How To Research Your French & Belgian Ancestors

How To Research Your French & Belgian Ancestors

Where to Find France’s & Belgium’s Military Records

Early French military enlistment records of the “Ancien Regime” (pre-revolution) can be exasperating and confusing for those of us who only know English. Do we understand the different regiments and their functions? Do we understand...

Navigating The Early Census of Hainaut, Belgium

This is a quick tutorial on how to navigate through the early online censuses of province of Hainaut, Wallonia Belgium found at the FamilySearch website We are going to use the city of Mons as...

French Genealogy Online Databases and Resources

In 1998, French Genealogy Databases and resources, if any, were in it’s infancy. Obtaining French records was a hard road to take. You had to write to French and Belgian governments in towns, cities and...

Explore The Online France Department Archives

We cried “Where can we find French birth, baptism, marriage, death, military and census records?” And then it was so. The departmental archives of continental France went online and it’s free. A French Genealogy miracle...

How to Research Your French & Belgian Ancestors

lighting the way

Researching and finding your French and Walloon (French Belgium) ancestors can be an overwhelming feat, especially if you 1) don’t know the language, 2) live in an another country or continent, 3) don’t know the town they’re from (and you need to know it to proceed) 4) finding records and help online 5) deciphering sloppy handwritten old records, 6) brick walls, but once you overcome those hurdles, your genealogical research with pay off.

Over twenty years ago, I started my journey researching my French ancestry, and a painstaking and frustrating journey it was. Brick wall, after brick wall. Ancestors who didn’t write anything down (later I found most couldn’t read or write), didn’t pass on family history, never spoke about the ‘old country’ or relatives. I became so frustrated, I wanted to dig them all up, well, at least the ones I knew about, and shake them! Uuugh. By the time I was 20, every French relative known and unknown had died. My dad passed away in 1999, taking whatever he knew to the grave.


At that time, was a fledgling company, RootsWeb was flourishing, Geneanet was barely launched and French Department archives were not online. My 1 year high school French was about as dead as my ancestors. I searched and ordered every kind of record and information I could find on the ones I knew about; grandmother, great-grandparents, in the USA; death, probate, marriage, birth, ships lists, schools, newspaper clippings hoping I would find the towns in France. Each piece took me a step further to finding them. It wasn’t until I came across a naturalization record in the US, and a death record in Québec, that I finally got the big break.

Genealogy Online

Today, French departmental records are available and accessible online for free, plus numerous free resources and databases. My website and tutorials will help train you to research, find, read, and gather the important genealogical information from parish, civil, military enlistments, and census records, and how to network through French Gen sites, in the hope it will help you succeed in researching and then finding your French and Belgian Ancestors, and guiding you how to understand and extract the genealogical information

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