|France Research Topics|
|Local Research Resources|
Guide to France ancestry, family history, and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.
France is a country in Western Europe bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Spain, and Andorra. The French Republic was established in 1792. The official language is French.
Getting Started with France Research
Links to articles on getting started with France research.
France Research Tools
Links to articles and websites that assist in French research.
Finding Your Ancestors' Town in France
- Genealogical records are organized by geographical locality. Civil registration (government birth, marriage, and death records) and church records (christenings/baptisms, marriages, and burials) were kept at the local level. To search these records, you must know the town where your ancestors lived.
- If you do not know your ancestors' town, follow the advice in the Wiki article, France Finding Town of Origin to search a variety of records that might provide that information.
France Clickable Map
Click on the specific department name either on the map above or the list below to access the FamilySearch wiki article for that department.
Today France is divided into 96 departments, plus 5 overseas departments. This number has changed over the years, in 1790 there were 83 and at the height of Napoleon's reign there were as many as 130. Records are kept on the town level, but one needs to know in which department the town is located.
Note: The numbers in parentheses following the department name correspond to the numbers on the map above. Territoire-de-Belfort does not have a number on the map; it is located immediately below Haut-Rhin (68). The (1) on the map corresponds to the Paris area shown on the left inset. The final five departments listed below are overseas not shown on map above; their FamilySearch wiki pages may be opened by clicking on the names.
Historic Provinces and their Capitols
French Oversees Territories
Many of the records of the French overseas territories are on-line at Les Archives nationales d’outre-mer, literally The Overseas National Archives.
More France Research Strategies
Research strategies give guidance on how to research or what records to search for first. Below are additional research strategy wiki articles for France.
- How to find births, marriages, deaths, 1539-1791
- How to find births, marriages, and deaths, 1792-Present
- Finding Records of your Ancestors in France 1792 to 1880
- Getting Started
- What's the next step?
- Finding your ancestor in the records
- Germans from Russia - to locate German-speaking French citizens of Alsace-Lorraine
- "How to" Guides
- Beginning Research in France - Parts 1 and 2
- Finding Your French Ancestors Online - Parts 1, 2, and 3
- Out of the Ashes of Paris How to find your Parisian ancestors
- Guide to reading parish records of Toulouse
- Reading French Handwritten Records
- Lesson 1: The French Alphabet
- Lesson 2: Key Words and Phrases
- Lesson 3: Reading French Records
- Comprendre L'écriture de nos Ancêtres - (Understanding the Writing of Our Ancestors) Parts 1 and 2
- Using FranceGenWeb to Access French Records Online
- Calendar Changes in France, Germany, Switzerland, and the Low Countries
Record Types and Beginning Dates
|Record Type (English)||Record Type (French)||Records Begin|
|Civil registration||Etat civil||1792|
|Church records||Registres ecclésiastiques||1525|
|Census, population registers and tax lists||Recensement, centième, denier, registres de la taille et autres registres d’impôts seigneuriaux et royaux||1590|
|Notarial records||Registres notariaux||1300|
|Genealogical collections||Collections généalogiques||1000|
|Passenger lists, emigration registers and passports||Rôles des passagers, registres des émigrés, demandes des passeports pour l’étranger et l’intérieur||1686|
|Orphan and guardianship records||Tutelles, curatelles, émancipations||1500|
|Naturalization and name change records||Lettres de naturalisation et de changements de noms||1635|
|Feudal and allegiance records||Fiefs, terriers, aveux, dénombrements, hommages, reconnaissances des tailles; registres de la justice seigneuriale||1000|
|Death memorials and cemetery inscriptions||Obituaires, registres des cultes anniversaires des décès, et inscriptions mortuaires||1400|
|Military conscriptions, exemptions, deserters||Registres de conscription, dossiers d’exemption, listes des déserteurs||1800|
|Burgess rolls and guild records||Registres de bourgeoisie et corporations de métiers||1300|
|City directories||Répertoires d’adresses||1700|
|Hospital records||Registres des hôtels-Dieu et des hôpitaux||1700|
|French colonial records||Registres d’engagement pour les colonies françaises||1634|
|Public officials and government employee records||Dossiers personnels des fonctionnaires||1525|
|School records||Registres de l’instruction publique, des universités, collèges, sociétés académiques||1300|
|Convent records||Registres des monastères, couvents, abbayes, évêchés||1200|
Research tools can include resources that assist in locating correct records to search and determining the correct locality to search in. Below are links and Wiki articles to research tools in France.
- French Archives Online
- Step-by-Step How to Use France Online Department Archives
- France Letter Writing Guide
- French Republican Calendar
- Gallica: The French “Library of Congress”
- Military records from the WWI Era 1887-1921 online
- France Genealogy Links
- French Genealogy and Family History
- Cyndi's List: France
- Genealogy and Family History in France
- More Websites
Below are FamilySearch resources that can assist you in researching your family.
- Facebook Communities - Facebook groups discussing genealogy research
- Historical Records
- Family History Center locator map
- Wikipedia contributors, "France," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/France, accessed 23 March 2016.