France Locating Place of Origin

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In order to research your family in France, it is essential that you have identified the place where they came from. It is not enough to know only France or Alsace. You must know the  town, or parish that they came from. In many, if not most, cases, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to identify the place of origin by going directly to French sources. Therefore, you will need to search in American sources first.

Searching in US sources

There are many American sources you can consult to help you find the place of origin of your French ancestor. First, you might want to start by consulting family members who might know where your family came from. If they do not know, they might be in possession of records or documents, such as old family Bibles or letters, that indicate place of origin. Second, you should also check local newspapers and periodicals for such events as wedding announcements, obituaries, or other important life events. Third, you should check US and state censuses. These usually will state only that the person came from ‘France,’ but they can be used to determine when a family immigrated. This information can be very helpful when you search in passenger arrival/port records. Fifth, you should check naturalization records which often give specific place of origin.