Explore the Past with Digital Genealogy and Local History Resources

The New Orleans Public Library provides access to a wide range of online resources from your home computer. 

Summer is a time to explore, learn new things, and spend time with family. However, in New Orleans, we must always consider the heat, rain, and bugs before planning a fun day. If braving the humidity and mosquitos one day is not in the plans, and you would rather enjoy the air conditioning, you do not have to give up exploring, learning new things, and spending time with family.  

“Daily Fashion Hint,” a regular feature of the Daily Picayune, 1907. 

A great way to connect with people and discover exciting stories is to delve into genealogy and local history research. The New Orleans Public Library (NOPL) provides a wide range of online digital resources to enjoy any time at home (with a library card) or in person at any of our 15 locations. You can identify your grandfather’s profession, locate your great aunt’s house, or discover the stores your grandmother would have shopped at through our genealogy and local history resources. 

  • HeritageQuest provides access to genealogy-related books, the U.S. Census, Freedman’s Bank Records, war pension records, and much more. Researchers can access scans of original documents and other resources from around the world. With the NOPL’s access to the Fold 3 database, you can research stories, photos, records, and personal documents of those who served in the military. HeritageQuest and Fold 3 are available at home with a Library card or at all Library locations.  
  • Fire Insurance Maps Online provides access to full color digital versions of Sanborn Maps. These maps present an overhead view that outline the properties and structures on them in New Orleans during various points in time. Researchers can see where a house may have been located and what the neighborhood surrounding it looked like. Fire Insurance Maps Online is available at home with a library card or at all NOPL branches.  
  • New Orleans Newspapers offers access to over one hundred eighty years of New Orleans newspapers. This includes full text searchable scans of each page of a paper from 1837 to 1989. Issues from 1990 to the present are available in either a scanned version or a text version. You also can search for specific terms or browse by date.  
  • Newspapers.com provides full text searchable versions of many newspapers popular in New Orleans and other areas of the Southeast United States. Here you will find papers that ran for a short time or represent smaller localities. New Orleans Newspapers and Newspapers.com are available from home with a library card and at all branches.  

These are just a few of the many genealogy and local history-related resources provided by the NOPL. Our staff is available to help you explore the library’s genealogy and local history resources and find adventure in the process of exploring the past. If you need a guide or just have some questions, please call the City Archives & Special Collections at 504-596-2610, or email archivist@nolalibrary.org. In addition to answering questions, we can provide further resources, walk you through the digital content or set up an appointment, as needed.  

Christina Bryant, MLIS, CA, is the director of the City Archives and Special Collections at the New Orleans Public Library. 

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