France has had many ethnic and religious minorities, including Germans, Swiss, Italians, Protestants, Jews, Gypsies, and Mennonites. It's important to learn the history of the ethnic, racial, and religious groups your ancestors belonged to. For example, you might study a history of the Protestants in France, Jews in Alsace, or Mennonites in Alsace-Lorraine and Montbéliard. This historical background can help you identify where your ancestors lived and when they lived there, where they migrated, the types of records where they might be listed, and other information to help you understand your family's history.
For most minorities in France there are some unique records and resources available. These include histories, inventories, biographical sources, settlement patterns, handbooks, and genealogical societies.
The Family History Library collects records of these groups, especially published histories. These are listed in the Family History Library Catalog, Place search, under:
FRANCE - MINORITIES
FRANCE, [DEPARTMENT] - MINORITIES
FRANCE, [PROVINCE] (REGION) - MINORITIES
FRANCE - JEWISH HISTORY
Other sources are also in the Subject section of the Family History Library Catalog under the name of the minority, such as HUGUENOTS, JEWS, GERMANS, or MENNONITES. Some sources are listed under [MINORITY] - FRANCE. Examples of these books are:
- Mathiot, Charles. Recherches historiques sur les Anabaptistes de l'ancienne principauté de Montbéliard, d'Alsace, et des régions voisines (Historical research regarding the Anabaptists [Mennonites] of Montbéliard, Alsace, and nearby regions). Belfort, France: Mission Intérieure luthérienne de Montbéliard, 1922. (FHL film 1,071,437 item 2.)
- Scheid, Elie. Histoire des Juifs d'Alsace (History of the Jews of Alsace). Paris, France: Librairie Armand Durlacher, 1887. Reprint. Strasbourg: Willy Fischer, 1975. (FHL book 944.383 F2; film 1,184,064 item 5.)
The Family History Library also has many books about French people in other nations or states. These are listed in the Place search of the Family History Library Catalog under [NATION OR STATE] - MINORITIES and in the Subject search under FRENCH - [NATION OR STATE]. Additional examples of Subject search headings about French people in foreign lands include:
CAJUNS - LOUISIANA
CREOLES - MISSOURI
FRENCH-CANADIANS - MAINE
HUGUENOTS - GERMANY
In nations to which members of French ethnic or religious groups went, various local and national societies have been organized to gather, preserve, and share the cultural contributions and histories of their groups. Some examples are the various French-Canadian and Huguenot communities in North America. See the "Societies" section.