Colonial Records of Louisiana

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Colonial Spanish Borderland Research

This article is part of a series.
Overview of Colonial Spanish Borderland Research
Catholic Sacramental Records
Civil Legal Documents
Military Records
Catholic Church Diocesan Records
Spanish Land Records for the United States
Locating Colonial Records of Genealogical Value
Colonial Records of Texas
Colonial Records of New Mexico
Colonial Records of Arizona
Colonial Records of California
Colonial Records of Florida
Colonial Records of Louisiana
Colonial Records of the French and Spanish in the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi
List of Useful Resources for Colonial Spanish Borderland Research

This article originally appeared in "Colonial Spanish Borderland Research" by George R. Ryskamp, JD, AG in The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy

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

The New Orleans Notarial Archives holds notarial documents from the French and Spanish colonial periods, relevant to all of Louisiana. See

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

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

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.

Census Records

Extensive French and Spanish census records are available for Louisiana.

Locality Year(s) Reference*
New Orleans to Ouacha 1724 CTFCL
Dauphin I., Cat I., and Pascagoula 1725 CTFCL
Inhabitants along the Mississippi River 1731 CTFCL
Ft. Maurepas 1699 CTFCL
Mobile (Ft. Louis) 1706 DSGQ; CTFCL
Mobile (Ft. Louis) 1711 CTFCL
Mobile 1721 DSGQ; CTFCL
Natchez (Ft. Rosalie) 1726 FFL
Natchitoches (Ft. St. Jean Baptiste ) 1722 CTFCL
New Orleans 1721 CTFCL
New Orleans 1732 CTFCL
New Orleans 1727 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

Acadians Acadians Ascensión parish Attakapas Attakapas Attakapas
Locality Year(s) Reference*
Arkansas 1777 AGI, Cuba
Arkansas 1791 AGI, Cuba
Arkansas 1793 LGR 27:367'368
Mississippi 1801 AGI, Cuba
Allemands 1776 AGI, Cuba
Allemands 1784 AGI, Cuba
Allemands 1789 AGI, Cuba
Allemands 1795 AGI, Cuba
Allemands 1799 AGI, Cuba
1769 AGI, Cuba
1770 AGI, Cuba
1770 LGR 27:367'368
Ascensión parish 1777 LGR 27:367'368
Attakapas 1770 AGI, Cuba
1771 AGI, Cuba
1774 AGI, Cuba
1777 LGR 27:367'368
Attakapas 1785 LGR 27:367'368
Attakapas 1795 AGI, Cuba
Attakapas 1799 AGI, Cuba
Attakapas 1803 AGI, Cuba
Avoyelles 1785 AGI, Cuba
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
Cabahannocer 1775 AGI, Cuba
Cabahannocer 1776 AGI, Cuba
Cabahannocer 1777 AGI, Cuba
Cabahannocer 1779 AC
Cabahannocer 1789 AGI, Cuba
Cannes Brülées 1795 AGI, Cuba
Cannes Brülées 1799 AGI, Cuba
Chapitoulas 1795 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
Iberville 1771 AGI, Cuba
Iberville 1777 LGR 27:367'368
Iberville 1772 LGR 27:367'368
Lafourche 1777 LGR 27:367'368
Lafourche 1788 LGR 27:367'368
Lafourche 1789 LGR 27:367'368
Lafourche 1791 LGR 27:367'368
Lafourche 1798 LGR 27:367'368
Louisiana Regiment 1779 LGR 27:367'368
Manchac 1777 LGR 27:367'368
Manchac 1772 LGR 27:367'368
Manchac 1791 AGI, Cuba
Manchac 1795 AGI, Cuba
Météaire 1796 MVM
Météaire 1799 AGI, Cuba
Mobile 1780 AGI, Cuba
Mobile 1781 AGI, Cuba
Mobile 1784 LGR 27:367'368
Mobile 1786 AGI, Cuba
Mobile 1787 AGI, Cuba
Mobile 1788 LGR 27:367'368
Mobile 1789 AGI, Cuba
Mobile 1795 AGI, Cuba
Mobile 1805 LGR 27:367'368
Mobile (slaves) 1787 LGR 27:367'368
Natchez 1784 LGR 27:367'368
Natchez 1787 LGR 27:367'368
Natchez 1788 LGR 27:367'368
Natchez 1792 LGR 27:367'368
Natchez 1792 899,975
Natchez 1793 AGI, Cuba
Natchez 1794 LGR 27:367'368
Natchitoches 1770 AGI, Cuba
Natchitoches 1774 AGI, Cuba
Natchitoches 1786 AGI, Cuba
Natchitoches 1795 AGI, Cuba
Natchitoches 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
Opelousas 1770 AGI, Cuba
Opelousas 1771 AGI, Cuba
Opelousas 1774 MVM
Opelousas 1777 LGR 27:367'368
Opelousas 1785 LGR 27:367'368
Opelousas 1788 LGR 27:367'368
Opelousas 1796 LGR 27:367'368
Ouachita 1790 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
Rapides 1770 AGI, Cuba
Rapides 1773 AGI, Cuba
Rapides 1789 AGI, Cuba
Rapides 1792 AGI, Cuba
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
Tinzas 1785 AGI, Cuba
Tombecbé 1797 AGI, Cuba
Valenzuela 1784 VPL
Valenzuela 1797 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.


Coming soon...

External Links