Louisiana Division/City Archives
New Orleans Public Library

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

Surveyor's Office & City Engineer

Surveyor's Office

The City Surveyor was the official with responsibility for building matters (along with many other aspects of the municipality's physical appearance) during most of the nineteenth century. He drafted many maps and surveys for both public and private properties, he either drew up or approved plans for public edifices, and he oversaw compliance with local construction rules and regulations. A good many of his record books, plans, and maps have survived in the City Archives. Some of these may be of interest in researching a specific site or even an entire section of the city.

The pre-1862 records of the City Archives are described fully at neworleanspubliclibrary.org/inv/neh/nehkg.htm. These records are all available on microfilm. For records after 1862, please consult the archivist.

City Engineer

This office absorbed that of the Surveyor in 1890 and continued the work of that predecessor agency. The Engineer's records are filed in a separate series within the City Archives, and they tend to be arranged in a more systematic fashion as well. The greater part of the surviving documents (in addition to the building permits and blueprints described earlier) is made up of correspondence, both incoming and outgoing. The latter series is fairly well indexed and includes letters relating to projects of both the public and private sectors. In contrast to these outgoing files, the incoming letters are unindexed and not yet fully processed. They include communications from architects and contractors relative to building projects, as well as from other public officials and citizens complaining about substandard building conditions and the like.
(KJ)

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