American-French Genealogical Society

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United States
Rhode Island
American-French Genealogical Society

American-French Genealogical Society (AFGS)
Established 1978
Contact Info
Address 78 Earle Street
Rhode Island 02895-0870
Telephone (401)-765-6141
Fax (401)-597-6290
The American-French Genealogical Society (AFGS), formed in February of 1978, is a non-profit genealogical and historical organization devoted to people of French-Canadian extraction. Its purpose is to study and preserve our rich heritage by assisting members in discovering their ancestors and the daily events that shaped their, and our, lives.

Mission Statement

The mission of the American-French Genealogical Society is:

  • To collect, preserve and publish cultural, genealogical, historical and biographical matter relating to Americans of French and French Canadian descent.
  • To play an active part in the preservation of French and French Canadian culture and heritage; and highlight the role that they have played in the history of North America.
  • To maintain an educational, research and cultural center.
  • To conduct periodic educational programs and conferences to explore cultural, genealogical, and historical topics.
  • To disseminate cultural, genealogical, historical, and biographical information to members and the general public.

Contact Information


AFGS logo.gif

Address: 78 Earle Street
                 Woonsocket, Rhode Island 02895-0870

Telephone: (401)-765-6141
Fax: 401-597-6290


Monday 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Tuesday 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

We will only be closed Saturdays in July for 2011

Benefits of American-French Genealogical Society

Here is a link to some of the benefits of American-French Genealogical Society membership. These include:

  • American-French Genealogical Society is now an Affiliate of Family Search of LDS for their Genealogy Collection. You may rent their microfilms and microfiche and view them at the AFGS Library.
  • Information on Planing a Visit to AFGS
  • Beginning Genealogy information
  • Film Room request for copies of headstone pictures
  • Obituary pictures
  • Research request copies.
  • DNA Research-Genetics information
  • An updates mailing list of the latest information
  • Donate to the Memory of a person
  • Lending Library
  • Canadian Drouin Resources, books and films
  • AFGnewS,
  • AFGS French Canadian Hall of Fame.
  • Items For Sale, Publications, Je Me Souviens, Online Store with other items.
  • Historical collection (pictures), orayer card pictures, and recipes,
  • Language helps: phrases used for research, translations, how to type French accents, and Surname Variations and dit Names.
  • Databases: cemetery, headstone and obituaries. genealogy links, and reference information
  • Acadian Heritage Section Acadian Genealogy
  • Links to genealogy websites
  • Over 30 links to quality historical videos.

Please review the American-French Genealogical Society website for more about the above benefits..

History of the society

  • Established 1978

Canadian immigration into the United States began as early as the seventeenth century, but between 1871 and 1901 the greatest influx of immigrants entered this country. Taxation, debts, unemployment, and a failing economic environment contributed to over 2 million Canadians with shattered dreams migrating to the U.S. seeking economic refuge. This was a major loss to Canada, whose population at the time ranged from 3.7 million to 4.8 million.

Since then, more than 10 million of their descendants have assimilated into American society. The language and culture preserved by the over-whelming number of Franco-Americans is disappearing, however, due to sociological changes.

The American-French Genealogical Society, formed in February of 1978, is a non-profit genealogical and historical organization devoted to people of French-Canadian extraction. Its purpose is to study and preserve our rich heritage by assisting members in discovering their ancestors and the daily events that shaped their, and our, lives.

The Society is actively involved in extracting, collating, and publishing Franco-American vital statistics, parish registers, burial records, and other data consistent with our culture. Our progressive leadership, assembled from a cross-section of our membership, is dedicated to the continued growth of the Society and the preservation of French-Canadian culture in the United States. Long- and short-range plans include broadening the Society's horizons, increasing its capability to direct research, and facilitating its members' search for their ancestors.


  • Je Me Souviens (JMS) A Publication of the American-French Genealogical Society (in English)

    AFGS members receive Je Me Souviens, a semi-annual, 100+ page journal filled with resources for genealogists, member's research stories, new members listings and facts and tips.


