Colonial Records of Louisiana
Unlike the areas discussed thus far, Louisiana was initially settled by the French rather than the Spanish, as French explorers and then fur traders came down the St. Lawrence River and into the Great Lakes. French settlement in North America began with Acadia in 1603 and Quebec in 1608. In 1673, Louis Joliet, together with Jesuit priest Jacques Marquette, explored the Great Lakes region and reached the upper Mississippi River from Canada. Colonies were established at Detroit in 1701 and, later on, along the Ohio, Illinois, and upper Mississippi Rivers, including the Arkansas Post in 1686; Fort St. Joseph (Niles, Michigan) in 1697; Fort Miami (Fort Wayne, Indiana) in 1697; Cahokia, Kaskaskia, Prairie du Rocher, and St. Phillippe in Illinois, beginning in 1699; and Fort Michilimakinac (Michigan) in 1715.
In 1682, René Robert Cavellier, Sieur de la Salle, traveled down the Mississippi River to its mouth. While La Salle’s attempt at establishing a colony failed, Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d’Iberville, later traveled from France through the Gulf of Mexico to establish Fort Maurepas at Biloxi in present-day Mississippi. Other French establishments followed: Fort Louis on the Mobile River in 1702; Natchitoches in 1712; Fort Rosalie, now Natchez, Mississippi, in 1716; New Orleans in 1718; and Baton Rouge in 1719. With its capital at New Orleans beginning in 1723, Louisiana became a strong and bustling French colony, covering not only current Louisiana but all the watershed area of the great Mississippi River.
French control of the interior of the American continent was thus assured by the establishment of Louisiana. The colony grew under French control and even more dramatically under Spanish control after 1763. Notable during the latter period were the transfer of the French Acadians to Louisiana after their expulsion by the British in 1763 and the founding of St. Louis, Missouri, in 1764. Extensive records exist for both the French and Spanish periods, including government administrative records, judicial records, notarial records, and city council (cabildo) records. The vast majority of these records are currently found in one of the following collections:
Louisiana State Museum Historical Center houses the records of the French Superior Council (1714–69) and the Spanish Judiciary (1769–1803). These criminal and civil court records include many successions with a wealth of genealogical information concerning Louisiana’s colonial inhabitants. Also found are many abstracts and translations of colonial documents not housed in the Historical Center, such as the Dispatches of the Spanish Governors of Louisiana (1766–96, 27 volumes), which include material generated by Spanish governors, as well as the French Louisiane Recensements (1706–41), Passages (1718–24), and Concessions (1719–24). For more detail, go to http://specialcollections.tulane.edu/~wc/guidetocollections/louisianaMuseum.html.
The New Orleans Notarial Archives holds notarial documents from the French and Spanish colonial periods, relevant to all of Louisiana. See http://www.notarialarchives.org.
Special Collections Division of Tulane University in New Orleans houses original manuscripts as well as reference materials related to the Louisiana colonial period, including many family collections. See http://www.tulane.edu/~lmiller/ManuscriptsHome.html.
The Historic New Orleans Collection in New Orleans offers an extensive research library and manuscript material concerning New Orleans in the colonial period, as well as Louisiana materials from the French National Archives, Archives of the Indies of Spain, and the Cuban National Archives. For more detail, go to http://www.hnoc.org.
The Archives d’ Outre Mer in Aix en Provence, France, and the Archivo General de Indias in Seville, Spain, both have major collections of government documents relating to Louisiana. Most have been filmed, transcribed, or indexed, however, and can be consulted in the above-named repositories as well as in a number of university libraries in the United States. Extensive work has been done on microfilming, transcribing, and translating many of the other colonial records of Louisiana. Anyone doing beginning research on families in Louisiana should obtain a copy of Beers’ French and Spanish Records of Louisiana and read it with great care. Consulting the Internet sites mentioned earlier will provide information on most of the changes that have occurred since the book’s printing.
Extensive French and Spanish census records are available for Louisiana.
|New Orleans to Ouacha||1724||CTFCL|
|Dauphin I., Cat I., and Pascagoula||1725||CTFCL|
|Inhabitants along the Mississippi River||1731||CTFCL|
|Mobile (Ft. Louis)||1706||DSGQ; CTFCL|
|Mobile (Ft. Louis)||1711||CTFCL|
|Natchez (Ft. Rosalie)||1726||FFL|
|Natchitoches (Ft. St. Jean Baptiste )||1722||CTFCL|
- CTFCL: Charles R. Maduell Jr., The Census Tables for the French Colony of Louisiana from 1699 Through 1732 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1972; reprint, Clearfield Co., 2000).
