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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Research: French Canadian Ancestors  by Louise St Denis. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

Family History Centers

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has established the most important genealogical library system in the world to assist its members, and others, to identify their ancestors. Since the 1930s they have been microfilming national and local civil and religious records all over the world. The master copies of these films are protected from the elements and natural disasters in deep vaults carved out of the granite mountains near Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Family History Library in Salt Lake City houses the collection of films, fiches, papers and books and is open to the public. In addition, a network of over 4,500 branches, called Family History Centers (FHCs) operates worldwide.

Their collection for French-Canadian research, although not as complete as many genealogical libraries specializing in French-Canadian ancestors, is growing. Check the following resources:

  • International Genealogical Index (IGI)
  • ‘Fichier’ Loiselle Card Index on microfilm
  • ‘Fichier’ Rivest Card Index on microfilm
  • microfiche catalogue for a list of sources
  • FamilySearch Catalog (formerly the Family History Library Catalog) Place search for a list of all available sources of interest to French-Canadian and Acadian researchers
  • microfilms of many Catholic and non-Catholic church records from 1621 to 1900
  • Census records on microfilms
  • Immigration records on microfilm for Québec City from May 1865 to April 1900 and Halifax from 1881 to December 1899

For Acadian research, a good starting point may be Québec, but don’t leave out Nova Scotia and New Brunswick records.

Basic Sources

As with any genealogical research project, many sources are used to find the needed information. Naturally following a certain order makes the researching easier. This is the order we would recommend for your research project:

  • Genealogical Dictionaries and Index Aids including marriage registers (répertoires de mariages)
  • Church Records
  • Census Records
  • Notarial Records
  • Newspapers, Periodicals
  • Historical and Miscellaneous Books

In most cases you should be able to find the factual information required to climb your family tree by simply using genealogical dictionaries and parish registers. Add to the historical value of your genealogical project by using the variety of other records available.

Summary of Research Tools

There are so many tools one can use to find the factual information needed when researching your French-Canadian ancestors. Naturally some are easier and better than others. Below is a partial list of the tools available to you. Unfortunately, not all libraries are as well stocked as others, but this list does provide a variety of resource materials for your research from 1608 to the present.

Research tools for the period from 1608 to 1765

  • Dictionaire Tanguay
  • Dictionaire Drouin
  • Dictionaire Jetté
  • Répertoire de Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH)
  •  Répertoire de mariages
  • For Acadian Research
  • Dictionaire Arsenault
  • Le Grand Arrangement des Acadiens au Québec
  • Fonds Placide Gaudet on microfilm
  • Family Dictionaries
  • Regional Dictionaries

Research tools the period from 1765 to the present

  • Dictionaire Drouin
  • Index consolidé des mariages du Québec
  • Index consolidé des décès du Québec
  • Répertoire de mariages
  • Fichier Loiselle
  • Fichier Pontbriand
  • Fichier Houle
  • Fichier Rivest
  • Fichier Histor
  • For non-Catholics
    Index des baptêmes, mariages et sépultures pour les registres protestants de la région de Québec 1790-1875
    Index des baptêmes, mariages et sépultures pour les registres, protestants de Montréal et des environs 1760-1899
  • Family Dictionaries
  • Regional Dictionaries


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Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online courses Research: French Canadian Ancestors offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about these courses or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at wiki@genealogicalstudies.com

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.

  • This page was last modified on 24 November 2014, at 16:57.
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