Louisiana Division/City Archives
New Orleans Public Library

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

City Directories & Federal Census

New Orleans City Directories

The Louisiana Division has a complete set of city directories dating back to 1805, either in the original or in microform. These volumes can be used along with the conveyances and the tax rolls to determine when and if a property owner actually began living at or operating a business at a given location. In many cases this will give another close approximation of the construction date. In addition, the directories can provide other information about the property owner such as occupation and the names of relatives. Beginning in 1938, directories include cross-reference listings by street address.

A list of city directories housed in the Louisiana Division is available at neworleanspubliclibrary.org/info/louinfo/citydir.htm

Of special interest are the Soards' Elite Books for 1890, 1898, and 1910, all of which include cross listings by street address in addition to the standard alphabetical name listings (such cross listings by street address did not become standard until the 1938 edition of the directory).

Federal Census

Beginning in 1880, the Federal census included street addresses as part of the standard form used to enumerate households in urban areas. In addition to confirming the existence of an address at a given time, the census schedules can also provide information about all of the persons living at the address, including any servants and/or boarders (whose presence might indicate something about the use of the building).

More detailed information (including a list of the Louisiana Division's holdings in census microfilm is available online at neworleanspubliclibary.org

The entire federal census is digitized and available online at www.ancestry.com. Users who wish to access Ancestry.com remotely must subscribe for a fee, but the site is freely available to any users at an New Orleans Public Library facility.

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