Ain, France Genealogy

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Guide to Ain ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers.



In the year 58 BC Julius Caesar's military action against the Helvetians advancing through Gaul on the territory of today's Ain marked the beginning of the Gallic Wars. In the beginning of the 15th century almost the whole region of Ain is united under the house of Savoy. New monasteries are founded in the cities, churches are constructed or reshaped according to the Gothic style of architecture. In the beginning of the 16th century – the Duchy of Savoy was at the peak of its power – Ain was inherited by Margaret of Habsburg, the widow of Philibert II, Duke of Savoy. In Brou she erected a church and a monastery in late-Gothic style. Bourg-en-Bresse became a bishop's see. After Margaret's death Francis I of France, a nephew of the Dukes of Savoy, claimed the Duchy for himself and conquered it in 1536; however, following a treaty concluded in 1559 Savoy, including the territory of Ain, was restored to the Duke of Savoy who immediately started fortifying it; when shortly thereafter, Henri IV reconquered the region, the citadel of Bourg remained impregnable. The Treaty of Lyon of 17 January 1601 ends finally the conflict. Ain now belonged to Burgundy.

Due to its distance from the frontline the department is spared the destruction of World War I during 1914–1918. However, the majority of the vineyards can no longer be cultivated and disappear. During the years 1939 -1945 World War II vehemently strikes the department of Ain and takes its toll. Ain is a department named after the Ain River on the eastern edge of France in the region Rhône-Alpes.The Department was created during the French Revolution and is subdivided into 9 districts, 49 cantons and 501 communes. Wikipedia

Localities (Communes)

Registres Paroissiaux et Etat civil (Church Records and Civil Registration) Online

The vast majority of your research will be in church records and civil registration. For more information on these records and how to use them, read France Church Records and France Civil Registration. Fortunately, these records are available online from the archives of each department:

Ain Departmental Archives

See Using France Online Department Archives for step by step instructions on finding and reading these records.

Online Census Records

Census records can support your search in civil and church records. They can help identify all family members. When families have similar names they help determine which children belong in each family. See France Census.

Online Local Databases and Extracted Records

Groups devoted to genealogy have also extracted and/or indexed records for specific localities, time periods, religious groups, etc. Since church records at the departmental archives are generally not indexed, you might find an index here that will speed up your searching.

Microfilm Records of the FamilySearch Library

The church and civil registration records have all been microfilmed. Currently, they are being digitized, and plans are to complete that project by 2020. Check back occasionally to see if your records have become available. In the meantime, some of them might be available at a Family History Center near you. To find a microfilm: Click on Ain , find and click on Places within France, Ain, and choose your town.

Writing for Records

Online records tend to cover only the time before 100 years, due to privacy laws. You can write to civil registration offices and local churches who might honor requests for more recent records of close family members for the purpose of genealogy.

For a civil registration office, address your request to:

Monsieur l'officier de l'état-civil
Mairie de (Town)
(Postal code) (Town)

For a parish church:

Monsieur le Curé
(Church --see The Catholic Directory for church name and address)
(Town) (Postal Code) France

For other addresses and for help writing your request in French, use French Letter Writing Guide.

Learning to Read Enough French to Do Genealogy

It's easier than you think! You do not have to be fluent in French to use these records, as there is only a limited vocabulary used in them. By learning a few key phrases, you will be able to read them adequately. Here are some resources for learning to read French records.

There is a three-lesson course in reading handwriting in old French records:

These lessons focus on reading church record and civil registration records:

Another resource is the French Records Extraction Manual, Full Manual. Much more is covered, but these first four lessons are especially useful.

Search Strategy

  • Search for the relative or ancestor you selected. When you find his birth record, search for the births of his brothers and sisters.
  • Next, search for the marriage of his parents. The marriage record will have information that will often help you find the birth records of the parents.
  • You can estimate the ages of the parents and search for their birth records.
  • Search the death registers for all known family members.
  • Repeat this process for both the father and the mother, starting with their birth records, then their siblings' births, then their parents' marriages, and so on.
  • If earlier generations (parents, grandparents, etc.) do not appear in the records, search neighboring parishes.

Genealogical Societies and Help Groups


Family History Centers

Introduction to LDS Family History Centers

  • Family History Centers (FHCs) are branches of FamilySearch and the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah (United States), located all over the world. Their goal is to provide resources to assist you in the research and study of your genealogy and family history by:
    • Giving personal one-on-one assistance to patrons
    • Providing access to genealogical records through the Internet or microfilm loan program
    • Offering free how-to classes (varies by location)
  • There is no cost to visit a Family History Center or FamilySearch Library. They are open to anyone with an interest in genealogical research.They are operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).
  • Partner sites such as,,, and many CD based collections can be searched free of charge.

Finding a Family History Center