Louisiana ( or ; , ; Louisiana Creole: Léta de la Lwizyàn) is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Louisiana is the 31st most extensive and the 25th most populous of the 50 United States. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties. The largest parish by population is East Baton Rouge Parish, and the largest by land area is Cameron Parish. Louisiana is home to the strawberry capital of the world, Ponchatoula, where an annual strawberry festival is held in April. The two "Deltas" are located in Monroe, the parish seat of Ouachita Parish, Shreveport, the parish seat of Caddo Parish, and Alexandria, the parish seat of Rapides Parish, for the small Delta, and Monroe, Lake Charles, and New Orleans for the large Delta. They are referred to as Deltas because they form a perfect triangle shape when the points are lined up.
Much of the state's lands were formed from sediment washed down the Mississippi River, leaving enormous deltas and vast areas of coastal marsh and swamp. These contain a rich southern biota; typical examples include birds such as ibis and egrets. There are also many species of tree frogs, and fish such as sturgeon and paddlefish. In more elevated areas, fire is a natural process in the landscape, and has produced extensive areas of longleaf pine forest and wet savannas. These support an exceptionally large number of plant species, including many species of orchids and carnivorous plants.
Some Louisiana urban environments have a multicultural, multilingual heritage, being so strongly influenced by a mixture of 18th-century French, Spanish, Native American, and African cultures that they are considered to be somewhat exceptional in the US. Before the American purchase of the territory, the current Louisiana State had been both a Spanish and French colony. In addition, the pattern of development included importing numerous African slaves in the 18th century with many from the same region of West Africa, thus concentrating their culture. In the post-Civil War environment, Anglo-Americans increased the pressure for Anglicization, and in 1915, English was made the only official language of the state. It has more Native American tribes than any other southern state, including four that are federally recognized, ten that are state recognized, and four that have not yet received recognition.
Louisiana was inhabited by Native Americans for many millennia before the arrival of Europeans in the 16th century. During the Middle Archaic period, Louisiana was the site of the earliest mound complex in North America and one of the earliest dated, complex constructions in the Americas, the Watson Brake site near present-day Monroe. An 11-mound complex, it was built about 5400 BP (3500 BCE). The Middle Archaic sites of Caney and Frenchman's Bend have also been securely dated to 5600–5000 BP, demonstrating that seasonal hunter-gatherers organized to build complex constructions in present-day northern Louisiana. The Hedgepeth Site in Lincoln Parish is more recent, dated to 5200–4500 BP.
Nearly 2,000 years later, Poverty Point, the largest and best-known Late Archaic site in the state, was built. Modern-day Epps developed near it. The Poverty Point culture may have reached its peak around 1500 BCE, making it the first complex culture, and possibly the first tribal culture in North America. It lasted until approximately 700 BCE.
The Poverty Point culture was followed by the Tchefuncte and Lake Cormorant cultures of the Tchula period, local manifestations of Early Woodland period. The Tchefuncte culture were the first people in Louisiana to make large amounts of pottery. These cultures lasted until 200 CE. The Middle Woodland period starts in Louisiana with the Marksville culture in the southern and eastern part of the state and the Fourche Maline culture in the northwestern part of the state. The Marksville culture takes its name from the Marksville Prehistoric Indian Site in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana.
These cultures were contemporaneous with the Hopewell cultures of Ohio and Illinois, and participated in the Hopewell Exchange Network. Trade with peoples to the southwest brought the bow and arrow. The first burial mounds were built at this time. Political power begins to be consolidated as the first platform mounds at ritual centers are constructed for the developing hereditary political and religious leadership.
By 400 CE in the southern part of the state the Late Woodland period had begun with the Baytown culture. Population increased dramatically and there is strong evidence of a growing cultural and political complexity. Many Coles Creek sites were erected over earlier Woodland period mortuary mounds. Scholars have speculated that emerging elites were symbolically and physically appropriating dead ancestors to emphasize and project their own authority.
The Mississippian period in Louisiana was when Plaquemine and the Caddoan Mississippian cultures developed and extensive maize agriculture was adopted. The Plaquemine culture in the lower Mississippi River Valley in western Mississippi and eastern Louisiana began in 1200 CE and continued to about 1400 CE. Good examples of this culture are the Medora Site in West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, and the Emerald Mound, Winterville and Holly Bluff sites in Mississippi.
