The documents tell of shipwrecks and pirates, of thieves and murderers, of gambling debts and slave sales, of real estate deals and wills. One finds pages signed by historical figures like Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, better known as Bienville, the founder of New Orleans, and Louis XVI, the king of France. And the bizarre, as in the case of a man accused of selling dog meat to Charity Hospital.
The documents survived heat and humidity, the turmoil of the Civil War and repeated hurricanes. During the Civil War, the records were scattered and looted by Confederate and Union soldiers. After the war, historians recovered what they could and packed it away in wooden boxes at Tulane University.
Following the destructive Hurricane Katrina, the state museum received about $196,000 from several foundations to begin digitally preserving the old archives. The state historians are seeking about $1.5 million more to hire additional staff and equipment to complete the digitization project more quickly.
You can read the full story in an Associated Press story by Cain Burdeau at http://goo.gl/3qnxa.