205 Audubon Avenue
Thibodaux, LA 70301
As Historical Research Center Archivist, it is with utmost importance to oversee that the sacramental records are housed and recorded in a manner relative to Canon Law. The Archive has gone through positive changes that are beneficial to both church parishes and interested individuals searching for ancestral background.
Of importance, the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux was formed in 1977, from a division of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Of the 39 church parishes within our jurisdiction, the Archive stores more than half of the original church registers. Historically, our records date back to the late 1700s and due to the aging factor; all sacramental volumes prior to 1950 are microfilmed and permanently stored in the archival facility. Records prior to 1900 are listed in Rev. Donald Hebert's 12-volume set and typed on cards. Documents of baptisms, marriages and funerals from the 1900s forward are being entered into the computer, followed by a print-out and computer backup. Although the computer serves as an easy access to stored data, it does not replace a mandatory hand-written register.
The most important service of the center is the issuance of sacramental certificates. There are a variety of ways to purchase documents. One can phone, mail, fax, email or visit the facility. There is also a web depicting related subject-matter offered by the Archive to interested parties. Recently, a valuable asset was introduced to the public. Family tree lineages are now offered by reliable volunteers for a minimal fee, and the library room is opened to anyone interested in furthering their research. The historical establishment is one of a very few within the United States where an individual can actually visit and wait for records to be processed. In addition to the religious documents, other related material such as vital records, surname literature, various genealogical club quarterlies, newspaper obituaries, census and cemetery records and indices to neighboring diocesan archives are available.
A grant was received from the Lorio Foundation to rebind, repair and de-acidify our sacramental registers. Although the project took over three years to complete, the ending results were remarkable. Over 300 books have been refurbished. The preservation of the historical documents was definitely needed and deeply appreciated.
The facility now houses a pictorial history. Photos of confirmations and weddings of yesteryear were collected from individuals within our diocesan church parishes and put on display for a period of time. Each portrait was scanned, printed, indexed by surname and transferred to a compact disc. The pictures are now housed in the archival vault for future generations to enjoy.
Our volunteer support has increased. The pleasant atmosphere attracts reliable and dedicated individuals to the facility. Each person is assigned a designated project, and "the assembly line" works great.
In summary, the Historical Research Center has become more "user-friendly." The sacramental books prior to 1950 have been collected and restored, a website has been created, over 30,000 entries have been added to our computer data base, there are now a variety of ways to request documents, a pictorial history was collected, genealogical services are available and volunteer workers are coming forward to lend a helping hand. Although much as been accomplished in the last few years at the facility, there is still many goals yet to be achieved.