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     

          Records Relating to   S L A V E R Y ,   F R E E   P E O P L E   O F   C O L O R ,   and   F R E E D M E N

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Slavery, Free People of Color & Freedmen
Immigration Records
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Hospital & Insanity Records
Church Records
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Additional Sources
Appendix A: Ordering By Mail
Appendix B: Genealogical Periodicals
Appendix C: Soundex/Miracode System
Appendix D: Orleans Parish Civil Courts

Slavery | Free People of Color & Freedmen

This section describes materials that are exclusively related to enslaved persons, free people of color, and freedmen. Researchers should be aware, however, that many of the sources listed elsewhere in the guide will also include information on African Americans.

Note: Additional materials relating to African American genealogy are housed in the Library’s African American Resource Center.

Records on Slavery and Enslaved Persons

Heartman Manuscripts on Slavery, 1724-1897.
Microfilm of the original Heartman collection at Xavier University. The collection includes materials from all over the U.S., but mostly from Louisiana, and especially from New Orleans. The collection is described in Xavier's Guide to the Heartman Manuscripts on Slavery [R306.362 G946], which includes index entries for surnames included. mf XU-1

New Orleans (La.) Office of the Mayor. Lists of Slaves Imported for Sale in the City of New Orleans, 1831.     Finding Aid
The Conseil de Ville in 1831 required that any person importing slaves from other states into the city for sale first make a declaration before the Mayor. The declarations were to show the number of slaves imported, along with the sex, age, name, and place of origin of each individual slave. The records are manuscript declarations by the master of the ship carrying the slaves or by the person to whom the slaves were consigned. In addition to the data called for in the ordinance, each list also states the name of the ship and its place of origin and date of arrival. [Filed under call number mf AA253]

This record is indexed in L’Heritage, vol. 10.

Louisiana. Parish Court (Orleans Parish). Declarations of Individuals Importing Slaves into New Orleans, 1831-1833
Manuscript declarations of owners introducing slaves into New Orleans, with their assurances that the slaves would not be sold or otherwise disposed of in violation of state law. Slaves are listed by name, sex, and "color." Each declaration notes the place from which the master and slaves migrated. Each is signed by the owner and endorsed and dated by the judge of Parish Court as well as by the clerk of the court. They are arranged in chronological order by date of filing. VCP252 1831-1833 Unfilmed

New Orleans (La.) Office of the Mayor. Passports, 1818-1831.     Finding Aid
At the rear of one volume of records kept by the Mayor is a section recording passports issued during the period August 24, 1818 – March 15, 1831. These were given to free persons of color to travel outside New Orleans (and presumably to be able to legally reenter the city) or to white masters who wished to take their slaves on journeys with them. In some cases, the individuals of color are described by age and/or physical appearance. There is a name index to the first 18 pages of passports. [Filed under call number mf AA420 1812; 1818-1831]

Slave Emancipation Records

Louisiana. Parish Court (Orleans Parish). Emancipation Petitions, 1813-1843.     Finding Aid
As president of the Police Jury, the Parish Judge received slave emancipation petitions and presented them to the Jury for consideration [see below for a description of the Police Jury records]. He retained the original documents, which, in addition to the petitions themselves, sometimes include letters, public notices, and extracts from other records. The Parish Court records include petitions that are not duplicated in the Police Jury documents; it is likely that the reverse is true as well. mf VCP320

  An index to the Parish Court emancipation records is available online at neworleanspubliclibrary.org/inv/vcp/emancip.htm.

Orleans Parish (La.) Police Jury. Petitions for the Emancipation of Slaves, 1827-1846.     Finding Aid
In 1827 the state legislature gave the Police Jury of Orleans Parish responsibility for consideration of petitions for the emancipation of slaves. The Jury exercised this power until 1846 when the body was abolished and emancipation petitions became the responsibility of the municipality councils.