Plaquemine culture was contemporaneous with the Middle Mississippian culture represented by the primary settlement, the Cahokia site near St. Louis, Missouri. This group is considered ancestral to the Natchez and Taensa Peoples.
By 1000 CE in the northwestern part of the state, the Fourche Maline culture had evolved into the Caddoan Mississippian culture. The Caddoan Mississippians covered a large territory, including what is now eastern Oklahoma, western Arkansas, northeast Texas, and northwest Louisiana. Archeological evidence has demonstrated that the cultural continuity is unbroken from prehistory to the present. The Caddo and related Caddo language speakers in prehistoric times and at first European contact were the direct ancestors of the modern Caddo Nation of Oklahoma of today.
Many current place names in the state, including Atchafalaya, Natchitouches (now spelled Natchitoches), Caddo, Houma, Tangipahoa, and Avoyel (as Avoyelles), are transliterations of those used in various Native American languages.
Exploration and colonization by Europeans
The first European explorers to visit Louisiana came in 1528 when a Spanish expedition led by Panfilo de Narváez located the mouth of the Mississippi River. In 1542, Hernando de Soto's expedition skirted to the north and west of the state (encountering Caddo and Tunica groups) and then followed the Mississippi River down to the Gulf of Mexico in 1543. Spanish interest in Louisiana then lay dormant.
In the late 17th century, French and French Canadian expeditions, which included sovereign, religious and commercial aims, established a foothold on the Mississippi River and Gulf Coast. With its first settlements, France lay claim to a vast region of North America and set out to establish a commercial empire and French nation stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada.
In 1682, the French explorer Robert Cavelier de La Salle named the region Louisiana to honor France's King Louis XIV. The first permanent settlement, Fort Maurepas (at what is now Ocean Springs, Mississippi, near Biloxi), was founded by Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville, a French military officer from Canada, in 1699. By then the French had also built a small fort at the mouth of the Mississippi at a settlement they named La Balise (or La Balize), "seamark" in French. By 1721 they built a wooden lighthouse-type structure to guide ships on the river.
The French colony of Louisiana originally claimed all the land on both sides of the Mississippi River and north to French territory in Canada. The following States were part of Louisiana: Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota.
The settlement of Natchitoches (along the Red River in present-day northwest Louisiana) was established in 1714 by Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, making it the oldest permanent European settlement in the Louisiana Purchase territory. The French settlement had two purposes: to establish trade with the Spanish in Texas, and to deter Spanish advances into Louisiana. Also, the northern terminus of the Old San Antonio Road was at Natchitoches. The settlement soon became a flourishing river port and crossroads, giving rise to vast cotton kingdoms along the river. Over time, planters developed large plantations and built fine homes in a growing town. This became a pattern repeated in New Orleans and other places.
Louisiana's French settlements contributed to further exploration and outposts, concentrated along the banks of the Mississippi and its major tributaries, from Louisiana to as far north as the region called the Illinois Country, around present-day St. Louis, Missouri. See also: French colonization of the Americas
Initially Mobile, Alabama, and Biloxi, Mississippi, functioned as the capital of the colony. Recognizing the importance of the Mississippi River to trade and military interests, France made New Orleans the seat of civilian and military authority in 1722. From then until the United States acquired the territory in the Louisiana Purchase on December 20, 1803, France and Spain traded control of the region's colonial empire.
In the 1720s, German immigrants settled along the Mississippi River in a region referred to as the German Coast.
France ceded most of its territory to the east of the Mississippi to Great Britain in the aftermath of Britain's victory in the Seven Years' War or French and Indian War, as it is known in North America. It retained the area around New Orleans and the parishes around Lake Pontchartrain. The rest of Louisiana became a colony of Spain after the Seven Years' War by the Treaty of Fontainebleau of 1763.
In 1765, during the period of Spanish rule, several thousand French-speaking refugees from the region of Acadia (now Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, Canada) made their way to Louisiana after having been expelled from their homelands by the British during the French and Indian War. They settled chiefly in the southwestern Louisiana region now called Acadiana. The Spanish, eager to gain more Catholic settlers, welcomed the Acadian refugees. Cajuns descend from these Acadian refugees.
Spanish Canary Islanders, called Isleños, emigrated from the Canary Islands of Spain to Louisiana under the Spanish crown between 1778 and 1783.
