How to Research Your French & Belgian Ancesters
Making  French  Genealogy  Easier

Tutorial 4 -Examining French Birth Records

In this tutorial, you will need your computer, notebook, pencil, and magnifying glass. You’ll understand why naissance (birth) records are different from baptism (baptême) ones. Examine samples of wording, phrasing, from several You will be introduced to and get acquainted with “dit/dite’ names. The birth flash list will be referred to. If you don’t have Microsoft Office, you can download this free fully functional Office program at WPS

In 1793, the French Revolution swept in and swept away the Catholic Church’s authority of recording documents, and installed the secular civil system as the official one. The French Revolution also introduced the confusing French Republican Calender. For more information refer back to my dates page. An easy to use calender converter is located here. Thankfully, that French Republican calender didn’t last too long, dissolving in 1805.

There’s not much difference between civil birth and church baptism ones besides possibly better handwriting. Data in civil records varies as well. Information such as, father and mother’s occupation, place of birth for each or residence, age of parents, names of other witnesses, their ages, occupations and relationship to the baby might all be included.

French Belgian Records

As with France, Belgium went from Catholic Church records to Civil ones in 1793. Post 1810, data would be entered into a certificate, which will have areas to include date of recording, official person, town in which acte is being recorded, province, name of person who appears before the official to record the baby’s birth -usually the father (though other family members have done so), age of father, his occupation, place of residence, possible place of birth, mother’s name, her age, occupation, place of residence, possible place of birth, actual date of birth for baby, *sex and name of child, and names, ages of witnesses.

Unfortunately, this document contains 2 recorded errors that indicate the sex of the child. You can see that the name of the child is “Marie Zoé Philomène, and the document says the sex of the baby is feminin (girl) but the indicators of sex that are underlined in red, are masculine. Né (born) is masculine, it should be the feminin ‘Nee”. The masculine “un” should be the feminin “une”

Beatrix, Luxembourg, Belgium

Acte de naissance

L’an mil neuf cent un, le sept du mois de fervier

The year 1901, the 7th of the month of February

de la commune de Beatrix

of the town of Beatrix

est comparu Pierre Eugene GASPAR

(comes before the bourgmestre)

âge de vingt-huit ans, cultivateur, domicile à Bertrix

age of 28 years, farmer, living in/at Bertrix

présenté un* enfant du sexe feminin, * à Bertrix –

Presents an infant of the sex feminine, born at/in Bertrix

le cinq du present mois de fervier

the 5th of the present month of February

et de son epouse

and of his spouse

Marie Philomène Parizel âgée de vingt-neuf ans, sans profession, domicile à Bertrix

Marie Philomène Parizel, age of 29 years, without profession, living in Bertrix

prenoms de Marie Zoé Philomène

(first) name of Marie Zoé Philomène

présence de Jean-Baptiste Arnould, âge de trente ans, garde-champrêtre, domicile à Bertrix

(in the) presence of Jean-Baptiste Arnould, age of trente years, policeman of rank, lives in Bertrix

and de Joseph Delogne, âge de trente-sept ans, empolyé, domicile à Bertix

and of Joseph Delogne, age of 37, an employe (usually an government official), living in Bertrix

les père et témoins

The father and witnesses (sign document)

*recorded mistakes in gender usage: masculine instead of feminine

Unlike the European countries, French Canada kept the baptismal form of recording of the actes, especially in fledgling towns. The Catholic and Protestant churches, were still the sources for all records. The information can be recorded in a template, or written out depending on what province or parish, it’s very concise and information provided is varied.

French Canadian Records

(What are ‘dit’ names? Find out Here)

Le quinze Juin mil huit cent soixante trois –
the fifteen of June 1863

baptisé –

Joseph Elie Napoléon

né quatorze –
born the 14th

légitime mariage de –
legitimate marriage of

Napoléon Sauvé dit Laplante –
Napoléon Sauvé known as Laplante

cultivateur –

domicile en cette paroisse –
residence in/at this parish

et de Aurélie Tessier dit Lavgnie –
and of Aurélie Tessier knownn as Lavgnie

Le parrain Emilién Sauvé dit Laplante –
the godfather Emilién Sauvé known as Laplante

cultivateur –

la marraine Zoé Denerts –
the godmother Zoé Denerts

Extractable Information:
Date of Record – 15 June 1863,
event – a baptism,
Name of child : Joseph Elie Napoléon, born the 14th (June 1863)
Names of parents: Napoléon Sauvé dit Laplant and Aurélie Tessier dit Lavgnie
Occupation (of father) farmer
Godparents: Emilién Sauvé dit Laplante and Zoé Denerts
Emile’s occupation -farmer

Let’s move to Tutorial 5- Marriage Records–->

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