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MEETING OF THE IMPERIAL ST. LANDRY GENEALOGICAL AND HISTORICAL SOCIETY, held at 10:00 A.M., Saturday, August 11, 2001, in the third floor auditorium of the Opelousas General Hospital.
Estelle Perrault, president, called the meeting to order. She called upon JoAnne Savoie, treasurer, who announced that the society has received its long awaited copy of the CD containing Father Donald Hebert’s SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA RECORDS, which includes Volume 1 through 31. Also included in the society’s CD library is a new cemetery data base, which will allow us to compile our local cemetery information, and will allow the inclusion of photographs and obituaries. Another addition is a CD which permits the user to print graphs, charts, census forms, and family charts. All of these resources are available to members by appointment. Sue Deville, director of the Opelousas Museum and Interpretive Center announced that Father Hebert’s CD is available at the museum for $375.00.
Miss Perrault announced that Lou Arceneaux gave the society two copies of BONNE NOUVELLE, a Ville Platte newspaper, and they will be placed in our library. A work party will be scheduled for labeling the society’s library inventory.
Dr. Florent Hardy, Jr., Louisiana state archivist, was introduced as guest speaker. He stated that Louisiana’s archives, truly the state’s “jewelry box”, contains artifacts, documents, and art objects which are irreplaceable. Dr. Hardy’s background experience as a history teacher prepared him for the important position which he holds today.
He stated that while spending two years in the Dupre Library at USL (now UL of L), in Lafayette, researching Louisiana history, he decided that his life’s work would be in the field of history.
Dr. Hardy complimented Fox McKeithen, Louisiana’s Secretary of State, who is the State Archivist’s immediate superior. Dr. Hardy stated that Mr. McKeithen gives the archivist the flexibility to improve and to make the state archive records available to the people. He then presented an overview of the departments within the archives, listing: administration, acquisitions and processing, art gallery, auditorium, conservation laboratory, microfilm department, records center, records management, research library, and vital records.
With regard to safekeeping of records, Dr. Hardy stated that his department provides a vital service for other state agencies by transferring documents to microfilm. By duplicating the information on microfilm, with a copy for the contributing agency and a copy retained for the archives, the original then is stored in a climate controlled area.
The microfilm copy is made available for public use, and the archives provides safe storage for the original document, which can be viewed by appointment, under certain guidelines.
Some state agency records are of value for a limited time, and temporary deposit is provided in the records center for a period of ten to twelve years, after which they are shredded. The shredded paper is sold by the archives, providing much needed funds for upgrading the department.
St. John the Baptist colonial records are a recent addition to the archives. Those records, will now be made available to the public, which is good news for our local genealogists who trace their roots to St. John the Baptist parish.
Dr. Hardy spoke about the diversity of visitors to the archives, adding that they come from all over the world. He suggested that when an individual requests information over the internet, his department will promptly acknowledge that request. However, due to the volume of messages received by his personnel, the research information will be provided in order of request made. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and the web site is www.sec.state.la.us. Mailing address is Louisiana State Archives, 3851 Essen Lane, P. O. Box 94125, Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9125. Telephone (225)922-1206. Dr. Hardy encouraged historical and genealogical societies to tour the Louisiana State Archives.
He added that his department welcomes help from volunteers.
Miss Perrault introduced Charles Guilbeau, president of the St. Pierre Genealogical Society, and Janice Martin, secretary-treasurer, and thanked them for attending.
It was announced that Jim Higginbotham, who writes grant applications for the City of Opelousas, recently met with Senator Donald Cravins to discuss a request for a grant of $100,000 from the state. Under consideration is the development of a heritage center which would be located near Le Vieux Village. Miss Perrault said that she and other historical society members approached Sandra Decoteau, with the idea of including this project with the Atchafalaya Basin Gateway Project. They were told to see that it is included with the master plan proposal. Mr. Higginbotham has drafted a letter to the Le Vieux Village committee, asking that Miss Perrault be placed on the agenda to address the committee at its next meeting.
Society members were asked to make a list of research materials not available in the Opelousas Public Library. This should include books which individuals have found useful and available from other sources.
The next society meeting will be held at Opelousas General Hospital on Saturday, September 8, 2001, and will be “show and tell”. Members are asked to bring family heirlooms, artifacts, and items of interest with a story to tell. They will be invited to share their stories with the membership.
Meeting adjourned at 12:05 P.M.
Sylvia David Morel