Expansion of slavery
Bienville brought the first two African slaves to Louisiana in 1708, transporting them from a French colony in the West Indies. In 1709, French financier Antoine Crozat obtained a monopoly of commerce in La Louisiane, which extended from the Gulf of Mexico to what is now Illinois. "That concession allowed him to bring in a cargo of blacks from Africa every year," the British historian Hugh Thomas wrote. Physical conditions, including disease, were so harsh there was high mortality among both the colonists and the slaves, resulting in continuing demand and importation of slaves.
Starting in 1719, traders began to import slaves in higher numbers; two French ships, the Du Maine and the Aurore, arrived in New Orleans carrying more than 500 black slaves coming from Africa. Previous slaves in Louisiana had been transported from French colonies in the West Indies. By the end of 1721, New Orleans counted 1256 inhabitants, of which about half were slaves.
With the growth in slavery, in 1724, the colony adopted Louis XV’s “Code Noir” (Black Code) in Louisiana. Louis XIV’s “Code Noir” dates to the late seventeenth century. It was nominally to protect the living and working conditions for African slaves. Historians have assessed it also as a way to keep slaves more content by granting some freedoms and protecting their families. Officials were aware of the risk of the small number of colonists in hostile territory. In keeping with Catholic principles, the Code’s forbade the separation of family members, especially any selling of young children away from their parents. In those years, a young person was considered an adult by the age of thirteen, and subject to sale away from the family from that age. Masters relied on slave labor for cultivation of their land and could not afford to spark off rebellions that may have turned into violence, or to lose many slaves from their running away. The fugitive slaves, called maroons, could easily hide in the backcountry of the bayous and survive in small settlements. The word “maroon” comes from the French “marron,” derived from the Spanish “cimarrón”; it means feral or fugitive.
Article II of the Code Noir of 1724, required masters to provide their slaves with religious education, meaning Roman Catholicism. Sunday was to be a day of rest for slaves. On days off, slaves were expected to feed and take care of themselves. During the 1740s economic crisis in the colony, masters had trouble feeding their slaves and themselves. Giving them time off also effectively gave more power to slaves, who started cultivating their own gardens and crafting items for sale as their own property. They began to participate in the economic development of the colony while at the same time increasing independence and self-subsistence.
The Code forbade mixed marriages (article VI) but did little to protect slave women from sexual advances by masters, overseers or other slaves. On balance, the Code benefitted the masters but had more protections and flexibility than did the institution of slavery in the southern Thirteen Colonies.
In the late 18th century, the last Spanish governor of the Louisiana territory wrote:
"Truly, it is impossible for lower Louisiana to get along without slaves" and with the use of slaves, the colony had been "making great strides toward prosperity and wealth."
When the United States made the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, it was soon accepted that enslaved Africans could be brought to Louisiana as easily as they were brought to neighboring Mississippi, though it violated U.S. law to do so. Despite demands by United States Rep. James Hillhouse and by the pamphleteer Thomas Paine to enforce existing federal law against slavery in the newly acquired territory, slavery prevailed because it was the source of great profits and the lowest-cost labor.
At the start of the 19th century, Louisiana was a small producer of sugar with a relatively small number of slaves, compared to Saint-Domingue and the West Indies. It soon became a major sugar producer as new settlers arrived to develop plantations. William C. C. Claiborne, Louisiana's first United States governor, said that African slave labor was needed because white laborers "cannot be had in this unhealthy climate." Hugh Thomas wrote that Claiborne was unable to enforce the abolition of the African slave trade, which the US and Great Britain adopted in 1808. The United States continued to protect the domestic slave trade, including the coastwise trade, the transport of slaves by ship along the Atlantic Coast and to New Orleans and other Gulf ports.
As the Deep South was developed for both cotton and sugar in the nineteenth century, demand increased for slaves. This resulted in the first half of the 19th century in a massive forced migration through the slave trade of more than one million African Americans from the Upper South, where surplus labor was sold, to the Deep South. Many traders brought slaves to New Orleans for domestic sale; by 1840 New Orleans had the largest slave market in the country, and was the third-largest city, and one of the wealthiest.
