The Lafayette Public Library offers excellent resources for anyone interested in genealogy and local history. You’ll find books on basic research techniques for the novice, as well as advanced methods for the more experienced researcher. Although the Main Library houses most of the print genealogy materials (books, periodicals and microfilm), you can access family history databases from any Lafayette Public Library location.
We offer two online resources for genealogy research: Ancestry Library Edition and HeritageQuest. Ancestry Library Edition must be accessed inside one of our libraries, but HeritageQuest may be accessed remotely. Visit our databases page to use these products.
In addition to computers with Internet access, the library system offers free wireless Internet access for your mobile Internet-enabled devices. At the Main Library, several computers have been set aside for genealogical research, as well as two dedicated computers in the genealogy collections room (one hosts the Southwest Louisiana Records [1750-1900] compiled by Rev. Donald J. Hebert, while the other powers the microform reader/scanner). As an added service, the library also provides printers and copy machines, which can be used for a small charge.
You can reserve a computer on our website prior to arriving at the library. Computers can be reserved up to a week in advance. Genealogists visiting the Main Library should select the “3rd Floor” zone when making a reservation. The genealogy computers are labeled GEN01 through GEN04.
Meetings and Assistance
Members of the Lafayette Genealogical Society host presentations meant to help you in your ancestral research efforts. These programs are free. Check our Calendar of Events for the next meeting date and time.
Books & Periodicals
The collection is focused on Louisiana, the American South, Francophone genealogy and individual family histories of local interest. Numerous books pertain to church and cemetery records, heraldry, ethnicity and surnames. There is also information on military records, the Mayflower descendants, immigration and censuses. The library subscribes to several genealogical periodicals and city directories for Lafayette are available for most years from 1946 to the present.
The Main Library has a microform reader/scanner. Rather than having to toggle between document and software views, separate monitors conveniently let you work with the software while viewing the files. Additionally, the imaging equipment has zoom-in and focus features to aid in reading microfilm or microfiche documents. You may save images to a flash drive, send documents by email or print copies of the images.
- United States Census—Louisiana, 1810-1920
- Lafayette Daily Advertiser, 1974-present
- Lafayette Gazette, 1893-1908
- Orleans Births Indices, 1790-1897
- Louisiana State Deaths Indices, 1900-1949
- Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps—City of Lafayette and other Louisiana cities
If you wish to borrow materials that LPL does not own, you may be interested in using our Interlibrary Loan (ILL) services. ILL involves borrowing materials from in-state and out-of-state libraries. Therefore, requests for materials through ILL can take as little as one week, or up to one month, depending on availability. You may submit up to five requests per day. Requests can be placed online using the Request Title Not Currently at LPL link.
Reference service is provided to help you become self-sufficient in your research endeavors. Library staff will provide advice on how to begin research with suggestions of possible print or electronic resources and search strategies. Reference service personnel will not provide information searches, create or check lists, or interpret information. Library staff will help you locate books on specific topics and will explain how to use the library’s resources. You are responsible for using these materials yourself.
How to Do Genealogy Research
GENEALOGY SPOT FOR BEGINNERS
Provides a nice list of sites with lessons and advice for getting started in genealogical research.
HISTORY AT HOME: A GUIDE TO GENEALOGY
This article provides pointers on learning more about your family history and includes links to a number of online resources.
HOW TO START YOUR FAMILY HISTORY
From The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, this site offers great guides for researching your roots.
This is a companion website to the popular public television series. It presents excellent material in an attractive format for beginners and seasoned enthusiasts including charts and tutorials.
Comprehensive directory of genealogical resources of all sorts with more than 300,000 links; many organized by category.
FAMILY HISTORY BOOKS
Collection of more than 200,000 digitized genealogy and family history publications from the archives of some of the most important family history libraries in the world.
Site from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints includes a search engine, articles, and numerous other materials.
FAMILY TREE MAKER
This commercial site also offers excellent articles on how to do genealogical research that may be used free of charge.
Quickly and easily find resources to perform ancestor searches by state, country, ethnicity and religion, browse historical records, access reference tools, and join genealogy communities.
Check multiple queries by surname to locate ancestral information and living relatives.
NATIONAL GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY
Contains information about all sorts of genealogical matters, including standards, events and instruction.
The oldest and largest free genealogy site, Rootsweb provides tools and resources for genealogy research with financial support from Ancestry.com.
SURNAME DISTRIBUTION MAPS
Surname distribution maps graphically display locations where surnames occurred at different periods in time. This strategy provides genealogists with a starting point for researching birth countries. The site provides a list of links to online maps.
