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OLG & DCRT Strategic Plan
2020-21 through 2024-25


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The Louisiana Historical Center houses the Louisiana Colonial Judicial Records of both the French Superior Council (1714-1769) and the Spanish Judiciary (1769-1803). These criminal and civil records, which comprise the heart of the museum's manuscript collection, are an invaluable source for researching Louisiana's colonial history. They record the social, political, and economic lives of rich and poor, female and male, slave and free, African, Native, European, and American colonials. Although the majority of the cases deal with attempts by creditors to recover unpaid debts, the colonial collection includes many successions. These documents often contain a wealth of biographical information concerning Louisiana's colonial inhabitants ranging from estate inventories, records of commercial transactions, correspondences and copies of wills, marriage contracts to baptismal, marriage, and burial records. The colonial document collection also includes petitions by slaves requesting manumission, applications by merchants for licenses to conduct business, requests by ship captains for absolution from responsibility for cargo lost at sea, and requests by traders for permission to conduct business in Europe, the West Indies, and British colonies in North America. During the Spanish period many slaves of Indian ancestry petitioned government authorities for their freedom. These requests, usually granted upon proof of native ancestry, are also a part of the collection.

This collection of French Superior Council and Spanish Judicial records has long been essential to the study of American colonial history for the quantity, quality, depth, and diversity of the documentation they contain. However due to the documents' age and condition, the only safe way for researchers to access them is through microfilm, much of which is difficult to read or illegible. In addition, the extant microfilm disregards the original order and provenance of the records. Digital imaging of the documents will enable virtual restoration of the original structure of the archive. To preserve the contents of this one-of-a-kind archive, and to provide free and universal access to the region's most significant foundational documents, the Louisiana State Museum is committed to a three year, $800,000 effort to digitize and publish the archive online in a searchable database.

The Louisiana state museum historical center is collaborating with others to promote the use of the colonial documents Digital Archive. It has already published 18,594 of the digitized colonial documents.  They are accessible from a comprehensive, advanced search feature that has 18 dropdown search criteria to filter results on http://lacolonialdocs.org/search.

Colonial Documents Supplementary Materials
The "Colonial Documents Supplementary Materials" is a listing of additional resources that researchers may find valuable when using the Colonial Document Collection.  The types of materials listed include translations of the documents themselves as well as other books and journals that can provide valuable background information on the French and Spanish Colonial era in New Orleans. Almost all of the items mentioned in this listing are available to the public and can be accessed by contacting the Louisiana Historical Center's Reading Room at the Old U.S. Mint.

Colonial Documents Supplementary Materials
Colonial Document Support References
Colonial Documents Black Books Reference Pageclick here
Spanish Colonial Document Index Binders: 1769-1804click here