Haut-Rhin, France Genealogy

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EuropeGotoarrow.pngFrance Gotoarrow.png Alsace Gotoarrow.png Haut-Rhin

Guide to Haut-Rhin, France ancestry, family history, and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and military records.


History

Haut-Rhin (Alsatian: Owerelsàss) is a département of the Alsace region France, named after the Rhein river. Its name means Upper Rhein. Haut-Rhin is the smaller and less populated of the two departements of Alsace, although is still densely populated compared to the rest of France.

Haut-Rhin is one of the original 83 départements, created during the French Revolution, on March 4, 1790 by application of the law of December 22, 1789 on the southern half of the province of Alsace (Haute-Alsace).

Boundary Changes

Haut-Rhin's boundaries have been modified many times:

  • 1798, it absorbed Mulhouse, formerly a free city, and the last Swiss enclave in the south;
  • 1800, it absorbed the whole département of Mont-Terrible;
  • 1814, it lost the territories which had been part of Mont-Terrible, returned to Switzerland, except the old principality of Montbéliard;
  • 1816, it lost Montbéliard, which was attached to the département of Doubs;
  • 1871, it was mostly annexed by Germany (Treaty of Frankfurt). The remaining French part formed the Territoire de Belfort;
  • 1919, it was reverted to France (Treaty of Versailles) but is still separated from Belfort.
  • 1940, it was effectively annexed by Nazi Germany.
  • 1944, it was captured by France.

Communes


Online Church Records and Civil Registration

The vast majority of your research will be in church records and civil registration. Fortunately, these records are available online from the archives of each department.

Finding Church Records and Civil Registration Online

Each Department of France has archives that provide digitized images of these records.
Here is the website for the Department Archives of Haut-Rhin, where you will find these records.

Department Archives of Haut-Rhin
Currently, only civil registration is available online.

  • Registres paroissiaux (parish registers)
  • Registres d'état civil (civil registration)
  • Censuses (Recensements)

See Using France Online Department Archives for step by step instructions on finding and reading these records.

Search Strategy

  • Search for the relative or ancestor you selected. When you find his birth record, search for the births of his brothers and sisters.
  • Next, search for the marriage of his parents. The marriage record will have information that will often help you find the birth records of the parents.
  • You can estimate the ages of the parents and determine a birth year to search for their birth records.
  • Search the death registers for all known family members.
  • Repeat this process for both the father and the mother, starting with their birth records, then their siblings' births, then their parents' marriages, and so on.
  • If earlier generations (parents, grandparents, etc.) do not appear in the records, search neighboring parishes.


How to Read the Records

Learning to Read Enough French to Do Genealogy

  • It's easier than you think! You do not have to be fluent in French to use these records, as there is only a limited vocabulary used in them. By learning a few key phrases, you will be able to read them adequately. Here are some resources for learning to read French records.
French Genealogical Word List
French Handwriting.
  • There is a three-lesson course in reading French Records:
Reading French Handwritten Records Lesson 1: The French Alphabet,
Reading French Handwritten Records Lesson 2: Key Words and Phrases
Reading French Handwritten Records Lesson 3: Reading French Records

Family History Centers

Websites