A missing piece of Lake Charles history has come home. A copy of the first Directory of the City of Lake Charles, published in 1895, has recently been added to the genealogical collection of the Calcasieu Parish Public Library.
With the help of John Sellers, a genealogical speaker who visited our library in 2005, our former director, Michael Sawyer, who had contacts with the California State Library, and the assistance of Martha Whittaker, Senior Librarian of Sutro Library of San Francisco, and BMI Imaging, the one firm approved to take items off-site for reproduction to microfilm and CD-ROM copies, Calcasieu Parish has this rare gem. A photocopy version is available at the SWLA Genealogical & Historical Library, 411 Pujo Street. A microfilm copy is also available.
In 1910 a Great Fire destroyed most of the historical documents and records of Lake Charles and Calcasieu Parish that were housed in the city and parish courthouses and the Catholic Church. This loss affected what are now the parishes of Calcasieu, Allen, Beauregard and Jefferson Davis since Lake Charles was then the seat of Imperial Calcasieu Parish. Other historical records have been lost over the years through other disasters and the benign neglect of families.
The Calcasieu Parish Public Library is fortunate to be the recipient of thirteen volumes of scrapbooks compiled by Maude Reid over a span of more than 50 years. Maude Reid was born in Lake Charles on October 31, 1882 to David John, Jr and May (Helm) Reid. As the granddaughter of the early Imperial Calcasieu pioneer and lawman, David John Reid, Maude Reid was acquainted from childhood with other pioneer families and grew up during the period when many first or second generation pioneers were alive. She heard first- and second-hand stories of the early days of Imperial Calcasieu Parish. During her travels as a public health nurse she visited outlying communities in Imperial Calcasieu and established friendships with pioneers in those areas as well.
As a friend she was entrusted not only with stories, she was also given original photographs, letters, other memorabilia and artifacts, and was allowed to copy original official records. At some point she began compiling scrapbooks and gave meticulous attention to their structure. Many are devoted to a specific topic of history. As an amateur historian she was meticulous in her transcriptions, citations and documentation. During the Depression she was appointed to submit articles to be included in the WPA Guide to Louisiana.
In 1973 she donated eleven volumes of her scrapbooks to the Lake Charles Public Library. As early as 1970 the library already had a copy of the scrapbook she compiled as “an endeavor to be a memorial covering the activities of our town during the Global War from the first registration, the war maneuvers and through the second World War, 1940 – 53.” (Lake Charles American Press, page 24, 12/09/1970). In an article about her in April 1978 a librarian was quoted, “It is not just a history of Lake Charles . . . It is the only history of Lake Charles.” (LCAP, p. 35,
In the 1980s members of the Southwest Louisiana Genealogical Society indexed the scrapbooks on card catalog cards. For many years this was the only method available for researching specific information from the scrapbooks. Staff members and volunteers of the Southwest Louisiana Genealogical and Historical Library entered the data from these cards into an in-house database, and are pleased that the Calcasieu Parish Public Library is making this resource available on online.
Microfilmed copies of the scrapbooks are available for viewing at the Southwest Louisiana Genealogical and Historical Library in the Carnegie Memorial Library Building at 411 Pujo Street in Lake Charles. The original scrapbooks are currently housed in the McNeese University Archives on contractual loan.
The microfilm collection can be found in the online library catalog.
- Basic Search: Enter Microfilm in the third text box then click the Search button.
- Ex searches
- Enter microfilm sulphur. 2 newspapers display, The Sulphur Southwest Builder and Calcasieu Progress.
- Enter microfilm genealogy in the search section.
- Ex searches
- Advanced Search: under format select Microform and under library select SWLA Genealogical Library then click Advanced Search.
In 2008 the Calcasieu Parish Public Library became an authorized affiliate of the Genealogical Society of Utah research and library system (“FamilySearch”) and is designated as a “FamilySearch Center.” The designation allows the Southwest Louisiana Genealogical and Historical Library access to records from the Family Search collection by means of inter-library loan.
NOTE: Changes have been made recently by FamilySearch and public library affiliates are no longer allowed to order microfilm for patrons. Instead, patrons must order and pay online, and request that the microfilm be sent to the Calcasieu Parish Public Library.
The library will receive, store, and return the microfilm once the patron has viewed the microfilm in the library.
Instructions for registering and ordering can be found by clicking on Help on the top right corner of the website:
- In the box under Ask a Question: enter the exact words “Order a microfilm or microfiche using the Online Film Ordering website,” and hit Enter.
- The first entry should have that exact wording and is Document ID: 112358.
- That document will explain how to register and sign in, find the microfilm you want in the Family History Library catalog, and how to order and pay.
- The microfilm will be sent to our library and you will be notified when it is received.
For assistance, contact Brandon Shoumaker, Manager for the Southwest Louisiana Genealogical & Historical Library at 337-721-7110.
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