The Archives holds three volumes of the Police Jury's proceedings in emancipation matters, 1827-1846. A fourth volume indexes the emancipation proceedings. The actual petitions were retained by the Judge of the Parish Court who also served as the president of the Police Jury. The Jury's record books merely record the actions taken on each petition, identifying the petitioning slave owner by name, as well as naming the slave(s) in question and giving their ages and, sometimes, racial designation (negro, mulatto, etc.) In some cases, several slaves were being freed together; where relationships existed between or among them, they are noted in the record. mf VJA320

New Orleans (La.). First Municipality Council. Emancipation Docket, 1846-1851.     Finding Aid
With the abolishment of the Police Jury for the Left (East) Bank of Orleans Parish in 1846, responsibility for controlling the emancipation of slaves fell to the three municipality councils. For the First Municipality Council there is one volume of Emancipation Records, covering the period July 1, 1846 – July 7, 1851, recording chronologically the deliberations of the Council in matters of slave emancipations. Generally, the record for each emancipation includes the name of the owner desiring to emancipate and the name of the slave(s) being emancipated (sometimes with their age and color included). [Filed under call number mf AB300 1823-1836 sec sess.]

New Orleans (La.) Third Municipality Council. Ordinances and Resolutions.     Finding Aid
Subseries II. v. 1 April 30, 1836 – December 28, 1836
One book in the records of the Third Municipality Council’s Ordinances and Resolutions records slave emancipations before the Council, June 29, 1846 – March 3, 1851. These records include copies of the petitions for emancipation (giving name of petitioner, name, and age of the slave(s), and date of consideration of the petition) and a record of the proceedings ratifying decisions initially made on each petition. The records are microfilmed and filed under call number mf AB310 1836 at the end of vol.1 of subseries II.

New Orleans (La.). Office of the Mayor. Slaves Emancipated by the Councils of Municipalities One, Two, and Three, 1846- 1850.     Finding Aid
Records the names of slaves emancipated by the First Municipality Council for the period 1846-1850. This book also contains loose sheets with the names of emancipated slaves from the Second and Third Municipalities. Generally the records show the names of owners, names of slaves (along with age and, in some cases, "color"), and date of council approval. mf AA205.

Note: In 1855, the civil courts assumed jurisdiction over slave emancipations.


Records Relating to Free People of Color and Freedmen

New Orleans (La.) Office of the Mayor. Register of Free Persons of Color Entitled to Remain in the State, 1840-1864.     Finding Aid
In 1830, the Louisiana Legislature passed an act "to prevent free persons of color from entering into this state." Section 12 of this act required initially that "all free negroes, griffs and mulattoes of the first degree" who had entered the state after the adoption of the Constitution of 1812 and before January 1, 1825 to enroll themselves with the office of the Parish Judge of their resident parish or with the office of the Mayor of the City of New Orleans.

The records, volume 1 in French and English, volumes 2 – 4 in English, list the name of the person registering, sex, and color, age, profession, place of birth, time of arrival in the state (or date of emancipation), and "observations" or "remarks." The observations or remarks consist, in general, of a statement substantiating the person's claim to be free. mf AA430.

  A list of names appearing in the register is available online at www.lecomite.org/indexes/FPOCIndex.txt. Note that this list is an index to a transcription of the register published by Le Comité des Archives de la Louisiane. The page numbers given in the index refer to the published transcription, not to the manuscript register which is available on microfilm.

United States. National Archives and Records Service. Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Louisiana, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands.
Includes registers of Freedmen's applications for land, giving individual names and information on family members. These registers are on roll 34 of the series. Also on that roll are records relating to the victims of various "murders and outrages" committed in the state. Rolls 34, 35, and 36 of this series contain records of personnel employed by the Bureau in Louisiana. mf M1027

United States. National Archives and Records Service. Records of the Superintendent of Education for the State of Louisiana, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1864-1869
Rolls 3 and 4 of the M1026 series include educational reports containing the names of some teachers in the Freedmen's schools. mf M1026 and M1027

United States. National Archives and Records Service. Registers of Signatures of Depositors in Branches of the Freedmen's Savings and Trust Co., 1865-1874.
This series includes, for Louisiana and several other states, the following information for each depositor: account number, name, age, complexion, place of birth, place raised, name of former master/mistress, residence, occupation, names of parents/spouse/children/siblings, remarks, and signatures. mf M816.

  These records have been digitized and are available at www.ancestry.com (subscription only) and at Ancestry Library Edition, accessible in all NOPL facilities.

Also available is the five-roll index to the Registers. mf M817