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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.
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.
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.
Historic Provinces (and their capitals)
- Currently online record collections for France are not available. See wiki listings* below for more information.
- Finding Records of your Ancestors in France 1792 to 1880
- France Letter Writing Guide
- France Research Outline
- French Archives Online
- French Handwriting
- French Republican Calendar
- French Wordlist
- Gallica: The French “Library of Congress”
- Research Guide for France by BYU
- France Records Websites
*Wiki article describing collections are found at:
- France Births and Baptisms (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- France Deaths and Burials (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- France Marriages (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- France, Coutance, Parich Church Registers (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- France, Diocese of Coutances et d'Avranche, Parish Registers (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- France, Coutances et d'Avranche Diocese, Inquiries of Consanguinity (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- France, Protestant Church Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- France, Quimper et Léon - Parish Registers (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Birth records 1539-1791
- Birth records 1792-Present
- Death records 1539-1791
- Death records 1792-Present
- Marriage records 1539-1791
- Marriage records 1792-Present
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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
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