G U I D E    T O    G E N E A L O G I C A L    M A T E R I A L S     
in the New Orleans Public Library's Louisiana Division & City Archives     

          New Orleans   P O L I C E   D E P A R T M E N T   Records
C O N T E N T S

Guide to Genealogical Materials Home
Introduction
Selected Books
Louisiana Library Connection Databases
Newspapers/Indexes/Obituaries
Periodicals
Note on Vital Records
Birth Records
Death Records
Burial Records
Marriage Records
Civil Records (Parishes other than Orleans)
Census Records
Orleans Parish Civil Court Records
Slavery, Free People of Color & Freedmen
Immigration Records
Naturalization Records
Hospital & Insanity Records
Church Records
Military Records
Land Records
Voter Registration Records
Employment Records
New Orleans Police Department Records
Records of Correctional Institutions
Additional Sources
Appendix A: Ordering By Mail
Appendix B: Genealogical Periodicals
Appendix C: Soundex/Miracode System
Appendix D: Orleans Parish Civil Courts

The Archives holds records of local police agencies dating from as early as the 1820s. It was not until the 1880s, though, that the records included any information that might be considered to be useful for genealogical researchers. Keep in mind that not all persons who were arrested were really criminals – some were taken into custody by mistake, some were accused of minor crimes or misdemeanors, and some were guilty of such “crimes” as “insulting a white person” or “singing and dancing with slaves.” Four series of police records will be of interest for at least some family histories.

New Orleans (La.) Police Dept. Arrest Records, 1881-1966.     Finding Aid
The arrest books are arranged in chronological order within each of the city’s police precincts (later districts). All or some of the following data is provided for each arrest recorded in these volumes: name of arrestee, residence address, color, age, sex, nationality of arrestee and of arrestee’s parents, occupation, marital status, literacy status, nature of complaint, place of arrest, names of officer(s) making the arrest, date of arrest, and disposition of the case. Many entries also include references to releases or paroles of the arrested individuals, including the name of the party who arranged the release or parole (in some cases there may be a family relationship between the arrestee and the paroling party). mf TP35

Two series of alphabetically arranged arrest cards serve as an index to these records for the periods 1914-1947 and 1948- 1954. Each card refers to a single arrest and provides enough information to enable the researcher to find the actual arrest record. The arrest cards are separated by race, with the names of “colored” persons arranged following the others. mf TP35

New Orleans (La.) Police Dept. Rosters, ca. 1882-1946.     Finding Aid
The rosters include all or part of the following information: name, age, height, complexion, nationality, occupation before joining the Department, marital status, grade within the Department, date appointed and assigned, date(s) of transfer(s), date(s) of promotion(s) or reduction(s), date of death, resignation, or dismissal, and cause of dismissal. The dates shown for the individual volumes are approximate. Unfilmed
v. 1 – 1889-1914
v. 2 – 1882-1896
v. 3 – 1889-1929
v. 4 – 1906-1946 (A-L)
v. 5 – 1906-1946 (M-Z)
v. 6 – 1906-1946 (M-Z)

New Orleans (La.) Police Dept. Mug Shots and Bertillon Cards, ca. 1900-1925
Among the New Orleans Police Department records deposited in the City Archives are several thousand mug shots of individuals arrested in the city ca. 1900 to 1925. The NOPD records also include some 700 "Bertillon cards" and several thousand glass negatives used to create mug shots.

The mug shots are 2 ½” x 4” cards with a photograph of the arrestee on one side and the following information on the reverse: identification number (this appears on both sides of the card), name, alias(es), date photograph taken, residence, occupation, criminal occupation, nativity, age, height, complexion, eyes (color), hair (color and appearance), beard, name of arresting officer(s), and other distinguishing features (scars, moles, teeth, and other observations, e. g., “bites nails.”). Photocopies of the mug shots are available to researchers.

The Bertillon cards are larger (6” x 6 ½”, 8” x 8”, and other sizes). They include the same information as the mug shots along with detailed facial measurements and descriptions. Later Bertillon cards also include fingerprints. Both series of records are arranged alphabetically by name of arrestee. The Archives also holds several thousand 4 ¼” x 5 ½” glass plate negatives of persons arrested by the Department (the individual’s identification number is the only information included on the negatives). Neither the Bertillon cards nor the glass plate negatives are available for browsing; researchers must have previous knowledge of an arrest and/or an identification number in order to gain access to the original items.


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