Louisiana Chat Series #1: Chat with Judy Riffel
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lynda: --Good evening! Welcome the Afrigeneas Chat Room -Tonight, we are honored to have Judy Riffel open the Louisiana Chat Series --Many of you know Judy from the Louisiana State Archives - where she has been a volunteer and 'Friend' of the Archives since 1987 --She has also been responsible for the publication of many AA Louisiana records--So.. please join us in giving a warm welcome to Judy Riffel
AYWalton: --Welcome Judy!!
Judy_Riffel: --Thank you.
Denise: --Thanks for coming Judy :)
dena: --Welcome Judy!!
Mable --Looking forward to hearing Ms. Judy Riffel.
Judy_Riffel: --I'm happy to be here.
lynda: --Judy, we all know about vital records and census records. Does Louisiana have any other useful records that could aid in genealogical research?
Judy_Riffel: --Louisiana has an abundance of records that genealogists will find useful. But due to the state’s unique history, those records tend to be scattered around the state, country, and even the world. While that situation is slowly improving, knowing where to find particular records is the key to success in researching Louisiana ancestors.
lynda: --Thanks, Judy --Perhaps I need to let our participants know that they will have an opportunity to chat as soon as we complete our initial questions--Because of time constraints, we had some of our board visitors leave questions for Judy --Perhaps some of the questions are ones you all will find helpful --Judy, what are some of the differences African-Americans will encounter between Louisiana research and research in any other state?
Judy_Riffel: --AA's will encounter several differences. First, Louisiana’s legal system is somewhat different than all the other states because it’s based on French and Spanish law rather than English law. This is most noticeable to genealogists in the area of property and inheritance laws. Louisiana was also predominantly Catholic. This is a positive difference because Catholics often kept much more detailed vital records, particularly on their slaves, than Protestants. One drawback to Louisiana research is that even after the colonial period, many records are written in French and Spanish and are difficult for the average genealogist to decipher. Fortunately, guidebooks and calendars to many of the colonial records have been published, making them easier to research.
lynda: --Will African Americans encounter different genealogical research problems within Louisiana itself? e.g., North Louisiana parishes vs the South Louisiana Parishes.
Judy_Riffel: --AA’s will encounter a few problems in researching different parts of the state. The Anglo/Protestant settlements were predominantly in the northern part of the state while the older Catholic settlements were in the southern part. One notable exception is the early French settlement at Natchitoches in Northwestern Louisiana. The most frustrating problem researchers will find within the state, however, is the scattered courthouse fires that occurred in certain parishes. This can be particularly troublesome to AA researchers trying to locate conveyances of slaves and probate records containing inventories of slaves.
lynda: --Judy, what are some ‘tips’ for research within La?
Judy_Riffel: --One tip (that’s applicable in any state) is to learn about the history of the parish and area where your ancestors came from. When was it settled and by what ethnic group of people? When was the parish created and was it an original parish or was it created from another parish? This will help point you toward the right sources and research facilities. Vital records are another good source of genealogical information. People tend to want to begin with birth records, but outside of the larger cities, Louisiana did not start keeping civil birth records until the early 20th century. Death records are often a better place to start. A number of indexes to Louisiana death records are available for searching online. While these are not yet complete, they are a good place to start.
lynda: --What kinds of records are available from the traditionally black colleges in the state - both public and private?
Judy_Riffel: --College and university archives and libraries are usually geared more toward historians than genealogists. But they have many records that can be quite helpful to genealogists. College archives often hold unique manuscript collections donated by families and businesses. In Louisiana, the most notable collection at a traditionally black institutions that I can think of is the Heartman Collection of Manuscripts on Slavery at Xavier University in New Orleans. This collection is available on microfilm at many other research facilities in the state and there is a guide book. Among other institutions in the state, there are notable AA collections at Tulane University’s Amistad Research Center and at Louisiana State University’s Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collection. The latter facility has microfilm copies of the Records of Ante-Bellum Southern Plantations series put out by University Publications of America. These contain a wealth of information on slaves.
lynda: --We know that there were many periods of African-American migration from the south. Where did most of the out migration of AA’s go from La.?
Judy_Riffel: --I’ve never seen any statistics on where they tended to migrate when they left Louisiana, but my own experience from corresponding with other researchers is that the general direction was westward, particularly to Texas and California.
lynda: --Conversely, where were the majority of AA’s found in La. (not born in La.) from?
