African American Resource Center
New Orleans Public Library

African American Genealogical Research in New Orleans

As the title indicates, this guide is only an introduction to conducting African American Genealogical research in Louisiana particularly New Orleans and South Louisiana. Remember to be systematic in your research and stay organized; this will help you down the line. This introduction will get you started but remember that it takes years of painstaking research to fully trace any family, so have patience but try to have fun in the process.

Consider joining one or a few genealogy societies in the area(s) where your ancestors lived. These organizations can be very helpful when you run into a stumbling block or dead-end. Finding out more about your ancestors may give you a better appreciation of not just your own family history but for a particular area, state, and country.

This guide was written by Gregory Osborn and edited by Valencia Hawkins.

Gregory Osborn is a library associate for the New Orleans Public Library. He is a graduate of Stanford University, where he received a bachelor's degree in Anthropology: Social Sciences. Osborn has been conducting genealogy research in California and Louisiana for the past 19 years. He was a research assistant for Dr. Gwendolyn Midlo Hall in her ground breaking study of Africans and African descended people in the Spanish and early American periods of Louisiana. For the past five years, he has conducted extensive research on Louisiana's Free People of Color and enslaved populations. He is currently gathering information on the Creole Civil Rights activist, Homer Plessy and recently appeared on "CBS Sunday Morning Show" to discuss his research.

Valencia Hawkins is the Coordinator of the African American Resource Center of the New Orleans Public Library. She received an undergraduate degree in English from Xavier University of Louisiana and a master's degree in library science from Louisiana State University. Hawkins is a former assistant editor of The Black Collegian Magazine and has had several articles published in The New Orleans Tribune newspaper. Prior to developing the African American Resource Center, she worked as a branch manager of the Napoleon and Alvar Branch libraries.

Second edition

Originally printed in 1997, this manual was revised and updated in March 2005. Additions include information about the “Register of Free Colored Persons Entitled to Remain in the State 1840-1863,” updated addresses of Louisiana archives, websites and current vital statistics forms. The second edition is published by the African American Resource Center of New Orleans Public Library.

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