City Archives
New Orleans Public Library

Records Relating to the Public Safety of New Orleans
The photograph at right is from The New Orleans Police Department, 1900

  • Records of the Commissaries
    • Commissary of the Second District.
      • Census of the Second District of the city of New Orleans, 1804.
    • Commissaries of Police.
    • Commissaries of Police for the Second Municipality.
    • Commissary's Office (Carrollton).
      • Census of inhabitants, 1854-1857.
  • Records of the Police Departments
    • City Guard
      • Reports of the captain of the Guard, 1826-1836
    • First Municipality Guard
      • Reports of the captain of the Guard, 1836-1846.
    • Day Police and Night Watch of the Second Municipality
      • Reports of the captain, 1840-1852.
    • Third Municipality Guard.
    • Department of Police
  • Fire Alarm and Police Telegraph

TK840
1804

New Orleans (La.) Commissary of the Second District.

Census of the Second District of the City of New Orleans, 1804.

1 v.
On April 19, 1804, Governor William C.C. Claiborne wrote to the Mayor and Municipality of New Orleans asking that in order to assist in the reorganization of the militia in New Orleans, a census be made of "all free male white inhabitants of this city, between the ages of eighteen and forty-five." In the Municipal Council session of April 21, 1804, Mayor Bore informed the Council of the governor's request and, at that time, "one of the members" proposed that "a general census of the inhabitants of both sexes in the City and Banlieu of New Orleans" also be taken. The Council agreed and appointed Messrs. Faurie, Petit, and Donaldson as Commissaries, or Commissioners, instructing them "to select persons capable to make this General Census." On April 25, 1804, the Council resolved "that the Commissioners of the Districts ['Commissaires de Quartier'] will be notified that they are authorized to take a capable person to assist them in taking the Census of the Citizens of the City and Banlieu of New Orleans, and that they shall be granted up to $50.00 as indeminification."

Two additional references to this census appear in the Municipal Council proceedings: a complaint on May 30, 1804 that the census had been delayed by Commissaries who failed to send in their census ("in particular that of Mr. Randall") and a resolution on June 6, 1804 that the Governor be furnished with "a general recapitulation of the number of individuals able to carry arms, including the census of the commissioners and census of the Syndics of the districts and other informations he may desire on the subject. . . ."

Of this material, only the census of the "2nd Quartier" has survived in the City Archives. It is not clear from the record or from available sources what area of the city was encompassed by the Second District. It may correspond to the "Second Ward," identified in the Deliberations of the Cabildo as follows: "From [Cavilier's] residence on Orleans Street to Bourbon Street--follow the sidewalk to Bienville Street--down to the river, and up to the Plaza, ending at the Capital House."

The record is a bound volume in English and French, signed "H.A. Heins, Commissaire de 2d Quartier" and dated June 1, 1804. The census counts residents in three broad categories: whites, free persons of color, and slaves. For whites and free persons of color, the following information is recorded: the names of male residents (sometimes only a surname) and their wives (usually listed only as "Madame ...") or other adult women living in the household, the profession and employment of the male (the distinction between these two categories is blurred), the age of males and females, the number of boys and girls living in the household, and, usually, their ages. The number of male and female adult and juvenile slaves slaves in each household is also tallied; no names are recorded for slaves. A final column, labelled "Observations," indicates the head of household's military status, listing the company in which he served (e.g. "Capt. Chew's," "Fire Co.," "Orleans Ranger") or describes his rank (e.g. "Officier de milice," "Officer of Dragoons"); one entry in this column reads "lame at present"; several other notes indicate that a person intends to leave the City. On several occasions, for free persons of color, the column contains a brief note about the circumstances under which the person was freed.

Originally described and filmed as "Mayor's Office. Census of the City of New Orleans, 1804." Presently available as part of one roll of 35mm microfilm, roll #1309932, filed under the call number noted above.

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TK

New Orleans (La.) Commissaries of Police.

Reports, 1816-1817; 1835-1837.

3 v.

The Conseil de Ville, by resolution of March 14, 1805, authorized the Mayor to appoint commissaries for the various districts of the city. While the resolution does not go into detail as to duties and responsibilities, it does suggest that a similar system had existed during the Spanish regime and that its success made it worthy of continuation. Shortly thereafter, on April 4, 1805, the Council set salaries for the Commissaries, identifying a Commissary General, an Assistant Commissary, and four Constables. These officers were to be appointed by the Mayor. On June 12, 1811 another resolution called for the reduction of the number of Commissaries from four to two, a Commissary and an assistant (just when the number had been increased from two to four is unknown). That decree also reduced the number of constables from three [sic] to one, and provided that the surviving one be the Superintendent of Wagons for the city.

On November 5, 1817, the Council passed an ordinance that more formally established the Commissaries of Police. This law provided that the Mayor nominate, with Council consent, three persons of "good morals and behaviour" as Commissaries. These individuals were to take an oath before the Mayor and also were to provide a security bond in the amount of $1000. Each Commissary would reside in, and be responsible for, one of the city's three wards. They were to walk the streets and other passages of their wards; to examine vagrants, beggars, and other "idle and disorderly persons" as to their place of residence and form of livelihood (those not giving satisfactory answers were to be brought before a magistrate to be dealt with according to law); to stop runaway slaves and bring them before the proper authorities (and share in the bounty provided for by the Code Noir); to report on the performance of the City Guard within their wards; and to generally see that the ordinances for the government of the city were obeyed.

