Var, France Genealogy
|France Research Topics|
|Local Research Resources|
Guide to Var 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 Writing for Records
- 8 Learning to Read Enough French to Do Genealogy
- 9 Search Strategy
- 10 Genealogical Societies and Help Groups
- 11 Websites
The Department of the Var was created at the time of the French Revolution, on March 4, 1790, from a portion of the former Royal province of Provence. Its capital was originally Toulon, but this was moved for having handed the town to the British in 1793.
Following the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815 the department was occupied by Austrian troops until November 1818.
About one hundred thousand French citizens were repatriated in the 1960s from Algeria following the Algerian War of Independence, and settled in the Var Department.
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 Var, where you will find these records.
See Using France Online Department Archives for step by step instructions on finding and reading these records. For a demonstration of navigating archives websites, watch the video, Using France Department Archives Online.
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.
- 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).
- François Barby Dépouillements de plusieurs communes de Provence
- Contrats de mariages
- Geneprovence Histoire et Généalogie en Provence
- 1542-1900 - France, Civil Registration, Various Communes, 1542-1900 at FamilySearch — index
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 Var , find and click on "Places within France, Var," and choose your locality from the list.
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.
During the reign of Napoleon, a different calendar was used. You will want to translate the dates written in these records back to normal Julian calendar dates. Charts in tis article will help you:
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
Some Catholic Church records will be written in Latin:
- 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 Var
- GenWeb, Var Portal
- Cousins 83
- 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.