France Cultural Groups

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The population of France was about 6.5 million in AD 1000. It reached 16 million by 1300 when the plague reduced the population by about one third. By 1600 it had recovered and increased to18.5 million. Emigration from France to the Caribbean, Mexico, Canada and the United States was significant. Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil were also popular destinations for French emigrants. Migrants from French colonies also made their way to the United States. Despite extensive emigration, particularly by Huguenot Protestants, the industrial revolution propelled the population to 41 million by 1900.

The population of France today includes over 58.1 million inhabitants. Immigration of native peoples from former and current French colonies and from other areas has resulted in a significant number of minorities in France. Major foreign groups are Portuguese (650,000), Algerians (615,000), Moroccans (573,000), eastern Europeans and others. Major ethnic groups are Germans (1.4 million), Bretons (1.2 million), Flemish (400,000), Catalonians (200,000), Corsicans (140,000), and Basques (130,000).[1]

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.

Locating Minority Records[edit | edit source]

Online Records[edit | edit source]

These records include baptism registry certificates from the Armenian Prelature of Marseille as well as registers of Armenian refugees at Camp Oddo in Marseille between 1922 and 1927.

Records at the Family History Library[edit | edit source]

The Family History Library collects records of these groups, especially published histories. These are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog, Place search, under:





Other sources are also in the Subject section of the FamilySearch 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. (Family History Library film 1071437 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. (Family History Library book 944.383 F2; film 1184064 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 FamilySearch 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:






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.

See the "Church History" and "Church Records" sections for more information about Huguenots, Mennonites, and other Christian religious minorities.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: France,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1984-1998.