In 1824 the Commissaries were further required to superintend, on order of the Mayor, the police of balls, theatres, and public meetings in the city. By resolution in 1829 the Council also ordered them to examine the bread produced by the bakers of the city and to make reports on their examinations to the Mayor. In 1827 the number of Commissaries was increased to six. Of these two were to serve as commissaries of the two city markets, two in the second district (the Vieux Carre), and one each in the Faubourgs Marigny and St. Mary. The latter officer would also serve as Commissary of the St. Mary market, and in 1829, was given some responsibility for supervision of the public works in outlying portions of the district.

A new ordinance, passed on June 10, 1835, reiterated the Mayor's control over the Commissaries and also directed them to assist the Recorder and the Aldermen in the performance of their duties. This law also required the Commissaries to keep a record book of their rounds; the book to be available for review by the Mayor, Recorder, and Aldermen, and to be deposited in the archives of the City Council when no longer in use. Another key element of this law was the provision that the Commissaries be authorized to enter private premises (with prior notice) and public places (without the need of giving prior notice).

There remains some uncertainty as to the exact relationship between the Commissaries of Police and the City Guard. The provision that the former officers report on the performance of the Guard suggests that they had some supervisory function, an interpretation that is supported by the meaning of the French term "commissaire," i.e., superintendent. The records are manuscript volumes described as follows:

Reports, 1816-1817 --
reports of slaves arrested and brought to jail, also of arrests of soldiers and sailors. Brief reports of balls, concerts, circuses, etc. are also included.

Reports to the Mayor by the Commissary of the Sixth Ward, 1835- 1836 --
includes reports of conditions in the ward and of on- going work within its limits. An example of a daily report, from March 1, 1836:
"Having gone through my district & found hands employed in cleaning up Tchoupitoulas St. from Canal to Delor St., I then put them to work in St. Joseph St. which I found in a bad state. I would be thankful to your honor if I could get some more hands & tools as five hands are not enough to fix the streets in my district. Nothing further to remark. [signed] H. Richardson"

Reports to the Mayor by the Commissary of Faubourg Marigny, 1835-1837 --
R. Montegut apparently continued in office as one of the Third Municipality Commissaries and continued to use this record book after May, 1836. A number of pages have been torn out of this volume (dates between August 20, 1836 and April 14, 1837).

Available on 35mm microfilm roll #89-178

Inventory

TK205
1816-1817

Reports, 1816-1817.

December 31, 1816 - September 27, 1817
[NOTE: There is extensive staining and bleed-through evident in the pages of this volume. The microfilm has picked up as much information as possible from the original. In some cases readability of the record can be improved by printing from the film, using the exposure controls available on the reader-printers. Consult the archivist should you encounter any problems].

TK205
1835-1836

Reports to the Mayor by the Commissary of the Sixth Ward, 1835-1836.

June 17, 1835 - April 20, 1836

TK205
1836-1837

Reports to the Mayor by the Commissary of the Faubourg Marigny, 1835-1837.

June 18, 1835 - May 13, 1837

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TK
2nd Mun

New Orleans (La.) Commissaries of Police for the Second Municipality.

Records, 1836-1851
6 v.

The Second Municipality Council on April 25, 1837 resolved that the Commissaries would be elected quarterly rather than be appointed as before. On March 19, 1844 their elective term was made annual. It appears that the duties and responsibilities of the Commissaries for the Second Municipality remained essentially as they had been under the pre-1837 laws (see the appendix to this record for a description of those duties and responsibilities). In 1838 there were five Commissaries in the municipality, one for each of the three wards, one for the market, and one for the batture. On April 13, 1847 the Council ordained that there be a commissary district for each ward, with an individual elected annually to fill the post for each district (by that time there were seven wards in the municipality).

The records are manuscript volumes as follows:

Statistics of the wards, 1851 (TK150, 4 v.)
printed forms with mss. entries; basically a census, by ward and square number, showing the number of buildings by type of construction, the number of vacant lots with fill characteristics, and remarks. Volumes are available for the first, second, fourth, and fifth wards only.

Reports of the Commissary of the Fourth Ward, 1847-1848 (TK205)
reports, April 22, 1847-February 16, 1848, of the Commissary's activities during his regular rounds. An example, from a portion of the May 20, 1847 report:
"Notified persons living in the house situated on the corner of Triton Walk and Phillipa St. to cease to throw feculent matter and kitchen offal into the street or else I shall proceed to prosecute them according to the ordinances."

Reports of the Commissary of the St. Mary Market, 1836 (TK205m)
reports, May 20-December 9, on "various subjects concerning the police of the Second Municipality," particularly to the public market. An example, from October 27, 1836:
"The bread has been weighed by me this morning, and the weight was correct. Nothing else of importance to be reported to you this date, everything has been going on very well during the market hours."

Available on one roll of 35mm microfilm, roll #89-181.

Inventory

TK150
1851

Statistics of the wards, 1851.

v. 1 First Ward
v. 2 Second Ward
v. 3 Fourth Ward
v. 4 Fifth Ward

TK205
1847-1848

Reports of the Commissary of the Fourth Ward, 1847-1848.

April 27, 1847 - February 16, 1848

TK205m
1836

Reports of the Commissary of the St. Mary Market, 1836.

