C. Williams and O. C. W. Taylor. She also reflects on nightlife throughout the city. She describes the city's "freejacks," the "almost white" residents of New Orleans who live primarily in the Seventh Ward neighborhood.
Cochran devotes much of her memoir to reflecting on her varied careers and odd jobs. She describes working as a domestic worker since the age of twelve, including several years spent working in the house of an Italian American family, which includes mention of the expected subservience of African American domestic workers to their White employers of all ages. She also describes being around drug runners and illicit gambling operations. Cochran moved into the Desire Projects in the early 1960s, where she describes a placid and beautiful neighborhood that quickly fell into disrepair and violence. After receiving federal support for job training and family services counseling, she moved her family out of the Desire Projects to another, more remote, neighborhood to provide a more positive environment for her and her children. She then worked as a lab technician at Charity Hospital.
Cochran describes the successes and struggles in her two difficult marriages and large family of fourteen children, many of whom joined the military. Cochran also mentions her membership in various Catholic churches throughout New Orleans, including a church where her father worked as a sexton. She also mentions several helpful favors of Congressmen Hale and Lindy Boggs, with whom her father was an acquaintance. A self-described member of the city's working poor, Cochran provides advice for other poor mothers and families on welfare.