The frustrations of researching in Terrebonne Parish

A few years ago, I took a day off work and drove to Houma, the parish seat of Terrebonne, to do a little courthouse research. I looked through the record indexes, made a short list of the files I wanted and handed it to the clerk. I was told to come back in a week to collect them. A WEEK?

I’m used to that kind of response in New Orleans, where records are kept in other buildings because of the volume of records. Houma, on the other hand, doesn’t even have a Costco. It has exactly one movie theater. My cousin’s senior prom was held in a former TG&Y. You get my point.

After swallowing my shock, I asked exactly where the records were located. “Oh, they’re upstairs,” the clerk told me. “But we’re only allowed to go up there once a week.”

I didn’t ask why they only retrieve records once a week. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume there’s a poltergeist on the second floor of the Terrebonne Parish Courthouse. The only person brave enough to confront it is a blue-haired old lady who only works once a week.

Needless to say, I didn’t take a second day off work to return for the records. I was annoyed. Records should be accessible unless they’re stored offsite. Most other courthouses in Louisiana are very obliging. Terrebonne Parish isn’t.

Even more annoying, Terrebonne Parish hasn’t allowed the Church of Latter Day Saints to photograph its records. So, you have to drive to Houma, put in your order and then come back in a week.



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