  • AFGnewS is a bi monthly newsletter sent to AFGS members and available to non-members

Events - Classes

AFGS class2010.JPG
Listing of the AFGS Classes and Events

Classes normally are held in our class room area, during library hours.

At times the class may be held in the library before the library opens.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What are the directions to the society?
A. Link to Google Maps Society is at 78 Earle St, Woonsocket, Rhode Island, USA
Q. What are the society's hours of operation?
A. Open
Monday 11:00 a.m. to 4:00.p.m., Tuesday 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m.

Research Links on

USA Canada Canada

                                       Facebook Link                          Google Plus Link

                                                          Surname Variations

                        Surnames Variations, French-Canadian Variants, dit, Anglicization, etc.

                                                             "dit" Names etc.
    Rita Elise Plourde (10) ~ Rita Elise (Ploude) Plourde passed away in 2010

  • There are two reasons why there are so many variant spellings of some names.
  • First: most of the citizens of the 1600-1800 were illiterate. Of these, a precious few could sign their names. However, the priests,seminarians,missionaries, monks & nuns were the most educated groups in the citizenry. Only an elite few were educated beyond what we, today, would consider a basic elementary education.
  • Consequently, many of the clerics & notories, who under the French system of administration were charged with recording "vital statistics" wrote the names as they knew them to be in France, as a precious few of the immigrants/colonists signed them, or as they heard them (phonetically).
  • That is why one sees Garau, Garrault, Gareau,Garo, etc... even amongst the sons of a particualr ancestor. A good example are the descendants of Louis Houde...some of the variant spellings found are: Houd,Houle, Ould,Houde,Hood,etc.
  • The second reason for variant spellings is: As the colonists migrated within Nouvelle France/New France & eventually beyond the areas of French-speaking Canada ( ex. to current-day USA, the Caribbean, the West Indies, etc.) recorders of "vital statistics" who were not French speakers, usually spelled names phonetically, or changed them because they didn't have a clue how to write them.

(Ex. Rochefort became Rushfort in the Carolinas, Champagne became Shampang, Thibodeaux became Thibodo, or Tibodo. LeBrun was changed to Brown & Leblanc to White, etc.etc.)

  • The "dit" names have an interesting origin. The English translation of "dit" is "said". The Colonists of Nouvelle France added "dit" names as distinguishers. A settler might have wanted to differentiate their family from their siblings by taking a "dit" name that described the locale to which they had relocated ( ex: since the Colonists followed the customs of the French feudal system, land was divided amongst the first born sons [primogeniture] . Soon there was not enough land to divide any further.
  • Perhaps an adventurous younger son would decide to establish himself, with or without a family, in another area... say a fertile piece of land near some streams... he might add des ruisseaux (streams/creeks/rivulets) to distinguish himself from his brothers. When he married,or died, his name might be listed as Houde dit DesRuisseaux, or Desruisseau(s).
  • The acquiring of a "dit" name might also be the result of a casual adoption, whereby the person wanted to honor the family who had raised them. Another reason was also to distinguish themselves by taking as a "dit" name the town or village in France from which they originated... ex: Huret dit Rochefort.

Rita Elise Plourde (10) was a member of AFGS and contributer of cultural, or historical comments in response to the queries posed by volunteers in the AFGS Volunteers mailing list.

She was bilingually educated ( K thru college) Franco-American anthropologist, who was raised in a multicultural environment. Rita explored, examine & extol the culture of her French/Acadian/Quebecois ancestors & contemporary relatives.

Her primary aim as an AFGS member is the sharing of information & research regarding her French/Acadian/Quebecois ancestors, their culture & their legacy.

Here is the link to the AFGS website with over 35,000 surname variations

Here is the link on the AFGS website to French-Canadian Given Names:
English Variants, Anglicization's, Latin