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The term genealogy is used in this article and in the FamilySearch Catalog to describe a variety of records containing family information gathered by individuals, other researchers, societies, or archives. These records may include pedigree charts, compiled information on families, correspondence, ancestor lists, research exchange files, record abstracts, and collections of original or copied documents. These can be excellent sources of information that can save you valuable time. Because they are compiled from other sources of information, they must be carefully evaluated for accuracy.
Additional sources of genealogy for noble families in France are described in the "Nobility" section.
You may find the French Research tutorial class on FamilySearch helpful in getting started in your research.
Major Collections and Databases
Several large databases contain previous research or can lead you to others who are interested in sharing family information. These sources include:
International Genealogical Index. The index provides names and vital information for over 3.4 million deceased persons who lived in France. This valuable research tool lists birth, christening, or marriage dates. The index for France includes names extracted from parish registers by volunteers and names submitted by other researchers.
The International Genealogical Index is available on microfiche and on compact disc as part of FamilySearch™. If you are using the microfiche, search under FRANCE. If you are using the compact disc edition, however, you will have to search for France under CONTINENTAL EUROPE. The 1992 International Genealogical Index contains about 187 million names, including almost 3 million French names. For more information on FamilySearch, see the "FamilySearch" section.
Ancestral File. This file, part of FamilySearch™, contains family history information linked in family groups and pedigrees that has been contributed since 1979. As of 1993, the file contains the names of 15 million people, including thousands of French families. On Ancestral File you can print pedigree charts, family group records, and individual summary sheets for any person in the file.
Family Group Records Collection. More than eight million family group record forms have been microfilmed in the Family Group Records Collection. This collection includes many French families. There are two major sections: the Archive Section and the Patron Section. The film numbers for both sections are listed in the Author/Title section of the FamilySearch Catalog under family group records collection.
Minitel. This French commercial computer network is available in the United States and includes French telephone directories, a computer mail box, genealogical society addresses, marriage indexes, and research advice. See the "Archives and Libraries" section for details.
Nordbib. An organization called the Genealogical and Historical Sources of the Provinces of Nord [Sources généalogiques et historiques des provinces du nord] has created a computer database of genealogical and historical sources for the area of northern France and southern Belgium. Researchers can search Nordbib for surnames and receive bibliographic citations from over 4,000 sources. To search Nordbib contact:
Union Régionale des Associations Généalogiques du Nordet du Pas-de-Calais
133 rue de Silly
Géopatronyme. The Public Library of Information in Paris has a computer database that lists the modern surnames of France. Researchers enter a surname into the computer and each department with ten or more persons with that surname will be shown on a map of France. The number of names in that department will also be shown. The names are apparently from telephone directories. This helps researchers locate the most likely departments to search for uncommon surnames.
Some French families have produced histories or newsletters that may include genealogical information, biographies, photographs, and other excellent information. These usually include several generations of the family.
The Family History Library has only a limited number of published French family histories and newsletters. These are listed in the Surname section of the FamilySearch Catalog. Not every name found in a family history will be listed in the catalog; only the major surnames discussed in the family history are included.
Unpublished family histories are sometimes found in the possession of private individuals in France. These persons may have collected a variety of records about their own families. But such materials are accessible only by contacting the appropriate individual. Local genealogical societies can often help locate such collections.
Many French family histories are indexed in:
- Arnaud, Étienne. Répertoire de généalogies françaises imprimées (French genealogical bibliography). Three Volumes. Paris, France: Berger-Levrault, 1978-1982. (Family History Library book 944 D23a; book has been digitized.) This book indexes many periodical articles and published genealogies. Each listing cites a home area in France. The source reference is shown in an abbreviated form. Each source has to be looked up at the beginning of the volume in the list of abbreviations [Liste des sigles]. The reference number given after the name of the author and the name of the source is the call number at the National Library. The Family History Library has a few of the sources found in the Author/Title section of the FamilySearch Catalog.
- Smart, Geoffrey. A French Emigre Ancestor. Therese Elisabet Vintrignier was born in Paris, and emigrated to Northampton, England with an aunt and uncle Mr. and Madame Pelissier. She married a Mr. Wiggerham and they had 4 sons and 4 daughters. Article covers 1768-1887, and is found in Sussex Family Historian vol. # 7. Dec.1974, pages 200-201. Family History Library Ref. 942.25 B2su
Family Civil Registration Booklets
After 1877 the civil registrar gave a booklet [livret de famille] to each couple whose marriage he performed. For details, see the "Civil Registration" section.
The Family History Library has some collections of genealogical material for French families. These may include published and unpublished collections of family histories and lineages, as well as the research files of prominent, recognized genealogists.
A major genealogical collection is:
- Andriveau, B. (Bernard). Archives privées (Private collection). Salt Lake City, Utah, USA: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1966-1967. (Family History Library film 1147628; 147978; 1296501; 297226.)
This is a manuscript card index of parish registers (1700-1891) of twenty-five large French and Belgian cities on 1068 rolls of microfilm. The films circulate only to family history centers outside Europe. The collection contains mostly marriages. It usually gives the name of the bride or groom, birthplace, birth date, spouse, and parents. The sections for Paris also include indexes of baptisms, deaths, and marriage contracts.
Some of the information for Paris may have been extracted from the original records before the fire that destroyed most of the pre-1860 Paris records. This collection can be used to help locate the general area of a surname in France.
Each city has its own separate index. Paris baptisms, marriages, and deaths are listed at the beginning of the FamilySearch Catalog entry. Paris marriage contracts are listed at the end.
Genealogical collections are listed in the Place search of the FamilySearch Catalog under—
FRANCE - GENEALOGY
FRANCE - [DEPARTMENT] - GENEALOGY
FRANCE - [PROVINCE] (REGION) - GENEALOGY
If you find your surname in any of the sources described in this section, determine whether the entry actually pertains to your family. All people with the same surname are not necessarily related. Often, you will have to do some original research before you can connect your ancestry to families listed in these sources. Many of the films are out of focus.
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