Judy_Riffel: --In colonial times, most of the slaves in La. came from Africa and the Caribbean. After the U.S. outlawed the importation of slaves in 1808, slaves were imported from other states. Around this time, Louisiana’s agriculture was growing and becoming more labor intensive and less so in the mid-Atlantic states. As a result, Louisiana became a slave importing state, with many slaves coming from the areas of Maryland and Virginia.
lynda: --Could you explain the system of racial classification used in La. under the French and Spanish - and how did it change once it became part of the U.S. (if it changed)?
Judy_Riffel: --In colonial times, there were a variety of terms used to designate different percentages of AA ancestry (mulatto, griffe, quadroon, octoroon, etc.). These terms were similar in English, French, and Spanish with minor variations. But, the definitions of these terms were not always consistent. For example, griffe usually meant 3/4 AA and 1/4 white ancestry, but could sometimes indicate Native American ancestry. The use of these specific terms declined in the 19th century, with the term mulatto being used to indicate some degree of white ancestry. While genealogists can use these terms as clues in their research, they can’t rely on them with 100% accuracy.
lynda: --Were there more Free People of Color (FPOC) in New Orleans than in other parts of the state, or were they fairly evenly distributed?
Judy_Riffel: --There were more FPOC in New Orleans simply because N.O. had the largest population. On a percentage basis, I can’t say. There were pockets of FPOC in other parts of the state. Probably the most famous was the “Cane River” area near Natchitoches in NW La. Other large FPOC populations existed in Pointe Coupee, Opelousas, and the river parishes between Baton Rouge and N.O.
lynda: --What types of Catholic records are useful for the genealogical researcher other than records of baptism?
Judy_Riffel: --Baptismal records are probably the most important source, particularly with that difficult problem of identifying slave owners. Burial records are also helpful and often identify the slave owner. There are even some slave marriage records. The problem is that most of the slave records have never been published. This is slowly changing. The Diocese of Baton Rouge, for instance, has published one volume of its earliest slave records. The late Father Donald Hebert also published one volume of slave records (volume 33) in his Southwest Louisiana Records series. Prior to his death, he was working on a series of volumes of all slave records from Southwest Louisiana. Unfortunately, this will probably never be completed.
lynda: --What research facilities are most helpful to genealogists in Louisiana?
Judy_Riffel: --Genealogy is very popular in Louisiana and there are many excellent research facilities. The Louisiana State Archives, where I work as a volunteer, is a great place to get started. They have all civil death records more than 50 years old and civil birth records more than 100 years old. They also have Louisiana census records, military records, immigration records, and many colonial records. A number of parishes also have fine genealogical collections. The larger ones can be found in Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Alexandria, and New Orleans. The Clerks of Court in each parish hold the civil marriages, probates, and conveyance records which are essential to genealogical research. You will find some, but not all, of their records on microfilm in various libraries and through the LDS Library. Finally, LSU has the largest Louisiana newspaper collection in the state in addition to the plantation records I mentioned earlier
lynda: --Thanks, Judy! We will now move to the Q&A's
africreole: --Yes...I'd like to comment on the slave records in Fr Hebert's
lpw: --What is the most effective method to ascertain what slave owners owned my Louisiana Ancestors?
lynda: --africreole, you have a question - lpw is next
africreole: --Fr Hebert does have some slave records as well as FPOC records mixed in his books
lynda: --Thanks for the comment africreole
Denise: --lpw - you are next
kwhitney1005 --can I listen to chat by presenter?
Denise: --you had a question? 21:32:18
lpw: --What is the most effective method for ascertaining what slave owners owned my Louisiana ancestors?
Judy_Riffel: --I would begin with the 1870 census. The location will help identify potential slave owners.
dena: --I research in Union Parish, LA, but, they don't answer or respond to mail, even if you have the information..Is there another place that would have Union Parish Records?
doctorroots: --Research teams should escavate every record in Louisiana and put it in accessible form. Then thousands will be able to find their slave ancestor
Denise: --Please wait to be called on --Please be patient While Judy type's your answers :)
Judy_Riffel: --Dena, you can check to see if the LDS Church has microfilmed any of the Clerk's records.
dena: --Thanks, I will do that.
Denise: --Doctorroots - you had a comment?
doctorroots: --check out the Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, NC, has a lot of Louisinaa slave data
Denise: --thank you for that comment--Sgillins - go ahead
sgillins: --In response to lpw, I have been very successful with conveyance records (St. Mary Parish) in identifying the owners of my ancestors. This is especially true when an owner dies and there must be an inventory taken of the owner's possessions.
