Did you know that Louisiana offers an online, digital library with “more than 144,000 digital items from Louisiana archives, libraries, museums, and other repositories, making unique historical treasure accessible to students, researchers, and the general public in Louisiana and across the globe?”
The library draws on a number of other archives: the Louisiana State Museum, state universities, Vermilionville Living History Museum (a must if you’re ever in Acadiana), etc.
Some of it is interesting. Some of it is not, at least to me. But some of it gets more interesting than you’d at first think.
I took a dive into the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans. Frankly, I wasn’t expecting to be enthused. But I found a yellow fever collection that intrigued me. Everything you’d want to know about yellow fever is in there.
Buried in the collection is a report on New Orleans yellow fever deaths in 1878.
Nicholls has a collection on veterans of Southeast Louisiana.
The university interviewed local veterans and collected photographs and stories from them. The interviews were videotaped. You can look through the gallery of photos online.
LSU-Shreveport has collected photos of the Strand Theater in downtown Shreveport. This is a grand theater that hosts movies and plays. My parents took me to see “Singin In the Rain” there when I was a kid. It was a special screening (I’m not that old!), and I was so struck by the palace-style movie theater that it was hard to watch the movie itself! Howard Hughes once holed up in a hotel just around the corner from the Strand when he was staying in Shreveport for a bit.
The Louisiana State Museum collection doesn’t disappoint. It has amassed a treasure trove of materials, including photographs and oral histories.
Just of the museum’s collection is a series of house photos. You’ll find residences that no longer stand.
I was not the best science student in school. Reading, yes. Writing, fine. Math, surprisingly, yes. Science, no way. Don’t ask me why. My father is a scientist. My grandfather is a scientist. Apparently I didn’t get those genes.
So, months after getting my Ancestry DNA results, I’m trying to figure out what they mean. Anyone else in the same boat?
Some of it I understand. My ancestors came from the British Isles and France. Well, I knew that already.
My ancestors traveled to Acadia. Knew that.
Ancestry has extremely high confidence that my DNA matches the DNA of my grandparents. Knew that.
I’m related to Aucoins, Penissons and Giroirs. Knew that.
What I’d really like to know if it’s true there was a Spanish grandmother in the family tree as my granny always insisted. Still don’t know that.
I’ve come across family photos in antique stores, and they always make me a little sad. It’s like seeing a wedding dress at an estate sale. No one valued these sentimental things enough to hold onto them. What is wrong with people?
The other day, I was on Etsy – where I spend far too much time – and came across vintage photos from family photo albums. Why you’d want to buy a picture of a Victorian era baby from someone else’s family is beyond me, but apparently there’s a customer base for that.
Some of the photos even have identifications. So if you never thought about looking on Etsy for your long lost family photo album, you might want to take a tour.
I found this piece of paper while going through an old file folder. It’s in my Granny’s handwriting. Since she’s now gone, this is priceless to me.
My grandmother on the other side of the family is the genealogy buff. When my mother married into that family, the genealogy bug must have spread. Suddenly, Granny Hebert was scribbling down her own family history.
On the note above, she wrote down her father’s family.
Granny Hebert was born to Albert Gauthreaux and Isabelle Giroir Gauthreaux. Albert’s lineage is a little confusing. His parents were Cordelia Gauthreaux (or Cordilier in the baptism record) and Amarante Aucoin (or Merante). Amarante was married twice. A son by her first marriage – Oleus Montet – married Isabelle’s sister, Louise. See how confusing this gets?
Cordelia and Amarante had three children of their own: Albert, Azolin and Cecilia. Cecilia is a bit of a mystery. Granny was very close to Azolin’s children, but I never heard her mention Cecilia’s children. Apparently she married and died young but had at least a few children. I have no idea where she’s buried or who her children were. Now – with Granny gone – I’m curious about Cecilia. She’s a loose end, and I hate loose ends.
There, on a scrap of paper probably written when I was a baby, is Cecilia and a husband whose name I’d never heard before.
I’ve also come across notes that I took – and quickly forgot – when Granny was alive.
For example, I’ve written down that Granny was 4 when her mother died. Her sisters were 1 and 3. A boy who died at birth would have been 2. The youngest sister had just learned to walk.
Genealogy is about stories, at least for me. It’s heartbreaking that Isabelle died so young with such young children. It’s heartbreaking that Baby Pearl had just learned to walk when she lost her mother.
Go to the oldest member of your family and ask them to tell stories. Older people often love to visit the past. And your family tree won’t just be names. It will be alive with stories.