Louisiana Church Records

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Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Before statehood in 1812 the Roman Catholic Church was dominant in Louisiana. Few Protestant churches flourished. From 1812 to 1900, the largest religious groups in Louisiana were the Roman Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Lutheran churches.[1]

Information Found in the Records[edit | edit source]

To effectively use church records, become familiar with their content. Click on these links to learn about a specific record type:

Finding the Records[edit | edit source]

Look for online records.[edit | edit source]

Ancestry.com, FindMyPast.com, and MyHeritage.com can be searched free of charge at your local family history center or the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Caution sign.png

Online databases are incomplete. This can lead to two common errors:

  1. Near matches: Researchers might mistakenly accept an entry very similar to their ancestor, thinking it is the only one available. Only use information that matches your ancestor in date, place, relationships, and other details.
  2. Stopping research: Researchers might assume the database proves church records do not exist. Actually the record is still out there, just not in this incomplete collection of records. Keep searching!

Catholic[edit | edit source]

Presbyterian[edit | edit source]

Other Collections[edit | edit source]

Look for digital copies of church records in the FamilySearch Catalog.[edit | edit source]

Family History Library
Salt Lake City, Utah
  • The Family History Library (FHL) has a substantial collection of original church records and transcripts on microfilm for churches in the United States.
  • Online church records can be listed in the FamilySearch Catalog under the state, county, or town.
  • If you find a record that has not yet been digitized, see How do I request that a microfilm be digitized?
  • Some records might have viewing restrictions, and can only be viewed at a Family History Center near you, and/or by members of supporting organizations.
  • To find records:
a. Click on the records of United States, Louisiana.
b. Click on Places within United States, Louisiana and a list of counties will appear.
c. Click on your county if it appears.
d. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Click on Places within United States, Louisiana [COUNTY] and a list of towns will appear.
f. Click on your town if it appears, or the location which you believe was the parish which served your town or village.
g. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
h. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the listing for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the record is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the records.

Consult available finding aids.[edit | edit source]

These aids generally provide lists of records that are known to exist and information on their location.

Correspond with or visit the actual churches.[edit | edit source]

Some records are still held in the local churches. Contact the current minister to find out what records are still available.

  • Make an appointment to look at the records. Or ask the minister of the church to make a copy of the record for you.
  • To find church staff available, you might have to visit on Sunday.
  • Ask for small searches at a time, such as one birth record or a specific marriage. Never ask for "everything on a family or surname".
  • A donation ($25-$40) for their time and effort to help you would be appropriate.
  • If the church has a website, you may be able to e-mail a message.
  • See the Letter Writing Guide for Genealogy for help with composing letters.
  • Each denomination page offers an online address directory of local churches for that denomination.

Check the church records collections in archives and libraries.[edit | edit source]

Some church records have been deposited for preservation in government archives or in libraries. Watch for links to digitized, online records offered by the archives. Some archives provide research services for a fee. For others, if you cannot visit in person, you might hire a researcher.< br>

Here you will find archive information unique to the state. Many more archives are kept by denomination. For denominational archives, go to Searching for Church Records by Denomination.

Lutheran[edit | edit source]

ELCA Region4-South Archives
1090 Oestreich Dr.
Seguin, TX 78155

Phone:(830) 379-9900
E-mail: archives@swtsynod.org

  • Archives hold records for closed churches. For open churches write directly to the local church.

Roman Catholic[edit | edit source]

The earliest church records were Roman Catholic marriage records that began in 1720 and baptism records that began in 1729. Most records are kept at the local churches.

The Drouin Collection[edit | edit source]

Early U.S. French Catholic Church Records, 1695-1954 ($) (Ancestry). It is the U.S. part of the U.S. and French-Canadian Drouin Collection. For more details see "The Drouin Collection: Six Databases" The types of records include baptisms, marriages, and burials as well as confirmations, dispensations, censuses, statements of readmission to the church, and so on. They are written mainly in French, as well as English, Latin, and Italian.

Catholic Diocese Archives[edit | edit source]

Archdiocese of New Orleans Archives
7887 Walmsley Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70125-3496
Phone: (504) 861-9521
Fax: (504) 866-2906

The Archdiocese includes the parishes of: Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, Plaquemines and Washington.[2]

Diocese of Shreveport Archives
3500 Fairfield Avenue
Shreveport, LA 71104
Phone: (318) 868-4441
Email: chancellorsoffice@dioshpt.org

  • Family Genealogy Research
    • Depending upon the amount of research required, a fee may be charged. Requests may be received by email or regular mail.