Haitian migration and influence
Spanish control of Louisiana lasted from 1763 to 1800. Beginning in the 1790s, waves of immigration took place from Saint-Domingue, following a slave rebellion that started in 1791. Over the next decade, thousands of migrants landed in Louisiana from the island, including ethnic Europeans, free people of color, and African slaves, some brought in by each group. They greatly increased the French-speaking population in New Orleans and Louisiana, as well as the number of Africans, and the slaves reinforced African culture in the city. The process was complex, but uprisings continued, and in 1803, France pulled out its surviving troops from the island, having suffered the loss of two-thirds, mostly to yellow fever. In 1804, Haiti, the second republic in the western hemisphere, proclaimed its independence, achieved by slave leaders.
Purchase by the United States (1803)
When the United States won its independence from Great Britain in 1783, one of its major concerns was having a European power on its western boundary, and the need for unrestricted access to the Mississippi River. As American settlers pushed west, they found that the Appalachian Mountains provided a barrier to shipping goods eastward. The easiest way to ship produce was to use a flatboat to float it down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to the port of New Orleans, from whence goods could be put on ocean-going vessels. The problem with this route was that the Spanish owned both sides of the Mississippi below Natchez.
Napoleon's ambitions in Louisiana involved the creation of a new empire centered on the Caribbean sugar trade. By the terms of the Treaty of Amiens of 1800, Great Britain returned ownership of the islands of Martinique and Guadaloupe to the French. Napoleon looked upon Louisiana as a depot for these sugar islands, and as a buffer to U.S. settlement. In October 1801 he sent a large military force to conquer the important island of Santo Domingo and re-introduced slavery, which had been abolished in Saint Domingue (Haiti) following a slave revolt there in 1792-3, and the legal and constitutional abolition of slavery in French colonies in 1794.
When the army led by Napoleon's brother-in-law Leclerc was defeated by the forces opposed to the re-enslavement of most of the population of St. Domingue, Napoleon decided to sell Louisiana.
Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States, was disturbed by Napoleon's plans to re-establish French colonies in America. With the possession of New Orleans, Napoleon could close the Mississippi to U.S. commerce at any time. Jefferson authorized Robert R. Livingston, U.S. Minister to France, to negotiate for the purchase of the City of New Orleans, portions of the east bank of the Mississippi, and free navigation of the river for U.S. commerce. Livingston was authorized to pay up to $2 million.
An official transfer of Louisiana to French ownership had not yet taken place, and Napoleon's deal with the Spanish was a poorly kept secret on the frontier. On October 18, 1802, however, Juan Ventura Morales, Acting Intendant of Louisiana, made public the intention of Spain to revoke the right of deposit at New Orleans for all cargo from the United States. The closure of this vital port to the United States caused anger and consternation. Commerce in the west was virtually blockaded. Historians believe that the revocation of the right of deposit was prompted by abuses by the Americans, particularly smuggling, and not by French intrigues as was believed at the time. President Jefferson ignored public pressure for war with France, and appointed James Monroe a special envoy to Napoleon, to assist in obtaining New Orleans for the United States. Jefferson also raised the authorized expenditure to $10 million.
However, on April 11, 1803, French Foreign Minister Talleyrand surprised Livingston by asking how much the United States was prepared to pay for the entirety of Louisiana, not just New Orleans and the surrounding area (as Livingston's instructions covered). Monroe agreed with Livingston that Napoleon might withdraw this offer at any time (leaving them with no ability to obtain the desired New Orleans area), and that approval from President Jefferson might take months, so Livingston and Monroe decided to open negotiations immediately. By April 30, they closed a deal for the purchase of the entire Louisiana territory of for 60 million Francs (approximately $15 million).
Part of this sum was used to forgive debts owed by France to the United States. The payment was made in United States bonds, which Napoleon sold at face value to the Dutch firm of Hope and Company, and the British banking house of Baring, at a discount of 87½ per each $100 unit. As a result, France received only $8,831,250 in cash for Louisiana. Dutiful English banker Alexander Baring conferred with Marbois in Paris, shuttled to the United States to pick up the bonds, took them to Britain, and returned to France with the money – which Napoleon used to wage war against Baring's own country.
A transfer ceremony was held in New Orleans on November 29, 1803. Since the Louisiana territory had never officially been turned over to the French, the Spanish took down their flag, and the French raised theirs. The following day, General James Wilkinson accepted possession of New Orleans for the United States. A similar ceremony was held in St. Louis on March 9, 1804, when a French tricolor was raised near the river, replacing the Spanish national flag. The following day, Captain Amos Stoddard of the First U.S. Artillery marched his troops into town and had the American flag run up the fort's flagpole. The Louisiana territory was officially transferred to the United States government, represented by Meriwether Lewis.