May 20 - December 9, 1846

Appendix

On November 5, 1817, the Council passed an ordinance that more formally established the Commissaries of Police. This law provided that the Mayor nominate, with Council consent, three persons of "good morals and behaviour" as Commissaries. These individuals were to take an oath before the Mayor and also were to provide a security bond in the amount of $1000. Each Commissary would reside in, and be responsible for, one of the city's three wards. They were to walk the streets and other passages of their wards; to examine vagrants, beggars, and other "idle and disorderly persons" as to their place of residence and form of livelihood (those not giving satisfactory answers were to be brought before a magistrate to be dealt with according to law); to stop runaway slaves and bring them before the proper authorities (and share in the bounty provided for by the Code Noir); to report on the performance of the City Guard within their wards; and to generally see that the ordinances for the government of the city were obeyed.

In 1824 the Commissaries were further required to superintend, on order of the Mayor, the police of balls, theatres, and public meetings in the city. By resolution in 1829 the Council also ordered them to examine the bread produced by the bakers of the city and to make reports on their examinations to the Mayor. In 1827 the number of Commissaries was increased to six. Of these two were to serve as commissaries of the two city markets, two in the second district (the Vieux Carre), and one each in the Faubourgs Marigny and St. Mary. The latter officer would also serve as Commissary of the St. Mary market, and in 1829, was given some responsibility for supervision of the public works in outlying portions of the district.

A new ordinance, passed on June 10, 1835, reiterated the Mayor's control over the Commissaries and also directed them to assist the Recorder and the Aldermen in the performance of their duties. This law also required the Commissaries to keep a record book of their rounds; the book to be available for review by the Mayor, Recorder, and Aldermen, and to be deposited in the archives of the City Council when no longer in use. Another key element of this law was the provision that the Commissaries be authorized to enter private premises (with prior notice) and public places (without the need of giving prior notice).

There remains some uncertainty as to the exact relationship between the Commissaries of Police and the City Guard. The provision that the former officers report on the performance of the Guard suggests that they had some supervisory function, an interpretation that is supported by the meaning of the French term "commissaire," i.e., superintendent.

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IV
TK840
1854-1857

Carrollton (La.) Commissary's Office.

Census of inhabitants, 1854-1857.

2 v.

By ordinance of May 1, 1845, the Carrollton Council created the office of Commissary to be occupied by "a competent person elected annually...." The ordinance enumerated the duties of the office, which included the inspection of the town's streets & levees, the inspection of licenses, the arrest of runaways & vagrants, and the general police of the municipality.

By ordinance of March 11, 1846, the Council further required the Commissary to take an annual census "of the inhabitants and occupations or professions of the town." The ordinance specified the data to be collected and reported in each census. It also required that the Commissary return each census to the Secretary of the Council, who would file it in the archives following its acceptance by the Council.

Two manuscript census volumes survive in the City Archives Collection. The first includes entries for the years 1854 and 1855, arranged alphabetically by first letter of inhabitants' surnames. As provided for by the ordinance, the censuses record the name of each head of household, the numbers (by sex and age group) of persons living in each household, and the profession or occupation of each household head. The record also indicates the number of voters living in each household. Totals are shown for each letter of the alphabet; these are recapitulated at the end of the volume. Also at the end of the book are lists of slaveholders in the town, showing the number of slaves owned by each. In addition to the records of 1854 and 1855 (which are entered in ink) there are also pencil entries for the year 1872. The latter provide the same data as the earlier records, except, of course, for slaveholdings.

The second volume, covering 1856 and 1857 contains essentially the same data recorded in the earlier document. Entries for these years are in ink and there are also later (undated) pencil entries. The pencil entries do, however, include listings of slaveowners, thus suggesting a pre-1864 date. The recapitulations for 1856 and 1857 are dated and signed by Peter Stoulig, Commissary. This volume is available as item 2 of 35mm microfilm roll #906363, filed under call number AA820 1822.

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TKD205
1826-1836

New Orleans (La.) City Guard.

Reports of the captain of the Guard, 1826-1836.

6 v.

The 1805 city charter provided that the "Mayor shall superintend the police of the said city, and make regulations for the watchmen and city guard." This Guard was formally organized by ordinance dated May 18, 1805,initially composed of a captain, a lieutenant, a sergeant, three corporals, and thirty-two gendarmes, all of whom agreed to serve for a minimum of three years. Approximately one-half of the force served as a mounted police until later in the year when a Council resolution did away with the mounted unit. The captain was in command of the Guard, but it was always subject to the orders of the Mayor. Subsequent ordinances and resolutions increased the size of the Guard,directed it to operate in various sections of the city, and specified particular duties for its members. These duties included arresting slaves who were out at night without permission of their masters; ringing the church bells on the hour and when fires were discovered; making regular rounds, during which they were to enforce the general police regulations; and standing watch at theatre performances and other "spectacles."

An ordinance dated November 5, 1817 required Guard members to enter into a security bond with a solvent person to ensure their good conduct and punctuality. It also divided the city into three districts with a guardhouse in each. A depot of muskets at each guardhouse was controlled by the captain. That legislation further specified duties of the force with respect to the arrest of those disturbing the peace, vagrants, soldiers,sailors, and slaves breaking curfew, and runaway slaves. The Guard also saw to the closure of coffeehouses and other establishments at the stated hours,inspected the city's lamps, and assisted Guard units in other districts when disturbances broke out. During the day a detachment of men at each Guardhouse was at the disposal of the Mayor and Recorder, and was to assist the Commissaries of Police and any citizen in need of aid.

