African American Resource Center
New Orleans Public Library

African American Genealogical Research in New Orleans
Church Records

When conducting research into events that took place in a church you should first check with the specific church where the event occurred. A list of churches in Louisiana, Roman Catholic and other denominations, can be found in the book A Guide to Church Records in Louisiana by Rev. Donald Hebert. Baptismal, marriage, death, funeral, and burial records may be obtained by writing the church where the event occurred. Fees for such records vary from church to church, usually anywhere from $2.00 to $5.00.

The pre-20th century records of the Roman Catholic Church in Louisiana have largely been centralized in the Archdiocesan archives of South Louisiana. If the event took place during the 18th or 19th century in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, the record may be obtained for a fee and by writing to the Archdiocesan Archives at 1100 Chartres St., New Orleans, LA 70116-2505. In such case, you should know the church where the event occurred, or, if not, the address or neighborhood of the person or persons for whom you are requesting information, and the approximate date of event.

Most Catholic Church records are closed to the general public for research (such as the records in the Archdiocesan Archives in New Orleans), but these records can be obtained by writing the repository or the specific church. When you write any private institution for records you should be specific and brief in your request and include a self-addressed stamped envelope. Always call ahead and ask what the institution charges for copies and research.

Abstracts of most 18th and 19th century church records have been published for New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Natchitoches, and Southwest Louisiana. Usually these published church records are of free persons although there are thousands of sacramental records of enslaved or free Africans and Louisianans of African descent in individual churches and Archdiocesan archives throughout Louisiana. For sacramental records of slaves, you will need to know as much information as possible, i.e. slave's name, owner's name, approximate date of the event, location and or area where slave lived.

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