The Louisiana Territory, purchased for less than 3 cents an acre, doubled the size of the United States overnight, without a war or the loss of a single American life, and set a precedent for the purchase of territory. It opened the way for the eventual expansion of the United States across the continent to the Pacific.
Louisiana became a U.S. State on April 30, 1812.
By 1840 New Orleans had the biggest slave market in the United States, which contributed greatly to the economy. It had become one of the wealthiest cities and the third largest city in the nation. The ban on the African slave trade and importation of slaves had increased demand in the domestic market. During these decades after the American Revolutionary War, more than one million enslaved African Americans underwent forced migration from the Upper South to the Deep South, two thirds of them in the slave trade. Others were transported by their masters as slaveholders moved west for new lands.
With changing agriculture in the Upper South as planters shifted from tobacco to less labor-intensive mixed agriculture, planters had excess laborers. Many sold slaves to traders to take to the Deep South. Slaves were driven by traders overland from the Upper South or transported to New Orleans and other coastal markets by ship in the coastwise slave trade. After sales in New Orleans, steamboats operating on the Mississippi transported slaves upstream to markets or plantation destinations at Natchez and Memphis.
Secession and the Civil War (1860–1865)
According to the 1860 census, 331,726 people were enslaved, nearly 47% of the state's total population of 708,002. Enfranchised elite whites' strong economic interest in maintaining the slave system contributed to Louisiana's decision to secede from the Union in 1861. It followed other Southern states in seceding after the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States. Louisiana's secession was announced on January 26, 1861, and it became part of the Confederate States of America.
The state was quickly defeated in the Civil War, a result of Union strategy to cut the Confederacy in two by seizing the Mississippi. Federal troops captured New Orleans on April 25, 1862. Because a large part of the population had Union sympathies (or compatible commercial interests), the Federal government took the unusual step of designating the areas of Louisiana under Federal control as a state within the Union, with its own elected representatives to the U.S. Congress.
Post Civil War (1865–1945)
Following the Civil War and emancipation of slaves, violence rose in the South as the war was carried on by paramilitary and private groups. Some ex-Confederate dominated legislatures passed Black Codes to regulate freedmen and generally refused to give them suffrage, nor to extend voting rights to African Americans who had been free before the war and had sometimes obtained education and property (as in New Orleans.) Following the Memphis Riots of 1866 and the New Orleans Riot the same year, Congress developed the Fourteenth Amendment to provide for suffrage and full citizenship for freedmen, and passed Reconstruction Act establishing military districts for those states where conditions were considered the worst, including Louisiana. It was grouped with Texas in what was administered as the Fifth Military District.
African Americans began to live as citizens with some measure of equality before the law. Both freedmen and people of color who had been free before the war began to make more advances in education, family stability and jobs. At the same time, there was tremendous social volatility in the aftermath of war, with many whites actively resisting defeat. White insurgents mobilized to enforce white supremacy, first in Ku Klux Klan chapters.
By 1877, when federal forces were withdrawn, white Democrats in Louisiana and other staes had regained control of state legislatures, often by paramilitary groups suppressing black voting through intimidation and violence. Following Mississippi's example in 1890, in 1898, the white Democratic, planter-dominated legislature passed a new constitution that effectively disfranchised blacks and people of color, by requirements for voter registration, such as poll taxes, residency requirements and literacy tests, whose implementation was directed at reducing black voter registration. The effect was immediate and long lasting. In 1896, there were 130,334 black voters on the rolls and about the same number of white voters, in proportion to the state population, which was evenly divided.
The state population in 1900 was 47% African-American: a total of 652,013 citizens, of whom many in New Orleans were descendants of Creoles of color, the sizeable population of free people of color who had been established long before the Civil War. By 1900, two years after the new constitution, only 5,320 black voters were registered in the state. Because of disfranchisement, by 1910 there were only 730 black voters (less than 0.5 percent of eligible African-American men), despite advances in education and literacy among blacks and people of color. Without being able to vote, blacks were excluded from juries and running for any political office. White Democrats had established one-party Democratic rule, which they maintained in the state for decades deep into the 20th century until Congressional passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act provided federal enforcement of the constitutional right to vote.