Later legislation provided for: the city's lamplighters to function as members of the Guard when not lighting lamps (1821); the reestablish- ment of a small mounted force (1833); and the formation of a three-member committee, appointed by the Recorder, to examine every officer on the force and to dismiss those who did not understand and speak both English and French (1835). On February 6, 1836, just prior to passage of the city's second charter, a new ordinance organized a City Watch to assume the duties of the Guard. The very detailed provisions of this legislation were in effect for only a brief period, if indeed they were implemented at all.

Manuscript daily reports, in French, of the captain of the Guard or, in his absence, of another officer. In some instances separate reports for specific posts, additional documents, or comments in English are also included. Most of the reports are made up of arrest records, with name, offense, and location given. In some cases the disposition of the matter is also indicated. Arrests of slaves or free persons of color are distinguished by the absence of surnames and/or the use of a lighter shade of ink. The final volume (1835-1836) continues with reports of the Guard of the First Municipality.

Available on three rolls of 35mm microfilm, see the following inventory for roll numbers.

Inventory

TKD 205
1826-1836

New Orleans (La.) City Guard.

Reports of the captain of the Guard, 1826-1836.

[mf roll #89-221]
v.1 January 1, 1826 - December 31, 1826
[Notes: 1) There is no page 235 in the original volume.
2) The reverse of the insert that is page 461 was not filmed. The original reads, "[?] Mr. [?] deroulier bien faire dans quinze coups defauts."
3) The page 461 insert covers a portion of page 463, which reads, "vis-a-vis la rue St. Pierre mis ala Salle de Police."
v.2 December 30, 1827 - December 30, 1828

[mf roll #89-222]
v.3 January 1, 1829 - January 1, 1830
v.4 January 1, 1830 - January 1, 1831

[mf roll #89-223]
v.5 January 1, 1834 - March 27, 1835
v.6 March 28, 1835 - December 31, 1836
[Notes: 1) A portion of page 238 is covered by an insert. The covered portion reads, "James White, la malle a ete remise par Harper."
2) A portion of page 368 is covered by an insert. The covered portion reads, "Daniel D. Berger, com'd until further [sic] delivered by due course ... John Slinck est temoin ... Thomas Mackey demeurant ... Jn. Louis ... Mary O'Bell sent before Judge Preval."]

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TKD 205
1836-1846
1st Mun

New Orleans (La.) First Municipality Guard.

Reports of the captain of the Guard, 1836-1846.

5 v.

By ordinance of May 13, 1836 the force of the First Municipality Guard was set at one captain, one lieutenant, two sergeants, forty privates, and ten lamplighters. This force apparently operated according to existing ordinances until the passage of new legislation officially organizing the Guard on February 24, 1837. That law increased the size of the force and provided that it be composed of men "in good condition to serve, intelligent, and speaking French and English." These men were to be controlled by the captain, but were always at the orders of the Mayor, Recorder, and Aldermen. The force was divided among posts at the City Hall, in the Faubourg Treme, and at Bayou St. John. Its officers were appointed by the Mayor, with Council consent; the other members were named by the captain, with the consent of the Mayor. All were required to give security to assure the faithful performance of duties and to swear to enforce the laws of the Municipality.

By ordinance of July 27, 1840 the Guard was reorganized (the legislation referred to the body as the Department of Police) into a night watch and a day police. Both branches were under the command of the captain, who held the title "high constable" in connection with his day police duties. The captain was to keep a record of the officers and men under his command and was also to maintain a general record of all police activities. The lieutenant at the post of the Faubourg Treme was also to submit daily reports of activities to the captain.

The night watch was to assemble at sunset and remain on duty until daylight; the men were also to report for duty during the day when called out by the Mayor or Recorder. They were to arrest slaves out at night without passes; to arrest suspicious persons; to report on the lamps; to order the closing of cabarets "after gunfire;" to arrest offenders causing any breach of the peace; and to sound the alarm for fires. An armory of muskets and swords at each watch house was to be used only when conditions warranted, as determined by the Mayor or other responsible officer.

The day police was composed of a number of privates who formed a corps of constables. They were to perform such duties as were required by their superiors and were also to attend to fires occurring at night. The high constable was to report daily to the Mayor and Recorder on matters relating to the police and was also to keep a register of the arrival of strangers under suspicious circumstances. He was assisted by the lieutenants of the watch.

Manuscript volumes, in French until the reorganization (August,1840) and in English thereafter. Included are records of arrests, giving the date, name of arrestee, time, location, arresting officers, possessions on the person of the arrestee, and the name of the person making the complaint. The names of slaves and free persons of color arrested are listed in separate columns from those of others. Also included are reports of guard members absent or in neglect of their duties and of such matters as balls operating without permission and carts and other vehicles operating against the laws in force.

Available on three rolls of 35mm microfilm, see the following inventory for roll numbers.

Inventory

TKD 205
1836-1846
1st Mun

New Orleans (La.) First Municipality Guard.

Reports of the captain of the Guard, 1836-1846.

