Louisiana Division/City Archives
New Orleans Public Library

Sources for Researching the History of Your House (Or Other Building) in New Orleans

Plan Books

Plan books were kept by various municipal offices responsible for keeping track of property within the city. Some offices were interested in the subdivision of properties, while others were interested in the improvements on lots. The usefulness of these plan books to researchers varies depending on the original purpose of the volumes.

New Orleans (La.) Second Municipality Surveyor's Office. Plan books, 1852 (6 vols.)
Oversized volumes, one for each of the seven wards (the book for the sixth ward is missing). At the front of each volume is an index map of the ward with a key referring the user to the proper sheet for each square of land within the ward (the volume for ward one also have a two-page map of the entire municipality). Each sheet contains a plat of an individual square, showing lot subdivisions, with measurements and names of property owners indicated. In addition to the names of property owners, in many cases a date of last act of sale for the lot, sometimes with the sale price, is also recorded. Few, if any, structures are indicated.
(KG620 1852 mf)

New Orleans (La.) Surveyor's Office. Plan Books, 1874-1881 (5 vols.)
Volumes are available for all but the fifth and seventh municipal districts. Volumes for the third and fourth districts contain color-coded scale drawings of existing buildings, each drawing indicating the material used in construction, the type of roof, and the street address of each structure. The remaining books do not provide information on individual buildings, but are limited to showing lot subdivisions within each square. Some non-residential uses are indentified and sketches of residences are occasionally penciled in.
(KG620 1874-1881 mf)

City of Lafayette (La.) Surveyor's Office. Plan Book, 1851 (1 vol.)
Shows only lot subdivisions and real estate sales for the squares closest to the river.
(II KG620 1851)

City of Lafayette (La.) Surveyor's Office. Plan Books, 1850 - 1869 (2 vols.)
They show individual lots and their measurements and have transfers recorded on the adjoining pages. A considerable number of structures also have plan views drawn in to scale and are captioned with brief descriptions, such as "two-story brick dwelling.
(II KG620 1850-1968 mf)

City of Lafayette (La.) Surveyor's Office. Plan Books, n.d. (7 vols.)
Undated volumes, arranged by ward (with a 7th volume of "miscellaneous" plans), recording individual property owners and transfers during the 1860's.
(II KG620 n.d. mf)

Jefferson City (La.) Surveyor's Office. Plan Books, 1834-1868 (3 vols.)
These three volumes for Jefferson City (now the sixth municipal district) show only the subdivision of squares with neither owners or houses indicated.
(III KG620 1834-1868)

City of Carrollton (La.) Surveyor's Office. Plan Books, 1833-1873 (2 vols.)
These two volumes, for the old City of Carrollton (presently the seventh municipal district) indicate the subdivision of squares with a record of property transactions included on adjacent pages. No buildings are shown.
(IV KJ620 1833-1873)

New Orleans (La.) City Auctioneer. Plan Books for the First Municipal District, 1860-1869 (7 vols.)
On March 26, 1860, the Council (by Ordinance #5044) authorized the Surveyor to draw up plans showing all unoccupied land owned by the city that was not set apart for public use. The law further authorized the Auctioneer, under the supervision of the Finance Committee of the Council, to sell those properties. The plan books for the First Municipal District are all that have survived in the archives. They were apparently made by the Surveyor and used by the Auctioneer in selling the subject properties.

Each map shows one square, giving lot subdivisions and measurements, names of owners of individual lots, value of the property, and, sometimes, names of purchasers, purchase price, and date of sale. Volume two includes an index map indicating the squares included in the volume. The square numbers assigned do not appear to correspond to square numbers now in use. In previous cataloging, the volumes were all dated 1860-1862; however, they appear to have continued in use through 1869.
(AX 620 1860-1869 mf)

A more detailed finding aid for these records is available HERE

New Orleans (La.) Board of Commissioners for the Third Drainage District. Plan Book, 1872
For that portion of the third district bounded by the Ursuline Convent (the present Industrial Canal), the river, Claiborne, and the St. Bernard Parish line (portions of the Lower 9th Ward), this book records the drainage tax, showing subdivision of squares and the individual property owners.
(LKM610 1872)

New Orleans Draining Company. Plan book of the Second Section, 1852
Prepared by civil engineer/surveyor Theodore Gillespie, the volume includes copies of plans of individual squares in the section, showing lot subdivisions and names of lot owners, along with accompanying charts showing lot dimensions and valuations. Pasted into the back of the plan book are a copy of the 1835 DePouilly plan of Faubourg Jackson, an undated plan of the cemeteries at Canal Street and present-day City Park Avenue, and a plan (also by Gillespie) of property along Bayou St. John east of Faubourg Jackson.
(MS-O18 [mf filed under call number LN33])

A finding aid for the New Orleans Draining Co. records is available HERE


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