In the early decades of the 20th century, thousands of African Americans left Louisiana in the Great Migration north to industrial cities for jobs and education, and to escape Jim Crow society and lynchings. The boll weevil infestation and agricultural problems had cost sharecroppers and farmers their jobs. The mechanization of agriculture also reduced the need for laborers. Beginning in the 1940s, blacks went West to California for jobs in its expanding defense industries.
During some of the Great Depression, Louisiana was led by Governor Huey Long. He was elected to office on populist appeal. Though popular for his public works projects, which provided thousands of jobs to people in need, and for his programs in education and increased suffrage for poor whites, Long was criticized for his allegedly demogogic and autocratic style. He extended patronage control through every branch of Louisiana's state government. Especially controversial were his plans for wealth redistribution in the state. Long's rule ended abruptly when he was assassinated in the state capitol in 1935.
Post World War 2 (1945–)
Mobilization for World War II created jobs in the state. Thousands of other workers, black and white alike, migrated to California for better jobs in its burgeoning defense industry. Many African Americans left the state in the Second Great Migration, from the 1940s through the 1960s. The mechanization of agriculture in the 1930s had sharply cut the need for laborers. They sought skilled jobs in the defense industry in California, better education for their children, and living opportunities in communities where they could vote.
In the 1950s the state created new requirements for a citizenship test for voter registration. Despite opposition by the States Rights Party, downstate black voters began to increase their rate of registration, which also reflected the growth of their middle classes. Gradually black voter registration and turnout increased to 20% and more, and it was 32% in 1964, when the first civil rights legislation of the era was passed. The percentage of black voters ranged widely in the state during these years, from 93.8% in Evangeline Parish to 1.7% in Tensas Parish, for instance.
Patterns of Jim Crow segregation against African Americans still ruled in Louisiana in the 1960s. Because of the Great Migration of blacks to the north and west, and growth of other groups in the state, by 1960 the proportion of African Americans in Louisiana had dropped to 32%. The 1,039,207 black citizens were adversely affected by segregation and efforts at disfranchisement. African Americans continued to suffer disproportionate discriminatory application of the state's voter registration rules. Because of better opportunities elsewhere, from 1965 to 1970, blacks continued to migrate from Louisiana, for a net loss of more than 37,000 people. During the latter period, some people began to migrate to cities of the New South for opportunities.
In August 2005, New Orleans and many other low-lying parts of the state along the Gulf of Mexico were hit by the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina. It caused widespread damage due to breaching of levees and large-scale flooding of more than 80% of the city. Officials issued warnings to evacuate the city and nearby areas, but tens of thousands of people, mostly African Americans, had stayed behind, some stranded, and suffered through the damage of the widespread floodwaters.
Note: Louisiana west of the Mississippi River was mostly part of the Louisiana Territory, which was ceded by Spain to France in 1803 and then sold by France to the United States. In 1804 much of the present State was included in the newly established Orleans Territory; the rest of the Louisiana Purchase became Louisiana Territory, renamed Missouri Territory in 1812. Louisiana was admitted as a State on April 30, 1812 and immediately added the Florida Parishes east of the Mississippi and north of Lake Pontchartrain, although these still were claimed by Spain until 1819. Also in 1819, the boundary with Mexico (Texas) was settled by treaty, bringing the State to essentially its present limits. In 1810 the census covered most of the settled parts of what is now Louisiana, except for the Florida Parishes east of the Mississippi River. By 1820 census coverage extended to virtually all of the present State. Louisiana's primary subdivisions have long been termed parishes instead of counties; both terms appear in early censuses.. Total for 1810 is for Orleans Territory, and excludes the Florida Parishes east of the Mississippi River. Total for 1830 includes 210 persons returned in the aggregate rather than by county. Total for 1890 includes 1 Indian in prison, not reported by parish.
Births, Marriages, and Deaths
On Ancestry.com, the following Louisiana vital records databases are available to subscribers:
FamilySearch.org has a variety of collections available for free online:
Outstanding guide to Louisiana family history and genealogy (FamilySearch Research Wiki). Birth, marriage, and death records, wills, deeds, county records, notarial records, archives, Bible records, cemeteries, churches, censuses, directories, immigration lists, naturalizations, maps, history, newspapers, and societies.