French Polynesia: Family History Research Ideas From Ives Perrin

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French Polynesia: Family History Research Ideas From Ives Perrin[edit | edit source]

Ives Perrin served as a mission president (of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) in Tahiti, and as a Church educator in the islands of French Polynesia for several years. His suggestions for the steps a person from French Polynesia should take to get records after interviewing family members are as follows: 

1. Secure an official government record.
Citizens are required to do this by law, but people on the outer islands sometimes put it off. People have a Polynesian name and an official French name. One must have the French name when we declare births with the government. One can find our parents’ records, which tell where we are from.

2. Go to the Family History Center in Papeete and ask for help from the directors.
Presently, Elder and Sister Gautier are the FHC Directors. They both are fluent in French, and Sister Gautier knows Tahitian. They both understand the full situation of getting access to records.

3. If you do not speak French, you should ask a translator to go with you.
A person needs to know the French language to use the government records.

4. Use the FamilySearch Catalog to gain access to the records the Family History Library has.
One oral genealogy which a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave to Ives contained 77 generations. It is also in the FamilySearch Catalog under the subject French Polynesia - Church History. It also appears in the book Seasons of Faith and Courage, by S. George Ellsworth and Kathleen C. Perrin, Published by Yves R. Perrin. This book is also in the FamilySearch Catalog. Use a Title search to find it.

Ives recommended that we read the book Tahiti in Ancient Days. It has information about Thor Heyerdahl’s expeditions. Another book with information about Heyerdahl’s research is American Indians in the Pacific.

Resources Available for All of French Polynesia[edit | edit source]

Use the FamilySearch Catalog. Go to the Internet at and click on the Library tab. From that tab, click on the FamilySearch Catalog. Type in French Polynesia to get a list of the islands and island groups and to see what records were made under this large jurisdiction.

Then we should type in the name of each island group for records in that jurisdiction and then type in the name of the island that interests you. On Tahiti, records are listed under the name of the town.

Also, do a keyword search on Tahiti. Over 220 items will appear.
Note: All of these islands are a protectorate of France.The people of these islands are full citizens of France. School children must learn French history. French is the governing language, and the civil records are kept in French. Jurisdictions are organized the same way.

Births, marriages, and deaths are recorded by the government, and citizens are required to have an official government record. Tables are published by the government every ten years giving an index to the names in the records.This facilitates genealogical research up to the time when the French first came to the islands. They have been keeping records since the early 1800's. Notarial records are available from the year 1862. Large numbers of civil registration records are available from 1843. A large number of oral genealogies and land records are also available.

Cole Jensen Collection[edit | edit source]

An important collection of compiled genealogies for the Pacific Islands is found in the Cole-Jensen Collection: Oral Genealogies and Genealogical Information Collected from the Polynesian Peoples and from the Pacific Islands. These records were collected over a 50 year period and microfilmed in 1984 by the Genealogical Society of Utah. The original collection consisted of 51 binders. The original materials no longer exist as an intact collection. However, there are nine microfilms of the binders available at various family history centers. They are numbers 1358001-1358009. This collection contains family group records, pedigree charts, and oral genealogies collected from the islands of Hawaii,New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga, Niue, Cook Islands, and French Polynesia, including the Society, Marquesas, Austral Islands, and the Tuamoto Archipelago. Look for the Mciorfilm numbers for French Polynesia by isalnd group, listed below.

Get Further Information for Individual Island Groups.[edit | edit source]

When you put your family history together, you may not have many dates to work with.   Study the history of the islands where your ancestors lived by starting with the historical background for the island group of your ancestors. To see a time line for each of the island groups and to find research resources for them, please click on each of the island groups listed on the French Polynesia article. separately. This is because Wiki pages are usually short, as due to programming constraints, most Wiki pages can only hold a certain amounts of information at one time in a given article, so it has been separated into sections.

For further information, see also the French Polynesia article