France Genealogy

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Revision as of 06:56, 15 February 2013 by Paynescrossing (talk | contribs) (The accepted English spelling is Dauphiné not Dauphine)

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Getting started with French research

Welcome to the France page! FamilySearch Wiki is a community website dedicated to helping people throughout the world learn how to find their ancestors. Through the France page you can learn how to find, use, and analyze French records of genealogical value. The content is variously targeted to beginners, intermediate, and expert researchers. Here you will find helpful research tools and research guidance. Please visit the help page to learn more about using the site. The French Page is a work in progress, your contributions and feedback are essential! For help with specific areas in France, click here for a list of locations and topics.

See the tutorials at the FamilySearch Learning Center on basic French Researchand on Reading French Handwritten Records.

History of France

See the Facebook page "Histoire de France - sites et blogs" for more information.


Prior to March 1790 France was organized into provinces.  Several administrative regions of France still carry the names of the former provinces.

Historic Provinces (and their capitals)


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.

Research Tools

Wiki article describing online collections are found at:

Research Strategies

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French citizens of Alsace-Lorraine (Haut Rhin, Bas Rhin, Moselle) often speak German. Many people from this area moved to Russia and the Ukraine and are discussed in Germans from Russia.

Did you know?

  • The archives of most of the départements (states) in France and 60 French cities have digitized a wide range of historical records and made them available online. Additional French archives are coming online monthly. Records available often include birth, marriage, and death records, cadastral and other land records, military records, censuses, and more. Click here to see the latest updates.
  • French national censuses are seldom used for primary research by most family historians, and many have not been microfilmed.
  • Some French military records begin as early as the 1500s. Records since the 19th century may include information about an ancestor's military career, such as promotions, places served, pensions, and conduct. In addition, these records may include information about his age, birthplace, residence, occupation, physical description, and family members.

Things you can do

In order to make this wiki a better research tool, we need your help! Many tasks need to be done. You can help by:

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