US GENWEB PROJECT
Nationwide volunteer project, with a website for every county in the U.S. (There is also a worldwide site.)
The WorldConnect Project is a set of tools that allow users to upload, modify, link and display their family trees as a means to share their genealogy with other researchers.
African American Genealogy
This site focuses on African American genealogy, from researching African ancestry in the Americas in particular, to genealogical research and resources in general.
AFRO-LOUISIANA HISTORICAL & GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY
The society is dedicated to expanding knowledge of the historical, cultural and genealogical heritage of African-Americans in general and Louisianans in particular. The site provides information on tours, publications, and services.
AFRO-LOUISIANA HISTORY AND GENEALOGY, 1719-1820
Includes information about African slave names, genders, ages, occupations, illnesses, family relationships, ethnicity, places of origin, prices paid by slave owners, and slaves’ testimony and emancipations.
CIVIL WAR SAILORS
The sailors database contains the records of approximately 18,000 African American sailors derived from enlistment records and the quarterly muster rolls of Navy vessels.
DICTIONARY OF CANADIAN BIOGRAPHY
Includes almost 8,500 biographies of people who have contributed to Canadian history. Online profiles describe the lives of those whose deaths or whose last-known activities occurred in the years 1000 to 1930, comprising the complete contents of print volumes I to XV.
ACADIAN-CAJUN GENEALOGY & HISTORY
Most of the material is on the Acadians (pre-deportation, mid-18th century) and those Acadians who settled in Louisiana (Cajuns) prior to 1900. The site covers many aspects of Acadian genealogy and provides a great selection of links.
ACADIANS IN GRAY
The site consists of three basic parts: military history (unit lists, unit capsule histories, individual service records, lists of Cajuns who were killed, missing, captured, or who deserted during the US Civil War of 1861), genealogy (lists of Cajun families based on immigrant status and marriage patterns in Louisiana from 1764 until the mid-1800s) and a history of the Acadians of Louisiana.
CENTER FOR RECORDS AND STATISTICS (VITAL RECORDS REGISTRY)
Vital Records collects, maintains, issues and preserves official records of birth, death, fetal death, marriage and other vital events. The site provides information on requesting Louisiana birth and death certificates.
CLERKS OF COURT
Directory of Louisiana’s Clerks of Court. Clerks are responsible for keeping records of all legal proceedings, administering notarizations, mortgages and other legal processes not requiring trial before a court, and processing legal documentation preceding and following trial.
CONFEDERATE PENSION APPLICATIONS INDEX—LOUISIANA
This collection consists of applications for pensions that were granted to veterans and widows beginning in 1898. This index contains more than 49,000 names from more than 18,000 applications submitted to the Board of Pension Commissioners. Applications may include service information, occupation, place of residence and number of children.
DIRECTORY TO ARCHIVAL REPOSITORIES IN LOUISIANA
Hosted by the Louisiana Archives and Manuscripts Association, this guide is designed to assist researchers with locating Louisiana repositories. It also includes addresses of the Clerk of Court for each parish, as well as smaller associations that can be used as a contact point for those interested in the history or families of a particular locality.
FAMILY HISTORY CENTERS
This site, operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, provides resources to assist in the research and study of genealogy and family history. Find a research center in Louisiana.
LAFAYETTE GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY
The Lafayette Genealogical Society is a not-for-profit society with a mission to encourage an interest in all family history. The society collects, preserves and makes available the history of the Attakapas area, which includes the parishes of Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Mary, Acadia, Vermilion, Evangeline and Iberia. LGS meets at the Lafayette Public Library monthly. The site is home to their schedule, announcements and newsletter.
LAFAYETTE GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY FACEBOOK GROUP
The Lafayette Genealogical Society group is an online place to share your work on your family history, learn from one another and socialize with other genealogists.
Part of the USGenWeb Project, a free genealogy resource, this site provides links to state genealogy websites (which, in turn, provide gateways to the parishes) and bulletin boards for parish information and other Louisiana materials.
LOUISIANA ADOPTION VOLUNTARY REGISTRY
The registry was established by the Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services to facilitate voluntary contact between adult adoptees, their birth parents and/or siblings.
LOUISIANA BIRTH RECORDS INDEX
The database includes information on births that occurred in Louisiana more than 100 years from the end of the current calendar year. Birth records were not required statewide by law until 1918.
LOUISIANA DEATH RECORDS INDEX
Index of records for deaths that occurred in Louisiana between 1911 and more than 50 years from the end of the current calendar year.
