• From Here to France

    I think the most frustrating factor of French Genealogy is tracing your Ancestor back to France with nothing to go on. I know how it feels. No parent’s names, no places, nothing but the ‘they were born in France or Belgium’. Here is a path you can take to find information that might lead you to the town or department your ancestor came from Start here in the state or province your ancestor lived and died in. I know that sounds like ‘duh’ but it is the starting point. Most likely, your French ancestors were Catholic, so start with the church records in the town they lived in. Usually, the…

  • French Municipal Archives

    Saved at Last What are these? Simply put, they’re the vital records stored in the archives of the town or city instead of archived at the French Department. What makes them important is if you come across towns that are not available through the Departmental archives of France there’s still hope in finding what you need through the communal archives. Let’s take the large city of Nantes located in the department of Loire-Atlantique for example. There are no vital records listed with the department but they are found with the municipal archives of Nantes. Francegenweb.org has made french genealogy much more easier for us by providing links to all the…

  • Death by Guillotine! The French Revolution!

    Oh, that dreadful and horrible time! I shudder to think of the depravity the people of France had sunk to during the Reign of Terror. It has been estimated that nearly 17,000 were executed by the guillotine, while others were hanged and other nasty atrocities dealt out to ‘enemies of state’. How grisly!  I’ve always wondered if any of my ancestors were involved as victims or as perpetrators. Have you? I came across this web page and gingerly went through the names list to see any surnames. Are there any of yours?

  • Records Written in Latin

    Q: What’s worse than sloppy written records in French? A: Sloppy written records in Latin! In the old European world, the Catholic Church and parishes were the registry for all vital records; baptism, marriage and burial, until the French Revolution that is. Parish Priests were well versed in Latin, and certain parts of France and in Wallonia, records were written by them in either in Latin or French. In French Canada, older records are also written in Latin. Not only indicator words; date, type of record, relationships, and even the names of countries and towns. So what to do? Here are a few things: Download this Latin translation list from…

  • Quebec, Catholic Parish Registers, 1621-1979 -Online

    Exciting news for those looking for French Canadian ancestors! Family Search.org has uploaded Québec Church records to their server! Not all years for certain parish’s are uploaded, and at this time, they’re only partially indexed. So it is limited in search, but the records are browseable. Quebec, Catholic Parish Registers and Quebec, Births and Baptisms, 1662-1898 All Free!

  • Searching Through Belgian Vital Records -Goodies Alert

    If you’re searching through the vital records of Belgium at FamilySearch.org you’ve no doubt run into pages upon pages upon pages of documents that seemingly have no rhyme or reason as if someone took a bunch of miscellaneous documents and shoved them in between the marriage records. What a mess. What are they? Why are they there? Are they worth the tedious effort to go through them? The answer is; yes. They can be a gold mine of info. The documents are annexes and extracts attached to marriage records; birth, death and additional co pertaining to the married couple AND their parents, and possibly grandparents but also documents on military…

  • What Are “dit” names?

    In your research, you may have come across individuals with seemingly two surnames with ‘dit’ in between them. Quoting from Denis Beauregard’s article from Francogene.com “A “dit name” is an alias given to a family name. Compared to other alias or a.k.a. that are given to one specific person, the dit names will be given to many persons. It seems the usage exists almost only in France, New France and in Scotland where we find clans or septs.” Example: Pierre Verger dit Bertaut. IN this case, Bertaut is the ‘also know as’ name, but in other cases it might be something different. Why are there ‘dit’ names? Which name do…

  • Let’s Talk French Genealogy

    Researching French ancestry can be very difficult and frustrating. The language and geographical barriers, finding the exact towns your ancestors were from (and you need to know them too), learning to read very difficult and sloppy handwriting, how and where to turn to for help and the time and patience to pursue your goals. Yet you can do it. I did. When I started out, I didn’t know French and knew absolutely nothing besides the countries they came from. Today, I’m almost at the end of all my research, a bittersweet realization. It’s been very rewarding. And it can be for you too. I thought it would be a good…