French Guiana, France Genealogy
|French Guiana Wiki Topics|
|French Guiana Background|
|Local Research Resources|
The first French effort to colonize Guiana, was in 1763 and failed when tropical diseases and the climate killed all but 2,000 of the initial 12,000 settlers.
Its infamous Île du Diable (Devil's Island) was the site of a small prison facility, part of a larger penal system by the same name, which consisted of prisons on three islands and three larger prisons on the mainland, and which was operated from 1852 to 1953.
The territory of Inini consisted of most of the interior of French Guiana when it was created in 1930. It was abolished in 1946, when French Guiana as a whole became an overseas department of France.
Getting Started with French Guiana Research
Links to articles on getting started with French Guiana research.
French Guiana Research Tools
Links to articles and websites that assist in French Guiana research.
French Guiana, France Map
Genealogy records are kept on the local level in French Guiana.
French Guiana is divided into 2 arrondissements, 19 cantons (not shown here), and 22 communes:
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.
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 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:
- Reading French Handwritten Records Lesson 1: The French Alphabet,
- Reading French Handwritten Records Lesson 2: Key Words and Phrases
- Reading French Handwritten Records Lesson 3: Reading 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 1: OLD FRENCH RECORDS
- Chapter 2: PARISH CHRISTENING AND CIVIL BIRTH ENTRIES
- Chapter 3: MARRIAGE ENTRIES
- Chapter 4: OTHER ENTRIES
- Chapter 5: FRENCH HANDWRITING AND SPELLING
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 Guyane, where you will find these records.
National Overseas Archives, Guyane
Below are FamilySearch resources that can assist you in researching your family.
- Facebook Communities - Facebook groups discussing genealogy research
- Wikipedia contributors, “French Guiana,” in ‘’Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,’’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Guiana, accessed 29 April 2016.