Louisiana Division/City Archives
New Orleans Public Library

Sources for Researching the History of Your House (Or Other Building) in New Orleans

City Council

Ordinances, 1769 --   (AB300/301)
From the Acts and deliberations of the Cabildo through the present, the City Archives includes copies of (or at least access to) a large segment of the body of municipal law. A good deal of this legislation relates in some way to building in general or to specific properties. The Cabildo promulgated Spanish construction rules in 1795 and such laws were added to and elaborated on until the passage of the first New Orleans building code in 1910. These ordinances help to provide an understanding of individual structures by demonstrating just what the legal requirements were at a given time.

The Council also approved specifications and contracts for work on municipal properties. On October 12, 1820, for example, the Council approved an estimate of repairs to be made to the City Hall (the Cabildo), including the type of bricks to be used in the entrance way and the exterior colors to be used. Earlier, in 1808, the body adopted the contract and estimate for construction of the public market (the Meat Market of the French Market complex).

Complete information on pre-1862 records of the various city councils can be found online at neworleanspubliclibrary.org/inv/neh/nehab.htm. All of these records are available on microfilm.

After 1862, ordinances continue to be available on microfilm until 1992. Beginning with 1992, copies of ordinances must be taken from the official journal (for this time period, the official journal is the Times-Picayune). A list of the dates when the ordinances were published in the official journal is available online at neworleanspubliclibrary.org//spec/orddates.htm.

From 1994, ordinances (begining with #16276 MCS), as well as Council Minutes, can be accessed online through Municode.com.

Specialized Indexes

Several specialized indexes to ordinances were compiled by the City Archives Department over the years. Two of these have been transcribed and are available online:

New Orleans (La.) Archives Department. Synopsis of Ordinances, 1841-1937
This is a record of city ordinances, showing the number and series, date of enactment, and a short synopsis of each ordinance.
(neworleanspubliclibrary.org/inv/synopsis/synopsis.htm; HV311 1841-1937)

Amos, Gray B. "Ordinances" Governing Origin & Names of Streets, Parks, Squares and Playgrounds, Numbering of Houses and Buildings. New Orleans, La.: City Archives Department, 1938
Each entry provides all or part of the following data: name, description, date, ordinance, and other citation.
(neworleanspubliclibrary.org/info/louinfo/noparks.htm; HV100 1938o)

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