Bas-Rhin, France Genealogy

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

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History

Bas-Rhin is one of the original 83 departments created on 4 March 1790, during the French Revolution. In the mid-1790s, following the French occupation of the entire left bank of the Rhine, the northern boundary of the department was extended north beyond the Lauter River to the Queich River. With Napoleon's second defeat in 1815, the Congress of Vienna reassigned the areas north of the Lauter to Bavaria, and those territories are now presently located in the neighboring German state of Rheinland-Pfalz. The department has twice been incorporated into Germany, from 1871 after France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War until the end of World War I in 1918, and then again briefly during World War II from 1940 to 1945.
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Localities

Online Church Records and Civil Registration

The vast majority of your research will be in church records and civil registration. Fortunately, these records are available online from the archives of each department.

Finding Church Records and Civil Registration Online

Each Department of France has archives that provide digitized images of these records.
Here is the website for the Department Archives of Bas-Rhin, where you will find these records.

Department Archives of Bas-Rhin

  • Registres paroissiaux (parish registers)
  • Registres d'état civil (civil registration)
  • Censuses (Recensements)

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

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 determine a birth year to 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.



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, German, or Latin to Do Genealogy

It's easier than you think! You do not have to be fluent in French or German 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. Because this region once belonged to Germany, many records are written in German.

German

Here are some resources for learning to read German Records:

French

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, with this linked Table of Contents. You will be able to practice on actual documents.

Latin

Some Catholic church records will be in Latin.

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

Land

  • Emigration und Nationalgüterveräusserungen im Pfälzischen Teil des Departements du Bas-Rhin FHL Book 943.43 R2m
    The settlement of and purchase of government land by private individuals in the Pfalz region of Germany during the French occupation from 1791 to 1815
  • Répertoire numérique détaillé de la série Q, domaines nationaux FHL Film 908803, book 944.3835 A5rn ser. Q
    Numerical index to the departmental archives of the Bas-Rhin, series Q, national lands

Military

  • Les Bas-Rhinois dans les armées de la Révolution et du 1er Empire FHL Book 944.3835 M2L
  • Registres militaires et tableaux de recensement, 1817-1856 FHL 50 rolls
    A census of 19 and 20 year old males from the arrondisements of: Saverne, Sélestat, Strasbourg and Wissembourg

Notarial records

  • Numerical index of the notarial archives of the former area of Basse- Alsace, now in the department of Bas-Rhin, France. Includes an index of notaries and clientele. (Répertoire numérique des archives notariales de Basse Alsace) FHL Film 962552 Item 2

Schools

  1. Directory of the Evangelical Lutheran clergy, parishes, communities, and schools of higher learning, 1525-1694. (Die evangeliche Gemeinden und Hohen Schulen in Elsass und Lothringen von der Reformation bis zur Gegenwart) FHL Film 1045340 Item 4, Book 943 B4b v. 16

Taxation

  • Register of the revenue and list of taxpayers for the bailliage of Uffried. (Registres des revenus du bailliage de l'Uffried, 1561) FHL Film 1165973 Item 2
    Includes registers of Stattmatten, Dalhunden, Sessenheim, Rountzenheim, Roeschwoog, and Roppenheim.

Societies and Libraries

Family History Centers

Websites

References