The Archives of the Diocese of Shreveport is the repository for materials relating to the history of the Catholic Church in north Louisiana. This area includes the sixteen civil parishes (counties) of Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne, DeSoto, East Carroll, Jackson, Lincoln, Morehouse, Ouachita, Red River, Richland, Sabine, Union, Webster and West Carroll. The sacramental records program of diocesan archives maintains a centralized copy of Catholic baptisms, marriages, and burials that are 72 years old or older with the earliest records dated 1856.

Diocese of Alexandria
4400 Coliseum Boulevard
Alexandria, LA 71303
Phone: (318) 445-2401
Fax: (318) 448-6121

The Archives hold an extensive microfilm collection, old sacramental records, photograph collections, special individual collections, papers of the bishops, biographies of the bishops, documentation and photographs chronicaling parish histories and rare documents and books. The records are preserved through microfilm, mechanical copy, manuscripts, originals and digitally. Most of the early records are in French or Spanish. Microfilms and original books of sacramental records date back to: Avoyelles--beginning 1796; Natchitoches--beginning 1734; Rapides--no records available prior to 1895.

The diocese includes the parishes of: Avoyelles, Caldwell, Catahoula, Concordia, Franklin, Grant, LaSalle, Madison, Natchitoches, Rapides, Tensas, Vernon and Winn.[2]

Diocese of Baton Rouge Archives
1800 South Acadian Thruway
Baton Rouge, LA 70808
Phone: (504) 387-0561
Fax: (504) 336-8789

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 2028
Baton Rouge, LA 70821-2028
This diocese has collected all parish registers in its area and indexed them.

The diocese includes the parishes of: Assumption, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, St. James, Tangipahoa, West Baton Rouge and West Feliciana.[2]

Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux Archives
205 Audubon Avenue
Thibodaux, LA 70301
Phone: (985) 446-2383
E-Mail: kallemand@htdiocese.org

The archives are open to the public for research. Records are considered public that are older than 100 years.
The diocese includes the parishes of: Assumption, LaFourche, St. Martin, St. Mary and Terrebonne.[2]

Diocese of Lafayette Archives
1408 Carmel Dr.
Lafayette, LA 70501
Phone: (337) 261-5652

Mailing address:
P.O. Box 3387
Lafayette, LA 70502-3387

Please forward inquiries via email: bdejean@diolaf.org / cbrunet@diolaf.org

The diocese includes the parishes of: Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary and Vermilion.[2]

Diocese of Lake Charles
414 Iris Street
Lake Charles, LA 70601
Phone: (337) 439-7400
All records are maintained at the parish level.
The diocese includes the parishes of: Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron and Jefferson Davis.[2]

Methodist[edit | edit source]

Centenary College of Louisiana
Magale Library, Cline Room
Shreveport, LA 71134-1188
Phone: (318) 869-5170
Fax: (318) 869-5004

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 41188
Shreveport, LA 71134-1188

  • The archives only has records for closed and abandoned churches. For existing churches, contact the local parish.

Correspond with genealogical or historical societies.[edit | edit source]

Some church records have been given to historical societies. Also, historical societies may be able to tell you where the records are being held. To find a society near you, consult these lists:

Next, go to the Wiki article for your ancestors' denomination.[edit | edit source]

There are frequently additional, nationwide or regional archives and online collections for each denomination. Find the article for your ancestors' denomination and follow the instructions there to access these sources.

Wiki Articles for Records of Major Religious Denominations

Carefully compare any record you find to known facts about the ancestor[edit | edit source]

You will possibly find many different people with the same name as your ancestor, especially when a family stayed in a locality for several generations, and several children were named after the grandparents or aunts and uncles. Be prepared to find the correct church records by organizing in advance as many of these exact details about the ancestor as possible:

  • name, including middle name and maiden name
  • names of all spouses, including middle and maiden name
  • exact or closely estimated dates of birth, marriage, and death
  • names and approximate birthdates of children
  • all known places of residence
  • occupations
  • military service details

Dark thin font green pin Version 4.pngCarefully evaluate the church records you find to make sure you have really found records for your ancestor and not just a "near match". If one or more of the details do not line up, be careful about accepting the entry as your ancestor. There are guiding principles for deciding how to resolve discrepancies between records that are seemingly close. For more instruction in evaluating evidence, read the Wiki article, Evaluate the Evidence.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Sydney E. Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1972). FHL Book 973 K2ah.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Map of the Roman Catholic Dioceses in the United States of America, Office of Catholic Schools Diocese of Columbus, accessed 3 Nov 2010.
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