[mf roll #89-266]
v.1 December 31, 1836 - January 31, 1839
v.2 January 31, 1839 - November 29, 1840

[mf roll #89-267]
v.3 November 25, 1841 - March 22, 1843
v.4 March 22, 1843 - February 12, 1844

[mf roll #89-268]
v.5 February 4, 1845 - December 16, 1846

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TKD 205
1840-1852
2nd Mun

New Orleans (La.) Day Police and Night Watch of the Second Municipality.

Reports of the captain, 1840-1852.

5 v.

An ordinance of July 1, 1836 established a Night Watch for the Second Municipality composed of one captain, one first lieutenant, one second lieutenant, three sergeants, and forty-nine watchmen. The men were to be under the supervision of the captain, who also had charge of the arms and other property of the Watch. He was to submit a report to the Recorder each morning of the previous night's proceedings (a copy also went to the Mayor) and was to keep a register of the Watch and its activities. The force was always at the orders of the captain and was also to report for duty during the day whenever called upon by the Mayor or Recorder. It was divided between posts at the Municipality Hall (1st and 2nd wards) and in the 3rd ward. The officers were required to give security to assure the faithful performance of duties and all members of the Watch were to swear to enforce the laws of the Municipality.

By ordinance of June 28, 1836 a High Constable was to be elected to serve as head of the Day Police. He was required to be in attendance at the Recorder's Court daily and was charged with distributing the other constables to best serve the peace and quiet and safety of the citizenry. The High Constable was also to employ "intelligent and discreet persons" to function as a secret police. Each day he was to report any police matters to the Recorder and was to keep a register of free persons of color and suspicious strangers.

The members of the Night Watch were to walk their beats continuously while on duty. They were to arrest slaves out at night without passes; to arrest suspicious persons; to report on the lamps; to order the closing of cabarets "after gunfire"; to arrest offenders causing any breach of the peace; and to sound the alarm for fires. The armory was to be used only when conditions warranted, as determined by the Recorder or the commanding officer.

Later ordinances provided for: the arrest of vendors out after 11 PM without passes and of slaves and free persons of color even with passes (1838); the captain to hire an armorer to keep the weapons in good order (1838); and the captain's responsibility for sounding the municipality's bells in case of fire (1842). Various legislation also provided for watchmen to be stationed at the St. Mary Market, at the basin of the navigation canal, and along the river to watch for ships discharging substances into the water.

Manuscript volumes, in English. Included are records of arrests, giving the date, name of arrestee, time, location, arresting officers, possessions on the person of the arrestee, and the name of the person making the complaint. The names of slaves and free persons of color arrested are listed in separate columns from those of others. Also included are reports of guard members absent or in neglect of their duties and of such matters as vendors operating without permission. Separate reports for the post of the third ward are also included.

Available on two rolls of 35mm microfilm, see the following inventory for roll numbers.

Inventory

TKD205
1840-1852
2nd Mun

New Orleans (La.) Day Police and Night Watch of the Second Municipality.

Reports of the captain, 1840-1852.

[mf roll #89-212]
v.1 April 21, 1840 - December 24, 1840
v.2 December 25, 1840 - August 11, 1841
v.3 August 12, 1841 - April 7, 1842

[mf roll #89-213]
v.4 June 1, 1844 - April 24, 1845
v.5 August 28, 1851 - April 27, 1852

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TKD 205
1836-1852
3rd Mun

New Orleans (La.) Third Municipality Guard.

Records, 1836-1852.

14 v.

Two series: reports of the captain, 1836-1850 (13 v., TKD205) and beat roll, 1851-1852 (1 v., TKD430).

A resolution of the Third Municipality Council passed on April 20,1837 set the size of the municipality's Guard at forty-five men and seven officers, including a captain, three chiefs of post, and three assistant chiefs. This force was divided among a main post, a post in the Third District, and one in the Fourth District, extending to the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. On April 13, 1840 the Council reduced the number of men to fifteen while keeping the same number of officers. That legislation also eliminated a portion of the Guard that had been mounted. The lamplighters of the municipality apparently also served Guard time until a resolution of August 13, 1840 decreased their numbers and exempted them from such duty. On September 13, 1841 the Council abolished the Commissaries of Police for the Second District and ordered the Guard to assume their responsibilities.

On May 2, 1842 the Council resolved that Guard members had to be citizens of the U.S., speakers of English and French, and residents of the municipality. They were to be recommended by at least two other citizens as "honest, sober, and industrious" persons. They were also required to give a security bond to the Recorder to guarantee the faithful execution of their duties. The captain was to inspect all of the municipality's posts nightly and report any infractions by the men to the Recorder.

By ordinance of June 3, 1844 the Council reorganized the police of the municipality into a Night Watch and a Day Police. The former was composed of a captain, a lieutenant, a sub-lieutenant, two sergeants, and twenty-five men, divided among a main post, a post in Faubourg Washington, and one on the Bayou Road. The captain served at the main post and was responsible for distributing the men, taking care of the weapons, reporting daily to the Recorder (with a copy to the Mayor), and appearing at the Recorder's Court with the prisoners apprehended by the Watch. He was to keep a register of Watch officers and men and a journal of all police activities. All Watch members had to give proof of their citizenship and be able to read and write as well as speak English and French fluently.

