Charente, France Genealogy

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

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History

Charente is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790. It was created from the former province of Angoumois. Angoumois was a county and province of France. Its capital was Angoulême, and it nearly corresponded to the Charente Department.
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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 Charente, 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

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 Charente , find and click on "Places within France, Charente," 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.

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 family members.
  • Then repeat the whole process for both the father and the mother.
  • If earlier generations are not in the record, search neighboring parishes.


Genealogical Societies and Help Groups

Websites