If you are not familiar with the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research in Houston, Texas…you should be. Begun as a separate collection in 1921, Clayton Library has become one of the best genealogical libraries in the United States.
Staff at the library doesn’t just know the resources, they’ve actually done genealogy research. One staffer, Franklin Carter Smith, wrote “The Genealogist’s Guide to Discovering Your African-American Ancestors” an easy to use source for budding genealogists.
When you walk into the facility you feel that you are accommodated as a researcher. There are lockers for your stuff, there’s a snack room so you can eat something during those long days of researching, plenty of outlets for electronic devices and it’s quiet but not too quiet. What makes you feel the happiest is the staff that understands genealogy and really knows how, and is eager, to help you.
The library’s collection includes Louisiana colonial Records and it has one of the largest microfilmed collections in the country of the Papeles Procedentes de Cuba (Cuban Papers) which is a collection of documents generated by the Spanish government for the Mississippi Valley, Gulf Coast and East and West Florida, as well as a substantial collection of Records of Ante-Bellum Southern Plantations, on microfilm.
Clayton Library has many state and county resources available on microprint and in book form. These include state and county histories as well as abstracts of records such as wills, deeds, marriages, court minutes, vital records, church and cemetery records and colonial collections. There is a substantial Louisiana section that includes many colonial records.
Since I do most of my researching in St. Landry and Orleans Parishes some interesting collections I found were:
1) “Selected Papers by Winston DeVille A Collection of Articles for Colonial Genealogy and History” that included
- “Louisiana’s Runaway Slave Fund of 1792”
- “Slave Masters of New Orleans: The Vieux Carre in 1796”
- “The Margarita Case: Historical Perspective on a Controversial Case in 18th Century Louisiana” that describes the origin of the south Louisiana multi-ethnic Guillory family which is fairly widely known in southwest Louisiana.
2) 50th Anniversary Edition of the Crowley Daily Sentinel with interesting articles such as
- “Baptism of Slaves is Legendary Lore in Church Point”
- A picture of Church Point in 1912 with snow
3) “Louisiana Successions: Volume 1 St. Landry Parish 1807 – 1865” which is an index of successions during this period
4) “Southwest Louisiana in 1807: The Land and Slave Tax of St. Landry Parish in the Territory of Orleans”
5) “Landholders of Southwest Louisiana: Tax Lists for St. Landry Parish, 1817 and 1818”
Of course, these resources can be found individually in other libraries but the volume of material here for the region as well as individual parishes is a great collection. You can find a number of resources in one place without having to run to several libraries looking for material. A great time saver. What a great resource if you live in or close by Houston. And, from New Orleans you can drive, take the Mega Bus or Amtrak to Houston to do your research. There’s nothing to stop you!
You can sign up to receive the Clayton Town Crier, a quarterly newsletter that offers insight into the exciting family history research resources available at the library. There is also the Clayton Extra a monthly newsletter which announces classes for that month and any other library-related information. Both subscriptions are free at http://www.houstonlibrary.org/nextreads.
So, definitely look toward Houston and the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research as a resource for your Louisiana family history research.