The watchmen were to make continuous rounds while on duty; to arrest slaves out at night without passes and other suspicious persons; to report on lamps that were out; to order saloon-keepers to close at the proper hour; to arrest offenders causing disturbances; and to assist other officers in need. A supply of weapons at each watch house was to be used only in case of disturbances and when ordered by the Recorder, Mayor or other superior officer.

The Day Police established by the 1844 ordinance consisted of eight men under the command of the captain of the Night Watch, assisted by his subordinate officers. The captain was to place the members of this force where they were needed to assure peace and the protection of private property. He was to report daily to the Recorder and keep a register of free persons of color and of suspicious strangers.

Manuscript volumes, in French until July, 1840, and in English thereafter. The reports are divided into two subseries: volumes maintained in the Mayor's Office and those maintained in the Recorder's Office. The books in each subseries include records of arrests, giving the date, name of arrestee, time, location, arresting officers, possessions on the person of the arrestee, and the name of the person making the complaint. The names of slaves and free persons of color arrested are listed in separate columns from those of others. Also included are reports of guard members absent or in neglect of their duties and of such matters as balls operating without permission and carts and other vehicles operating against the laws in force. The Recorder's books also include reference to the final disposition of at least some of the cases. There are no volumes in the Mayor's subseries prior to May, 1838, or from July, 1841 to March, 1845. The Recorder's subseries is lacking coverage from September, 1839 to June, 1846.

The beat book contains daily lists of officers and the beats to which they were assigned. In the rear of the volume there are also records of expenses for June and July, 1853, as well as other miscellaneous records.

Available on five rolls of 35mm microfilm, see the following inventory for roll numbers.

Inventory

TKD205m
1836-1850
3rd Mun

Records, 1836-1852.

Mayor's Books, 1838-1850.

[mf roll #89-214]
v. 1 May 16, 1838 - April 23, 1840
v. 2 April 23, 1840 - July 18, 1841
v. 3 March 24, 1845 - May 9, 1846

[mf roll #89-215]
v. 4 May 9, 1846 - January 1, 1847
v. 5 October 1, 1847 - May 16, 1848
v. 6 May 17, 1848 - May 25, 1849

[mf roll #89-216]
v. 7 May 25, 1849 - July 5, 1850

Recorder's Books, 1836-1850.

v. 1 May 10, 1836 - December 16, 1837
v. 2 December 16, 1837 - September 25, 1839

[mf roll #89-217]
v. 3 June 22, 1846 - May 31, 1847
[Note: There is no p. 187 in the original volume. There is no p. 444 in the original volume.]
v. 4 November 9, 1847 - July 1, 1848
v. 5 July 1, 1848 - May 16, 1849

[mf roll #89-218]
v. 6 May 16, 1849 - June 15, 1850

TKD430
1851-1852
3rd Mun

Beat roll of the municipality, 1851-1852.

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TB

New Orleans (La.) Department of Police.

Records, 1852-1868.

Ordinance #25, approved on May 14, 1852, established a Department of Police with the Mayor as its chief executive. The Mayor was to prepare rules and regulations for the department, subject to the approval of the Common Council. Legal voters who could read and understand English were eligible for membership on the force. A chief of police was responsible to the Mayor for the efficiency, general conduct, and good order of the department. He was to keep in his office such books as were necessary to record all police business and was also to keep a register of all free persons of color in the city (independent of the registers kept by the Mayor). The captains of each municipal district were also to keep such books as required by the Mayor and chief.

The state legislature, by act of April 11, 1853, created a Police Board, consisting of the Mayor and the Recorders of each municipal district. This body was to exercise appointment and dismissal powers over all police officers. Act #25 of 1856, however, repealed the 1853 legislation and, presumably, abolished the Police Board.

Ordinance #2100 of 1855 required that prospective police officers had to be recommended to the Mayor by at least three freeholders of New Orleans and also had to have been two years resident in the city and a citizen of the United States. Those officers who were to serve in the districts below Canal Street had to be able to speak French as well as English. All officers were further required to give bond and security to the Mayor for the faithful performance of their duties. This ordinance also set the size of the force at 265, including 250 policemen, ten sergeants, four lieutenants, and one captain.

Later ordinances increased the numbers of the force and apparently also made the captain the chief of police and the lieutenants, captains. Other laws called for the assignment of special officers to serve in the following capacities: syndic for the rural portion of the Third District; special policeman for the Milneburg resort on Lake Pontchartrain (also in the Third District); and as superintendent of the horse market in the First District.

The duties and responsibilities of the police were expressed in both general and specific terms. Among the expressed duties were the following:

-- to inspect bread baked and offered for sale in the city;
-- to report illegal awnings and sheds over the sidewalks;
-- to enforce orders issued by the Board of Health;
-- to arrest persons playing music in any establishment where liquors were sold, to order the closing of such businesses in time of riot or other public disturbance, to arrest slaves drinking or playing cards in cabarets or on the street, and to arrest white and colored persons drinking or playing cards together;
-- to fire the evening guns in the first district;
-- to ring the fire bells in case of fires and to keep onlookers away from fire fighters;
-- to arrest "lewd women" frequenting coffee houses, cabarets, and such establishments;
-- to enforce the laws relative to the slaughterhouses by weekly visits to each;
-- to arrest slaves living away from their masters and to enforce other laws passed for the control of slaves.

More general provisions made the police, along with other public officers, responsible for enforcing local ordinances against a variety of offenses and nuisances.

