Louisiana Genealogy and Ancestry Research

This page will provide you with information that will help you in your genealogy and ancestry research for the state of Louisiana. It includes a timeline for the state, when the state began recording vital records, what US and State census records are available, a map of the parishes (not counties) in the state and link to page showing when they were formed, and links to a variety of genealogy and ancestry resources for the state of Louisiana.

Louisiana History Timeline

1541 – Hernando de Soto explores the region searching for gold.

1682 – Robert de La Salle claims the Louisiana Territory for France.

1714 – Natchitoches is established as the first permanent settlement.

1718 – The city of New Orleans is founded.

1763 – Spain gains control of Louisiana.

1803 – The United States buys Louisiana as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

1812 – Louisiana becomes the 18th state.

1815 – General Andrew Jackson defeats the British in the Battle of New Orleans, the last major battle of the War of 1812.

1849 – Baton Rouge becomes the state capital.

1861 – Louisiana secedes from the United States and joins the Confederacy.

1862 – The Union army captures New Orleans.

1868 – Louisiana is readmitted to the Union.

1901 – Oil is discovered.

1928 – Famous politician Huey Long is elected governor.

1975 – The New Orleans Superdome is completed.

2005 – Hurricane Katrina hits the state devastating New Orleans and killing over 1,800 people.

2010 – A Massive oil spill occurs off of the coastline when a BP oil rig explodes.

Louisiana Vital Records

The civil recording of births, marriages, and deaths did not begin in earnest until the early twentieth century. Although laws were passed in the late nineteenth century requiring that vital events be recorded, there was little compliance until later. Prior to that time it was the responsibility of the churches to maintain this data.

The Roman Catholic Church dominated Louisiana until the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. In fact, it was the only church in Louisiana until that time. The Catholic churches throughout the state kept registers of christenings, marriages, and burials, and were the recorders of Louisiana’s early vital records. For important published works relating to marriages, see Church Records below and the following:

  • DeVille, Winston. The New Orleans French, 1720-1733: A Collection of Marriage Records Relating to the First Colonists of the Louisiana Province. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1973.
  • Forsyth, Alice D. Louisiana Marriages, 1784-1806. New Orleans: Polyanthos, 1977.
  • Ghislaine Pleasonton. Louisiana Marriage Contracts: 1725-1758. New Orleans: Polyanthos, 1980.
  • Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Natchitoches Church Marriages, 1818-1850. Translated Abstracts from Registers of St. François des Natchitoches, Louisiana. Vol. 6. Cane River Creole Series. Tuscaloosa, Ala.: Mills Historical Press, 1985.

In the first part of the twentieth century many states, including Louisiana, began requiring civil registration of vital records. The earliest city in Louisiana to exact civil registrations was New Orleans in 1790; however, registrations were only randomly made until the twentieth century. It was not until 1914 that civil recording began statewide.

Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org has a variety of collections available online. I’ve included the links below.

Louisiana Census Records

Refer to the Census Records for Louisiana for more information about the census records for Louisiana.

After the 1803 purchase of Louisiana, it became an American possession; therefore, the first federal census report taken for the state was 1810. Caution should be used particularly with relying on any census indexes for Louisiana, as many French and Spanish names were transcribed wrong for the census and numerous omissions exist.

Federal Population Schedules

  • Indexed’1810, 1820, 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930
  • Soundex’1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930

Ancestry.com has digitized images of the entire U.S. Federal Census Schedules 1790-1930 and created searchable indexes for the images. This collection can be accessed at U.S. Federal Census Collection. FamilySearch.org has links to a variety of sources for online Census records at United States Census Online Genealogy Records.

Industrial and Agricultural Schedules

  • 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880

Mortality Schedules

  • 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880

Slave Schedules

  • 1850, 1860

Union Veterans Schedules

  • 1890

Louisiana Parishes

Louisiana Parishes Map
Louisiana Parishes Map

Parishes, (not counties), are the political jurisdictions in Louisiana. This link to Louisiana Parish Resources at Rootsweb will show each parish, when it was formed, parent county(ies), Marriage, Land, Probate and Court first started recording these events. 

Louisiana Genealogy and Ancestry Research Links

Louisiana Family History Research – originally written by Beth A. Stahr, CGRS and Sharon Sholars Brown for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, 3rd edition 2004. 

Ancestry.com, Louisiana vital records databases (membership may be required)

FamilySearch.org collections for free online:

USGenWeb Project – Louisiana Archives

USGenWeb Archives Project – Louisiana, Orleans Parish, Alphabetical Birth Indexes 1796-1900

French Archives – Louisiana 1720-1734

Archdiocese of New Orleans – Church Records

The Ancestor Hunt – Free Louisiana Online Church Records

How to Find Louisiana Birth Records – FamilySearch.org Wiki

GenealogyBuff.com – Library of Files, Louisiana Genealogy Data

LAGenWeb – Louisiana

LDS Geneaology – Lousiana Genealogy

Louisiana Genealogical and Historical Society

Louisiana Genealogy Trails

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness – State of Louisiana Records Guide

AccessGenealogy – Louisiana Genealogy

GenealogySpot – Louisiana

Louisiana State History Timeline Links

eReference Desk – Louisiana History Timeline

Louisiana State History – Ducksters.com

14 Moments that define New Orleans’ 300 Year History

Timelines of History – Louisiana

Datesandevents.org – Louisiana History Timeline