DSGQ: Detroit Society for Genealogical Research Quarterly.
FFL: First Families of Louisiana.
Spanish Censuses of Louisiana
|Allemands||1784 AGI, Cuba|
|Ascensión parish||1777||LGR 27:367–368|
|Bahía Honda||1783||AGI, Cuba|
|Baton Rouge||1782||AGI, Cuba|
|Baton Rouge||1786||AGI, Cuba|
|Baton Rouge||1787||LGR 27:367–368|
|Baton Rouge||1795||AGI, Cuba|
|Baton Rouge||1805||AGI, Cuba|
|Bayou Teche||1803||LGR 27:367–368|
|Cannes Brülées||1795||AGI, Cuba|
|Cannes Brülées||1799||AGI, Cuba|
|Choctaw islands||1803||LGR 27:367–368|
|False River||1766||AGI, Cuba|
|False River||1787||LGR 27:367–368|
|False River||1790||AGI, Cuba|
|False River||1795||LGR 27:367–368|
|False River||1803||LGR 27:367–368|
|German coast||1784||LGR 27:367–368|
|German coast||1766||LGR 27:367–368|
|Louisiana Regiment||1779||LGR 27:367–368|
|Mobile (slaves)||1787||LGR 27:367–368|
|New Bourbon||1797||AGI, Cuba|
|New Feliciana||1793||LGR 27:367–368|
|New Feliciana||1796||LGR 27:367–368|
|New Feliciana||1798||AGI, Cuba|
|New Iberia||1778||LGR 27:367–368|
|New Iberia||1789||AGI, Cuba|
|New Madrid||1791||AGI, Cuba|
|New Madrid||1792||LGR 27:367–368|
|New Madrid||1793||LGR 27:367–368|
|New Madrid||1794||LGR 27:367–368|
|New Madrid||1796||LGR 27:367–368|
|New Madrid||1797||AGI, Cuba|
|New Orleans||1767||LGR 27:367–368|
|New Orleans||1778||LGR 27:367–368|
|New Orleans (1st q.)||1795||LGR 27:367–368|
|New Orleans (2nd q.)||1795||LGR 27:367–368|
|New Orleans (3rd q.)||1796||LGR 27:367–368|
|New Orleans||1798||AGI, Cuba|
|New Orleans||1799||AGI, Cuba|
|Pointe du Teiche||1803||AGI, Cuba|
|Pointe Coupee parish||1766||LGR 27:367–368|
|Pointe Coupee parish||1776||AGI, Cuba|
|Pointe Coupee parish||1787||LGR 27:367–368|
|Pointe Coupee parish||1790||AGI, Cuba|
|Pointe Coupee parish||1795||LGR 27:367–368|
|Pointe Coupee parish||1803||LGR 27:367–368|
|Prairie Aux Mouche||1770||LGR 27:367–368|
|Recruits from Canary I.||1783||LGR 27:367–368|
|S. Geneviéve||1770||AGI, Cuba|
|S. Geneviéve||1771||AGI, Cuba|
|S. Geneviéve||1773||AGI, Cuba|
|S. Geneviéve||1779||LGR 27:367–368|
|S. James parish||1769||LGR 27:367–368|
|S. James parish||1777||LGR 27:367–368|
|S. James parish||1766||LGR 27:367–368|
- AC: The Acadian Coast in 1779.
AGI, Cuba: The Papeles de Cuba section of the Archivo General de las Indias in Seville, Spain. MVM: Winston De Ville, Mississippi Valley Melange: A Collection of Notes and Documents for the Genealogy and History of the Province of Louisiana and the Territory of Orlean, vol. 1 (Ville Platte, La.: Mississippi Valley Melange, 1995). LGR: Those found in the historical manuscripts section of the Loyola University Library, New Orleans, Louisiana. VPL: Valenzuela in the Province of Louisiana, by Winston de Ville. Six- or seven-digit numbers with no other reference are film numbers from the collection of the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City, available through local Family History Centers.
Catholic Church Records of Louisiana
While the role of the Catholic Church in Louisiana was never as strong as in the Spanish colonies, Catholicism was a strong unifying factor among the French colonists, and its parish records are an important genealogical source.