A powerful and painful piece of history is now available online.
Details, from the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
The Archdiocese of New Orleans on Tuesday unveiled an internet database listing the baptisms of thousands of slaves and other persons of color at St. Louis Cathedral beginning in 1777 — deploying a tool church officials said would help countless genealogy buffs pull their forebears out of near anonymity.Times-Picayune archiveArchbishop Gregory Aymond hopes the list of baptisms will offer a belated measure of dignity.
The site at http://www.archdiocese-no.org/archives/sfpc.php shows photocopied pages in which Spanish Capuchin priests at the cathedral recorded thousands of slave baptisms, as well as those as free persons of color.
Five of 43 similar registers are available for searching online now, said archdiocesan archivist Emilie Leumas.
She said the archdiocese hoped by next year to place online its sacramental records from the founding of the city in 1718 to 1812, the year Louisiana was accepted into the United States.
Officials cautioned that the records are rarely useful by themselves. But armed with data like civil census or city real estate data, they give even experienced amateurs everywhere a new tool with which to locate an enslaved ancestor.
Because slaves were not given last names that can be indexed, they have never been listed in genealogical databases currently in use, church officials said.
The records note the baptisms and funerals of slaves presented at the altar with only first names, stripped of the humanity of family names, Archbishop Gregory Aymond said.
They make plain the brutality of slavery. But the internet publication of the most important events of their lives offers a belated measure of dignity, Aymond said.
The database was launched on the first day of Black History Month.
Check out more at the link.