LSU Special Collections completes NHPRC grant

The LSU Libraries Special Collections is pleased to announce the completion of a 3.5 year, $196,140 grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission to microfilm Transcriptions of Louisiana Police Jury Records created by the Louisiana Historical Records Survey during the New Deal. In paper form, the collection totals 206 cubic feet and resulted in 581 35mm reels.

Police juries are the governing body of Louisiana’s parishes, and 60 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes are represented in the collection. Their meeting minutes and ordinances document local government responsibility; parish budgets and taxes, citizen participation in and expectations of government; settlement of the state’s rural areas and changes in land ownership; local ordinances governing slavery and local attitudes about it, as well as the changing status of African Americans after emancipation. The records reflect topics such as the development of education for blacks and whites, the battle to control yellow fever, livestock maintenance, transportation, and flood control and levee-building. The records also contain genealogical information, useful in identifying ancestors’ places of residence, death dates, and role in their communities.

Microfilming was necessary to preserve these important historical records, as the transcribers used poor-quality wood-pulp paper, which had become embrittled to the point where every use was damaging. Further, the order of the collection was at times confusing and incorrect. In addition to the physical access problems, intellectual access to the transcriptions was hampered by an inadequate and difficult to use finding aid. Therefore, the collection was also reprocessed and a new and improved finding aid produced. The pdf version is available here.

The LSU Libraries will make copies of the microfilm available to library patrons, both at LSU and via interlibrary lending, and positive use copies of the film are available for purchase. For more information about these services, please contact Special Collections Public Services, Hill Memorial Library, Baton Rouge, LA 70803; phone 225-578-6568; fax 225-578-9425; or through our website. A second set of the microfilm is available to the public at the State Archives of Louisiana.

Andrée Bourgeois, now with Access Sciences Corp, Houston, TX, served as the project graduate assistant, and Tara Laver, Curator of Manuscripts, was the project director. Elizabeth Dow, Associate Professor of Library and Information Science, was invaluable in refining the mark-up and display of the EAD version of the finding aid, and former LSU SLIS student Jennifer Pino, now employed at Boston University, also assisted with tagging.

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