LOUISIANA IN THE CIVIL WAR
Information and links related to Louisiana’s involvement in the US Civil War of 1861. Includes unit histories, rosters, uniforms and equipment of Louisiana soldiers.
LOUISIANA STATE ARCHIVES
The Archives is the official repository for the state’s historical records. Records range from recently enacted legislative bills to documents dating back to Louisiana’s colonial period.
NEW ORLEANS SHIP PASSENGER LIST—JANUARY TO JULY 1851
This online index includes passenger name, date of arrival, name of ship and port of departure. With the date of arrival and name of ship, researchers can locate on microfilm the ship manifest listing all passengers on that particular ship. Information on those lists includes age, sex, occupation, country to which the passengers belong, country to which they intend to become inhabitants and the number that died on the passage.
ORLEANS PARISH MARRIAGE RECORDS INDEX
Index of records for marriages that took place in Orleans Parish from 1870-1964. Searching for marriages that took place from 1831-1869 may produce results with dates and names of spouses taken from the official marriage index.
Census information and records can be invaluable tools in genealogical research. In addition to basic personal facts for each respondent, census records include detailed information that can help make connections across generations. Decennial census records are confidential for 72 years to protect respondents’ privacy.
The site links to nearly 40,000 online census transcriptions primarily from the United States and Canada.
This website allows full access to images of the 1940 census in addition to 1940 census maps and descriptions.
CIVIL WAR SOLDIERS AND SAILORS SYSTEM (CWSS)
This database contains information about the men who served in the Union and Confederate armies during the US Civil War of 1861. Database includes histories of Union and Confederate regiments, links to descriptions of significant battles and selected lists of prisoner-of-war and cemetery records.
CONFEDERATE PENSION RECORDS
This is a list of repositories for Confederate pension records. Veterans were eligible to apply for a pension to the state in which they lived, even if they served in a unit from a different state.
The decennial census has been conducted in years ending in “0″ since 1790, as required by the US Constitution. For historical information about the decennial censuses, see Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses From 1790 to 2000 [pdf] and the procedural histories of each census.
GENERAL LAND OFFICE RECORDS
The Bureau of Land Management Records Automation website provides access to Federal land conveyance records for the Public Land States, including image access to land title records issued between 1820 and the present. Public Land States are those states created out of the public domain (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming).
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
The Civil War Maps collection brings together materials from three premier collections: the Library of Congress Geography and Map Division, the Virginia Historical Society, and the Library of Virginia. Among the reconnaissance, sketch, and theater-of-war maps are detailed battle maps made by Major Jedediah Hotchkiss for Generals Lee and Jackson, General Sherman’s Southern military campaigns, and maps taken from diaries, scrapbooks, and manuscripts.
Civil War Maps
MAKING OF AMERICA
Making of America (MOA) represents a significant body of primary sources related to development of the U.S. infrastructure. The initial phase focused on developing a collaborative effort between Cornell University and the University of Michigan. The two institutions developed a thematically-related digital library documenting American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction (1840 – 1900).
Cornell University’s Making of America pages
The University of Michigan’s Making of America pages
Civil War Documents
Guides to searching the National Archives catalog online and in person.
NATIONAL ARCHIVES RESOURCES FOR GENEALOGISTS
Learn how to use the resources at the National Archives to explore your family’s ancestry.
ROOTSWEB’S SOUNDEX CONVERTER
The Soundex system is a method of indexing names in the 1880, 1900, 1910 and 1920 US Census. Soundex can also aid genealogists by identifying spelling variations for a given surname.
SOCIAL SECURITY DEATH INDEX
The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is a database of people whose deaths were reported to the Social Security Administration beginning about 1962 and was created from the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File. Due to restrictions enacted in March 2014, new entries to publicly available versions of the SSDI will not be available for three years beginning on the date of an individual’s death.
STATUE OF LIBERTY—ELLIS ISLAND
This site includes a history and timeline of Ellis Island, links to the peopling center and the family history center, oral histories, a photo gallery, genealogy tips and information on the immigration museum and timeline. Creating a free account provides online access to the passenger database, the ship database, the wall of honor and the flag of faces.
Although censuses are a source of genealogical information, the Census Bureau does not provide these data. By law, personally identifiable information collected for a decennial census is released to the public after 72 years. The site does provide links to other data and resources to help genealogists fill out their family tree.
Vital records usually contain the full name of the individual involved in the event, the date of the event and the county, state or town where the event took place. Many vital records contain much more information. This site provides information on where to locate vital records by state and parish/county.