Judy_Riffel: --Yes, probate records are an excellent source of slave info.
Denise: --Sgillins - please continue --but type "ga " when finished
dena: --What is the difference between succession records and wills?
sgillins: --ga on the probate records.
Denise: --thank you--Dena
Judy_Riffel: --A probate may or may not contain a will. If the person died without leaving a will, his died "intestate." --If he owned property, his property still has to go through probate. The laws of the state will determine how it is distributed. --Probate and succession are often used interchangeably.
Denise: --sgillens ga
Judy_Riffel: --sgillins what was your question?
sgillins: --I found both gr.gr.grandparents in the inventory of estates. Question, was there a voter registrationfor AA done after the end of slavery?
Judy_Riffel: --Yes, there are some.
Judy_Riffel: --There are some scattered ones in the State Archives.
doctorroots: --Have you ever looked at the US Custom Service Records for slave ship records?
Sentry: --Too much time on one person. Give us a chance. ga
Denise: --Please remember... If you have a question, type and send a question mark (?), then wait to be recognized before asking the question. To make a comment, use an exclamation point (!). Type "ga" (go ahead) at the end of your question or comment. Using this method helps to keep an orderly chat session. Thank you.
Denise: --Sentry - did you have a question?--please go ahead
Sentry: --Yes. ga
Denise: --Sentry - state your question please :)
Sentry: --where can i find more on the garrigus project?ga
Judy_Riffel: --I'm sorry. I'm not familiar with that project.
Sentry: --He is a professor at LSU.ga|
Judy_Riffel: --If you will send me some info on it, I can try to find out more about it.
Denise: --are there any other people who have not had a chance to ask a question or comment - if so please raise your hands by typing "?" or "!" --are there any other questions for our guest? :)
doctorroots: --Have you ever looked at the US Custom Service Records, port of New Orleans,1807-1860?ga
sgillins: --I read in Dr. Woodtor's book that the transportation of slaves across state lines required some paperwork similar to a passport. Can you tell me anything about that in LA? ga
Judy_Riffel: --I have not seen any records like that here in La.
lynda: --Thanks, everyone. We are close to the end of our session. --We will continue with the current questions -
Sentry: --Thank you. Please arrange a new method of hosting. . .
lynda: --Doctorroots, you have a question? sgilins is next
doctorroots: --Custom records have you seen themn
Judy_Riffel: --I've just finished reading a new book called Cash for Blood, The Baltimore to N.O. Domestic Slave Trade. --It has a list of slaves imported to N.O.
doctorroots: --I found those records and listed them in my book Black Genesis-ga
lynda: --Thank you doctorroots, sgilliins you have a question?
sgillins: --Is it possible to print the proceedings of this chat? ga
Denise: --Logs will be printed and posted --posted - and you print :)
lynda: --ShellH, you have a question?
ShellH: --Should we assume that ancestors on the census born in Louisiana and Mulatto in 1870 were Creole or Native American?ga
mmdoomes --Are Louisiana birth and death records availabe online?
Judy_Riffel: --Mulatto can refer to both.
lynda: --sgillins? You have a question?
sgillins: --Regarding the earlier discussion of death certificates, my gr.grandmother named her slave owner as her father. I was overwhelmed. ga
Judy_Riffel: --The deceased did not give the info for the death certificate. The informant gave the info.
lynda: --So, in sgillins case, she will need to see how reliable the informant was?
Judy_Riffel: --I'm sure that slave owners fathered many slave children.
Sentry: --Thanks Denise. Learned a lot of patience! ga
lynda: --Dena, you have a question?
dena: --To your knowledge, are there any books that relate to Union Parish, LA? Regarding it's history that is? ga
Judy_Riffel: --There are some historical books on North La. that would include Union Parish.
Denise: --Free for all chat time :)
Judy_Riffel: --I've not seen any separate history Union Parish history books.
lynda: --Doctorroots you had a question?
doctorroots: --Has their been any work done on passing in La and also has anyone documented the white s who passed ga
dena: --thank you so much for being here. I really enjoyed it, even though i spoke out of turn a lot of the time.
Denise: --applause for Judy !!!! --this was her first chat :)
lynda: --Thank you so much Judy for being here!
africreole: --you did well Judy
ShellH: --Thanks Judy.
