Ardennes, France Genealogy

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



After the victory of the allies in the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815, the second Treaty of Paris subtracted territory from Ardennes to attach to the Netherlands. In addition, the department was occupied by Prussian troops from June 1815 to November 1818. On 2 September 1870 Sedan was the place of surrender for Napoleon III at the Battle of Sedan against the troops of the Prussian states. The King of Prussia Wilhelm I, the future emperor of the Second Reich under the same name and Bismarck viewed the battle from the hills overlooking Sedan. The defeat marked the end of the Second Empire, and at the same time the birth of the French Third Republic on 4 September 1870.

During the two world wars for strategic reasons the region each time became the passage for the invading armies because of the narrow width of the Meuse and its deep valley. The French military believed that the region was defended by its terrain and thick forests present in the northern of the department and so neglected the defence of the territory. During the First World War the Battle of the Ardennes was fought in the department and Charleville-Mézières became the headquarters of the German Crown Prince. It was the only French department have been fully occupied during that conflict except for northern Lorraine and Alsace which had been under German administration since 1871. During the Second World War the main effort of the German army was again focused on this area, especially on the right bank of the River Meuse, symbolized by the breakthrough at Sedan which would lead the French troops into the strategic trap the Yellow Plan designed by General von Manstein and approved by Hitler. It is in this department that the Maginot Line ended: the last fort of the line was located about five kilometres from Carignan. The French General staff did not want to continue the line of defence along the border with Belgium, a neutral and friendly country. Furthermore, they hoped that the unique geography and the forest would stop the German army. After the armistice of 1940 Ardennes was declared a "forbidden zone" actually a German settlement area, throughout the occupation by the Nazi army. In 1944 the "Battle of the Bulge" was fought partly in this department. departments of Meuse, Marne, Aisne, and Nord. Wikipedia

Localities (Communes)

Church Records and Civil Registration (Registres Paroissiaux et Etat civil) 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:
Here is the website for the Department Archives of Ardennes, where you will find these records.

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

Online Census Records

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 Ardennes , find and click on "Places within France, Ardennes," and choose your locality from the list.

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.

  • Chapter 4: OTHER ENTRIES
  • Chapter 5: FRENCH HANDWRITING AND SPELLING ==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

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