Louisiana Parish records vary vastly from parish to parish in both quality and quantity. Some have already been carefully preserved while others have been much neglected and overlooked. A certain amount of Louisiana records have purely vanished.
For genealogists undertaking research in Louisiana there’s no valuable replace for an on-site search of parish court house records. For Definitions of all court terms see the Genealogy Encyclopedia.
Louisiana Parishes – Louisiana was formed from French and Spanish colonies, which were both officially Roman Catholic. Local government was based upon parishes, as the local ecclesiastical division.
Following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the Territorial Legislative Council divided the Territory of Orleans into twelve counties. The borders of these counties were poorly defined, but they roughly coincided with the colonial parishes, and hence used the same names.
On March 31, 1807, the territorial legislature divided the state into 19 parishes without abolishing the old counties (which continued to exist until 1845). In 1811, a constitutional convention was held to prepare for Louisiana’s admission into the Union.
This organized the state into seven judicial districts, each consisting of groups of parishes. In 1816, the first official map of the state used the term, as did the 1845 constitution. Since then, the official term for Louisiana’s primary civil divisions has been parishes.
Louisiana Map of Parishes
Parishes, not counties, are the political jurisdictions for recording land (conveyances), probate (successions), marriage, and court records in Louisiana.
Parish clerks hold the majority of these records, while some cities have these functions divided among register of conveyances and district court clerks.
The Louisiana Section of the State Library of Louisiana provided some of the information on parish formation. Select a Parish from the table below to to view more information on genealogical information & records pertaining to each parish.
Court records, marriage records, and other documents are recorded according to parish, not county, in Louisiana. Probate and land records are also recorded that way. Parish clerks should be consulted for information concerning those records.
However, district court clerks and registers of conveyances also exist in some parishes. Their records should be consulted as well.
The FHL has many records on file for Louisiana. Those records were compiled by the Genealogical Society of Utah and may include the following record types: Court, Property, Notarial, Probate, Tax, Vital.
Information on the formation of parishes can be found at the State Library of Louisiana. The Parish Clerks of Court and State Office of Vital Records can provide copies of birth certificates. However, access may be restricted unless relationship to the person of interest can be proven. See also a list of links to parish and county seat government run websites.