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Louisiana Families Project Reliable Sources

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Location: Louisianamap
Surnames/tags: Louisiana Sources Louisiana Families Project
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This page is a work in progress!

The Louisiana Families Project covers a period from the time of the first European exploration in the 1600s, through statehood in 1812, through to today. The purpose of this document is to provide guidance for source information, especially during the earlier periods of the state's history.

There are very few resources that cover the pre-1700 period, but they will be added to this list as this list is developed.


Reliable Sources

In general, the most reliable sources include original civil or church registers and documents created at or very near to the time of the events being documented.

  • Catholic Church records: baptisms, marriages, burials, and other acts such as confirmations, etc. These are available through the various Diocesan Archives departments. Examples are:
    • Diocese of Baton Rouge Archives. Record extracts have been published in a series of 22 volumes covering the period of 1722-1900. Another volume of Baptisms, 1901-1905, was published in paperback format. Additional future volumes are planned for the other sacramental records after 1900. Parishes covered are Pointe Coupee, Iberville, St. James, Ascension, Assumption, East and West Baton Rouge, and East and West Feliciana.
    • Sacramental Records of New Orleans Archdiocese. Record extracts have been published in a series of 19 volumes covering the period 1718-1831. Parishes covered are Orleans, St. Bernard, St. Charles, and St. John the Baptist. Several volumes are now out of print, and have been published online by the archdiocese. In addition, many of the early original parish records have been published online in PDF format.
  • Rev. Donald J. Hebert publications of extracts from the original church and courthouse records in predominantly Acadian parishes. These volumes are widely available in libraries throughout Louisiana, and in many other major genealogical collections in the U.S. These extracts do occasionally contain errors, and may not contain every bit of genealogical information available in the original registers, but in general are considered to be reliable. The major works include:
    • Southwest Louisiana Records, covering 1750-1915 in 47 volumes, and 1750-1900 on CD. Parishes covered are St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, Lafayette, Acadia, Calcasieu, Jefferson Davis, Cameron, Iberia, Evangeline, and Vermilion.
    • South Louisiana Records, covering 1794-1920 in 12 volumes. (Note that records from the period 1903-1920 are incomplete.) Parishes covered are Lafourche and Terrebonne.

Unreliable Sources, with Exceptions

Some sources are a mixed bag, containing a mix of valid and questionable (unsourced) data. Determining what is reliable and what is not is key to using and documenting these sources.

  • Find A Grave memorials: Find A Grave was originally conceived as a site containing information obtained from an actual gravestone or cemetery record. Unfortunately, for many of the profiles, this is no longer the case. Most pre-1700 memorials as well as many others are without an actual burial place and burial details, and are in fact reconstructed from trees. These cannot be used as sources for pre-1700 profiles. Some memorials are more reliable, especially those displaying photos of the actual headstones and those that cite their sources. But note that at best, a Find A Grave record can be used as a primary source for the burial location, and secondarily for dates of birth and death, only if its information is from the actual headstone or cemetery record. Anything else -- including places of birth or death, links to family members, biographical data -- fall into the same category as user-contributed trees. If the Find A Grave profile cites another source for its data (such as an obituary or census record for example), that source should be sought out, evaluated for relevancy, and cited on its own merits. If that isn't possible, it should be mentioned as part of the Findagrave memorial's citation.

Unreliable Sources

Unreliable sources include those sources which state "facts" without sufficient data to back them up. In general, if one of the following sources are used to document a piece of data in a profile, that data will be considered as "Unsourced" and is subject to verification.

  • User-contributed trees: Ancestry, FamilySearch, Geni, MyHeritage, Rootsweb, WikiTree, Geneanet, The Peerage, family association websites, personal websites, etc. Many user-contributed trees are unsourced. A tree with no sources cannot be relied upon for accuracy, as there is no way to validate the data. Some trees do have sources. When you find these, always try to look up the source and check it for yourself. Sometimes trees with precise dates and places can be a good guide of where to look for primary records, but always try to find the original record and cite that. Do not use a user-contributed tree as the source for pre-1700 profiles.
  • Published databases containing information of uncertain origin: There are a number of "records" collections available on websites such as Ancestry and MyHeritage (and in some instances formerly distributed on CD-ROM) that do not identify their information sources and in fact are built in whole or in part from doubtful publications and user-contributed content. These include:
    • "Family Data Collection" and similar sources associated with Edmund West
    • FamilySearch's "Ancestral File," "Millennium File," and "Pedigree Resource File"
    • Ancestry's "U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900"

How to Cite These Sources and More

A work in progress!!

Frequently Used Citations - Includes sample citations for a large variety of sources covering all timeframes.

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