Following the Civil War and the suspension of civil government in New Orleans the department was reorganized by ordinance #16 in 1866. Under this legislation the force numbered 500 policemen along with a chief, four aids, and four lieutenants. The chief was entrusted with the general supervision and control of the department, subject to the Mayor's approval. The Mayor retained responsibility for preparing the rules and regulations for the force. A Police Commission, created by state act in the same year, was to act as a tribunal to hear charges brought against policemen and to suspend or dismiss those found guilty. The qualifications of police officers basically remained the same, except that citizenship of at least five years duration was now required.

Subsequent legislation authorized the Mayor to appoint officers to serve as river police, to patrol the City Park, and to staff a police station near the barracks. The commissaries of the various markets were required to wear police badges. All of these men were subject to the control of the chief of police.

This force exercised the police power in New Orleans until the passage of the Metropolitan Police acts of 1868/1869 and the March 5, 1869 act that specifically prohibited the Mayor from wielding any police authority in the city. The city charter of 1870 did provide for a department of police, provided that it have no power in conflict with the Metropolitan Police. Following the dismantling of the Metropolitan force in 1877, ordinance #3889 of that year reconstituted the local department as the Crescent City Police under the control of the Mayor and an Administrator of Police. Ordinance #3914 later detailed the duties and responsibilities of the police, but the departmental organization was essentially the same as it had been in 1866.

This department remained in place until 1889 when a new force was organized along the principles of act #63 of 1888. For the first time police officers were required to have physical and moral qualifications. That essentially marked the beginning of the modern New Orleans Police Department.

The records of the Department of Police are arranged in the following series:

Reports, including arrests, 1852-1864 (11 v.)
Personnel records, 1852-1869 (13 v.)
Minutes of the Board of Police, 1854-1856 (2 v.)
Certificates of arrest for runaway slaves, 1852 (1 v.)

Related materials are in the records of the Recorder's Courts, the Office of the Mayor, and the Metropolitan Police Board. Records of the post- Metropolitan department, prior to 1889, remain within the TB (Department of Police) grouping pending reclassification.

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TB205a
1852-1864

New Orleans (La.) Dept. of Police.

Reports, including arrests,

12 v.

Manuscript volumes of reports made by police officers of arrests, nuisances, and other matters encountered on their daily rounds. Also included are reports of absent officers and other personnel concerns. All volumes, except for the final (1862-1864) one for the Second District, are for the Third Municipal District. Several of the books appear to be records of original entry (two have bindings marked "Blotter") and of these two contain records of the day police only. The other volumes appear to be copies made from original records, probably to be kept in either the office of the Chief of Police or in the office of the captain of the district (several books are marked "Main Post, Third District").

The reports generally include the names of persons arrested (in some volumes the names of white and black arrestees are listed in separate columns), dates, places, and times of arrests, names of arresting officers, brief descriptions of the offenses, and, in some cases, lists of items in the possession of the arrestees and information on the disposition of the case. Also included are records of persons being held for safe-keeping, of lost children found by the officers, of buildings found to be in unsafe condition, of house searches, of stray animals, and of illegal vehicles. Data relating to personnel include names of officers absent or on leave, names of supernumeraries on duty, and names of officers who were drunk or otherwise derelict in their duties.

Available on five rolls of 35mm microfilm, see the following inventory for roll numbers.

Inventory

TB205a
1852-1863
3rd Dist.

New Orleans (La.) Department of Police.

Reports of arrests, Third District, 1852-1863

[mf roll #90-148]
"Blotters"
Day and night police
v. 1 August 19, 1852 - June 2, 1853
v. 2 May 4, 1856 - April 4, 1857

[mf roll #90-149]
v. 3 January 1, 1860 - February 24, 1861 [Main Post]
v. 4 February 25, 1861 - October 31, 1862 [Main Post]

Day police
v. 5 June 1, 1853 - September 4, 1854

[mf roll #90-150]
v. 6 September 4, 1854 - April 24, 1856

Report books, day and night police (copied from blotters (?))
v. 7 December 8, 1854 - March 25, 1855
v. 8 December 8, 1854 - June 25, 1856 [Third District Police Office]

[mf roll #90-151]
v. 9 July 3, 1856 - January 15, 1858
v. 10 September 1, 1859 - May 22, 1861

[mf roll #90-151A]
v. 11 May 25, 1861 - April 8, 1863 [Main Post]

NOTE--NEW ADDITION: In 2000 the Police Department transferred a recently found volume for the Fourth Municipal District. It covers the period October 16, 1858-November 15, 1861.

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TB301bp
1854-1856

New Orleans, (La.) Department of Police.

Minutes of the Board of Police, 1854-1856.

2v.

Newspaper clippings of minutes pasted into bound volumes. Volume 1 (April 11, 1854 - February 28, 1856) also includes monthly statistical reports of the Chief of Police. Volume 2 (January 4, 1855 - February 28, 1856) was originally a record book for roll call votes of the First Municipality Council, ca. 1848-1849. Some pages in the middle of that book were not pasted over and, in the rear of the volume, there are pasted-in clippings of Board of Aldermen minutes, January 2, 1855 - June 3, 1856. The overlap in dates between the two volumes is unexplained; perhaps the books were being kept by two different officers or agencies. There are no manuscript minutes of the Board of Police in the collection.

Available on 35mm microfilm roll #90-152, filed under the call number noted above.

