Heloise Hulse Cruzat helped preserve the history of Louisiana by translating numerous colonial documents in the collections of the Louisiana State Museum.
In the 1910s and 1920s, amateur historian Heloise Hulse Cruzat translated and transcribed a number of French and Spanish Colonial documents from her husband’s personal collection and from the Louisiana State Museum's archival holdings in order to facilitate their use for the interested public.¹ Several examples of her work were published in the Louisiana Hisorical Society's quarterly journal, the Louisiana Historical Quarterly, and covered such varied topics as municipal ordinances, marriage contracts, oaths of allegiance, criminal court cases, and wills; one such document was the first succession opened in Louisiana in 1717.² In 1917, author Grace King wrote that Cruzat’s “essays on Louisiana history and her translations from old Spanish and French documents place her in the first rank of present day historical writers.”³
Cruzat was born in 1862 to a prominent Louisiana family, and, in 1883, she married John William Cruzat, a bank official by trade and, according to King, “a secret, ardent student of history [and] a passionate collector of documents and facts.”4 Both husband and wife were active members of the Louisiana Historical Society, serving respectively as treasurer and corresponding secretary for many years.5 Over the course of his life, Cruzat’s husband acquired an extensive collection of Louisiana-related historical documents, several of which Cruzat translated for the Louisiana Historical Quarterly following his death.6 Today, her work is available in digitized volumes of the journal via archive.org and on the Louisiana Historical Society’s website (membership required), and hard copies can be found at Tulane University’s Louisiana Research Collection. Many of the original documents that Cruzat translated are available to researchers on microfilm at the Louisiana State Museum’s Louisiana Historical Center at the US Mint, where the museum’s archival holdings have been housed since the 1980s.7
1. Stanley C. Arthur, Old Families of Louisiana (New Orleans: Harmanson, 1931; Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing Company, 1998), 328-29. Citation is to the Pelican edition.
2. The Louisiana Historical Quarterly 3 (January–October 1920): passim; and The Louisiana Historical Quarterly 4 (January–October 1921): passim.
3. Grace King, Creole Families of New Orleans (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1921; Baton Rouge, LA: Claitor’s Publishing Division, 1971), 336. Citation is to the Claitor’s edition.
4. King, Creole Families of New Orleans, 334.
5. King, 334-36.
7. Henry Putney Beers, French and Spanish Records of Louisiana: A Bibliographical Guide to Archive and Manuscript Sources (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989),14.
Suggestions for Additional Reading and Research
Cruzat Family Papers, 1686–1961. Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University.
Louisiana Historical Society Records, 1877–1997. Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University.
Owen, Kenneth E. Cumulative Index to the Louisiana Historical Quarterly: Volumes XXXIV to LV. New Orleans: Louisiana Historical Society, 1974.
Ruff, Verda Jenkins. The Cabildo Records of New Orleans, 1769–1785: An Index to Abstracts in the Louisiana Historical Quarterly. 2nd ed. Ville Platte, LA: Provincial Press, 1997.