If you are studying Louisiana genealogy, you will have several avenues to pursue. The main source for information is through the state-registered vital records but there are other places you can look for alternative material as well. Overall, the state basically started collecting birth and death registrations in 1907 though some parishes have their own records that are older.
Louisiana Vital Records
Though there may be birth records that go back to 1907 or farther (death and marriage start in 1957), you will have some difficulty getting copies of them unless you are a direct relation to the person on the record. Privacy laws keep birth records private for 100 years, except to immediate family members. After 100 years, you are free to request any records you would like. Similar restrictions exist for death records, only the time is just 50 years.
Anything within those time frames can be requested from the Department of Health, the Vital Records and Statistics section in New Orleans. Their website has the proper forms for this along with the fees and current instructions. You can also order marriage records from this office as long as the marriage took place in New Orleans parish. For other marriages, you will have to make your request at the parish office.
Birth records are issued as either a long form or a short form, and they will cost $15 and $19 respectively to get copies. Death and marriage records go for $7 each. When the clerks cannot find the record you have requested, you will get a notice saying that no file was found. Don’t expect to get a refund.
If you are after birth records more than 100 years old, or death records more than 50 years old, you will have to turn your Louisiana genealogy search elsewhere.
Louisiana State Archives
The vital records no longer kept by the Vital Records office are moved to the State Archives. Along with older vital records, their collections have quite a bit more Louisiana genealogy material available for public research. Visiting their Baton Rouge location can yield census records, church records, immigration documents, passenger manifests, colonial documents and a database of Confederate material as well.
If you cannot bet to Baton Rouge, they will make copies of documents for you and send them by mail. There are fees for this, and you will have to contact the Archives for the details.
Other Groups and Societies
More serious Louisiana genealogy research will probably benefit from membership in one of the many groups on the subject. There are genealogy societies based in each county, and larger state-wide groups as well. The Louisiana Genealogy and Historical Society is the largest and most wide-spread group, but there are also regional options such as the Southwest Louisiana Genealogy Society.
Not only will these groups put you in touch with other members who may have information on your family, the group may have its own collection of references separate from what you would find at the State Archives. Either way, there is more information to be found through any of these groups.