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TB650s
1852

New Orleans (La.) Dept. of Police.

Certifications of arrests of runaway slaves, 1852.

1 v.

Manuscript certifications by the Chief of Police of arrests made by police officers of runaway slaves for the period June 29 - August 5, 1852 . Each record also includes permission from the Mayor for the officer to collect the reward provided for by law. Also in the volume are manuscript copies of several ordinances relating to slaves and free persons of color. At the rear of the volume is a one-page statistical report on orphans and orphanages in the city, dated December 1, 1857.

Available as item 1 of 35mm microfilm roll #90-153; filed under the call number noted above.

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TB850
1852-1868

New Orleans (La.) Dept. of Police.

Personnel records, 1852-1868.

13 v.

Arranged into subseries as follows: Beat roll, Third District, 1852-1853 (TB850b); oaths of office, 1855-1861 (TB850o); and rosters, 1856-1870 (TB850r).

Manuscript volumes. The oath books include the signatures of policemen who took the oath of office before the Mayor. The names are arranged in order by first letter of the officers' surnames. The beat book lists, on printed pages, each regular "beat" within the Third District with the name(s) of the officer(s) assigned to that beat entered alongside. The ten volumes of rosters are arranged in a single, more or less chronological, order with some overlap in dates from one volume to the next. These books appear to have been in active use for the dates indicated for each, with references to dismissals, transfers, promotions, etc. included. In most cases the officers are listed by municipal district with "supernumerary" officers customarily being at the end of each district roster.

The overlapping dates in some of the roster volumes may be due to the fact that books were being maintained for several different purposes and/or several different offices. There is at least one manuscript note (in the 1862-1865 volume) that the information was "copied from the Chief's book as corrected" possibly for use by the Mayor. Another volume (1860-1861) is marked on its cover, "strictly private, for the Mayor and secretary." Several volumes are indexed. The 1859-1860 book also includes copies of Mayor's messages to the Common Council relative to the appointment of police and other officers in 1852-1854.

Available on two rolls of 35mm microfilm, see the following inventory for roll/call numbers.

Inventory

New Orleans (La.) Department of Police.

Personnel records, 1852-1868.

[mf roll # 90-153, items 2-7; filed under call number TB650s 1852]

TB850b
1852-1853

Beat roll of the Station House, Third District

September 1, 1852 - August 15, 1853

TB850o
1855-1861

Record of oaths of office taken before the Mayor

v. 1 April 28, 1855 - February 25, 1856
v. 2 June 18, 1855 - February 18, 1861

TB850r
1856-1870

Rosters

v. 1 1856 - 1859
v. 2 1856 - 1860
v. 3 1859

[mf roll #90-154]
v. 4 1859 - 1860
v. 5 1860 - 1861
v. 6 1862 - 1863 [NOT FILMED, POST-1861]
v. 7 1862 - 1865 [NOT FILMED, POST-1861]
v. 8 1865 - 1866 [NOT FILMED, POST-1861]
v. 9 1866 - 1867 [NOT FILMED, POST-1861]
v. 10 1868 - 1870 [NOT FILMED, POST-1861]

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PGB500
1860-1863

New Orleans (La.) Fire Alarm and Police Telegraph.

Record of messages received and sent, 1860-1863.

1 v.

By resolution approved on July 26, 1859, the Common Council contracted with the firm of John N. Gamewell & Co. to construct a fire alarm and police telegraph system for New Orleans. The system was based on the proposal made to the city by the Gamewell concern [for details, see The American Fire Alarm and Police Telegraph. To which the attention of the municipal government, insurers and property holders of the city of New Orleans is respectfully requested. John N. Gamewell & Co., of Camden, South Carolina, proprietors. New Orleans, 1859, in the City Archives Pamphlet Collection, mf LN35]. The resolution placed control of the system in the hands of the Finance Committee and the Fire Committee of the Council.

The essence of the system was, "to give an instantaneous, universal and definite alarm in cases of fire, and to afford facilities for instant police communication with the central station from every part of the city." This was accomplished through a system of call boxes and alarm bells. Each call box also was equipped with a telegraph key to allow messages to be sent back to the central station.

In March, 1860, the Council set aside space in City Hall for use of the system, presumably for the central station. In June of that year another resolution provided for a superintendent, an assistant superintendent, three operators, and a repairman to manage the day to day operation of the system. Locations of the system's alarm/call boxes are listed in most of the New Orleans city directories.

In later years, the Commissioner of Police and Public Buildings assumed control of the system. The city also contracted from time to time with other fire alarm firms to extend and/or update elements of the system. In 1893, the telephone service was initiated, but the old telegraph system remained in operation for several more years.

The record book is a manuscript log of the messages received and sent through the system. Each message is identified by the time sent, the station sending (with operator's initials), the station receiving (also with operator's initials), and, in most cases, the date. The text of each message is recorded, along with the text of the answering message. Messages deal with sightings of criminals, fire alarms, lost children, runaway slaves, etc. Several interesting messages around the time of the Federal capture of the city in May, 1862 may be of special interest.

An example, from February 21, 1862 (10:30 AM, station 7): "A stray boy about 3 1/2 years old named Joseph, dressed with a blue woolen shirt and a reddish woolen hat can be found at this station. Ans: OK."

The volume is available on one roll of 35mm microfilm, roll #85-29; filed under the call number noted above.

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