Genealogists and local historians are converging on libraries and information repositories in record numbers, armed with questions and determined to locate answers buried in the documentary annals of the past. This crusade is sometimes met with the same confounding and perplexing problems that challenge library genealogy and local history professionals - a proliferation of information resources, the questionable accuracy and validity of certain sources and the daunting and repetitive task of instructing end users in meaningful inquiry and research. In response to these changes, the New Orleans Public Library (NOPL) and The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC) are collaborating on an effort to computerize and then upload to their institutional web sites NOPL’s Louisiana Biography & Obituary Index, the primary local history reference tool card file index of biographical information found in New Orleans newspaper obituaries from approximately 1804 to 1972. Currently, fourteen aging metal file cabinets on the third floor of the Louisiana Division of the New Orleans Public Library (NOPL) contain over 650,000 index cards of information, some with multiple citations that have been described by researchers as a treasure trove and remarkable historical chronicle of local characters and color.

Publication Date

Spring 2004