Judy_Riffel: --Thank you for inviting me. I enjoyed it.
Sentry: --Thanks Judy
sgillins: --Thank you Judy. I wish I could just pick your brain for hours.
Sandra_in_BR: --Thank you Judy. :)
Crystal: --thanks judy
lynda: --Any other questions for Judy?
doctorroots: --thanks Judy I look forward to meeting you
africreole: --I'd like to add that if you are in Baton Rouge , LA . You'll find Judy at teh State Archives
sgillins: --Do you have contact information?
dena: --Judy needs to host a special on PBS!
lynda: --Judy has agreed to stay a bit longer - if there is anyone that still has a question, please chime in!
Judy_Riffel: --Yes, I'm usually there on weekends.
Denise: --mmdoomes had a question
doctorroots: --whats your email Judy?ga
sgillins: --Will you be attending the conference in NO in October sponsored by the Creole Studies?
mmdoomes: --What are the weekend hours for the archives?
Judy_Riffel: --No, to the Creole conference. Weekend hours are 9-5 Sat & 1-5 Sun.
Sandra_in_BR: --I'll be looking to meet you there. :)
Sentry: --The garrigus project is online, under the subject on the Haitian revolt, but is not up to date.
Denise: --Judy - i was wondering if many slaves from LA were shipped out of the US - to French Islands? --instead of the reverse--ga
Judy_Riffel: --I've not seen any records of slave being exported. La. was more of an importer of slaves because of the need for labor on the plantations.
Denise: --k - ty
dena: --Judy, you have done the descendents of African American Slaves a wonderful favor..May they continue to guide you. Peace.
lynda: --For those that don't already know, Judy teaches a class in Louisiana African American Genealogy
Florence: --Good information. Thank you.
lynda: --Judy, can you tell us a little about your class?
Judy_Riffel: --It is a two night class at LSU. --The next session is June 17 and 24.
up: --where would one write for pre 1911 death records, if there are any
Sandra_in_BR: --Is the class full? How much does it cost?
Judy_Riffel: --The class is not full.
ET: --Do you have a web-site, Judy?
Judy_Riffel: --Asfor pre-1911 deaths, there are some for New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport only.
sgillins: --Anything in July? I'll be in Texas and will be doing some research in LA. Any thoughts of conducting the class onlinee?
Judy_Riffel: --The next session will be around November.
Sandra_in_BR: --Thanks, I'm interested in taking the class. Where does one register? Can one register online?How much does it cost?--Oh, thanks. :)
Judy_Riffel: --Contact LSU Leisure Classes. I'm looking up the number.
Sandra_in_BR: --Thank you.
up: --on average how early a death record do the parish have
Judy_Riffel: --225-578-5118. There is no on-line registration.
Sandra_in_BR: --Thanks again.
ET: --Well, now that we can finally 'let it all hang-out!!! Thanks Judy!
sgillins: --Will the person who is researching BAPTISTE please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Judy_Riffel: --Outside of the cities I mentioned, most started keeping death records around 1918.
Sentry: --sgillins! will do.
Denise: --Many thanks to Lynda for all the wqork she did to pull this together !!!!!
up: --early you said there were index out there for LA are any online
veekayinn: --This has been a great session
Sandra_in_BR: --Thank you Lynda; I have enjoyed it.
sgillins: --Thanks Lynda for your hard work. I really enjoyed this.
veekayinn: --Cheers Judy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
vicky: --I cant wait for the next one
ShellH: --great hosting, thanks.
lynda: --Thanks to all participants! BIGGG Thanks to Judy - who didn't know what to expect :)--Everyone is welcomed to 'sit and chat' awhile...
Judy_Riffel: --Orleans death indexes are being posted on Rootsweb.
lynda: --Perhaps we can get Judy to come back again real soon ? :)
Denise: --please please
ET System:All of these chat rooms are open 24/7 for both scheduled and unscheduled chat sessions (and most of the time, you don't have to raise your hand!). Use them whenever you like to discuss your genealogy.
veekayinn: --Please say yes Judy
vicky: --That I would love Judy!!!
Judy_Riffel: --Sure. Just let me know when. It was fun.
sgillins: --Judy, when are you going to put your knowledge in book form? We thirst!
Sentry: --when is the best time to reach you? --I did not see an e-mail address for Judy_Riffel !
vkn: --Warmest hugs to all who came tonite and to the host and helpers "y'all da bomb"
Denise: --ty vkn