Paris, France Genealogy
|France Research Topics|
|Local Research Resources|
Guide to Paris ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers.
- 1 History
- 2 Localities (Communes)
- 3 Church Records and Civil Registration (Registres Paroissiaux et Etat Civil) Online
- 4 Online Census Records
- 5 Online Local Databases and Extracted Records
- 6 Microfilm Records of the FamilySearch Library
- 7 Learning to Read Enough French to Do Genealogy
- 8 Search Strategy
- 9 Genealogical Societies and Help Groups
- 10 Websites
The Romans conquered the Paris Basin in 52 BC and, by the end of the Western Roman Empire, the town was known as Parisius, a Latin name that would later become Paris.
During the Hundred Years' War, Paris was occupied by England-friendly Burgundian forces from 1418, before being occupied outright by the English when Henry V of England entered the French capital in 1420; this was in spite of a 1429 effort by Joan of Arc to liberate the city, it would remain under English occupation until 1436. In the late 16th-century French Wars of Religion, Paris was a Catholic League stronghold, the organisers of the 24 August 1572 St. Bartholomew's Day massacre that killed thousands of French Protestants. The conflicts ended when Henry IV, after converting to Catholicism to gain entry to the capital, entered the city in 1594 to claim the crown of France.
In the summer of 1789, Paris became the centre stage of the French Revolution. On 14 July, a mob seized the arsenal at the Invalides, acquiring thousands of guns, and stormed the Bastille, a symbol of royal authority.
The storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789 marked the beginning of the French Revolution when
Louis XVI and the royal family were brought to Paris and made prisoners within the Tuileries Palace. In 1793, as the revolution turned more and more radical, the king, queen, and the mayor were guillotined, along with more than 16,000 others during the Reign of Terror. The property of the aristocracy and the church was nationalised, and the city's churches were closed, sold or demolished. A succession of revolutionary factions ruled Paris until 9 November 1799. In 1860, Napoleon III also annexed the surrounding towns and created eight new arrondissements, expanding Paris to its current limits.
During the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871), Paris was besieged by the Prussian army. After months of blockade, hunger, and then bombardment by the Prussians, the city was forced to surrender on 28 January 1871. On 28 March, a revolutionary government called the Paris Commune seized power in Paris.
During the First World War, Paris sometimes found itself on the front line; 600 to 1,000 Paris taxis played a small but highly important symbolic role in transporting 6,000 soldiers to the front line at the First Battle of the Marne. The city was also bombed by Zeppelins and shelled by German long-range guns.
The department of Seine, which was abolished on 1 January 1968, was divided into four new departments: Paris, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, and Val de-Marne. Paris is surrounded by the other three. The Seine department was originally called the Paris department when it was created on March 4, 1790.
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 Paris, where you will find these records.
Civil registration before 1860 was destroyed by a fire in 1871, but some have been reconstituted and the alphabetical cards are available on the site also.
See Using France Online Department Archives for step by step instructions on finding and reading these records.
Online Census Records
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.
- Paris, France & Vicinity, Births, 1700-1899, index, ($).
- Paris, France & Vicinity Marriage Banns, 1860-1902, index, ($).
- Paris, France & Vicinity Marriages, 1700-1907, index, ($)
- Paris & Vicinity, France, Death Notices, 1860-1902, index, ($)
- Paris & Vicinity, France Electoral Rolls, 1891, index, ($).
- Tout en Un (All in One) Online Databases Check for online databases and records in right column. Check back occasionally to see if new databases have become available.
- Tout en Un (All in One) Local Databases Here you may find extracted/translated records, record indexes, and other helpful records such as cemetery, land, or military records.
- Geneanet Collaborative Indexes Search by locality (parish or commune).
- France, Protestant Church Records, 1536-1894 at FamilySearch (index and images)
- Cercle d’Études Généalogiques et Héraldiques de l'Île-de-France
- CEGHIF Databases
- Centre d'entraide généalogique de France (association ayant aussi une vocation nationale)
- Archives Nationales - État des notaires
- Cimetière du Père Lachaise
- Census of Paris 1292
- Relevés des décès sur Paris
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 Seine , find and click on "Places within France, Seine," 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:
- 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, with this linked Table of Contents. You will be able to practice on actual documents.
- 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.
Genealogical Societies and Help Groups
- Tout en Un Paris
- GenWeb, Paris Portal
- Cousins 75
- Geneanet Surname Search
- France Geneawiki Genealogical Sources includes instructional discussions of various records available.
- French Republican Calendar. This site will help you translate dates used by France from 24 October 1793 to 31 December 1805.
- There are parallel articles also available on the French Language Wiki. Because they are maintained by different authors, links may be added there that do not appear here. Generally, the articles translate automatically to English when accessed.