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Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center

French-Canadian Guide


People of French-Canadian and Acadian descent are fortunate in having ancestors who are among the best documented people in the world. French-Canadian pedigrees are primarily constructed on the basis of marriage records and can usually be extended ten to fifteen generations in every line back to the immigrant ancestor. In many cases, the parish or village of origin in France can also easily be found. All that is needed to begin a search are the names of a couple married in Quebec and an approximate date of marriage.

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Quebec Vital Records & Genalogies

The primary source is the Catholic parish register. These records are nearly complete from 1621 to the present, and most are accessible in the publications listed here. Most researchers will begin their search in the marriage index to the Drouin Collection or in the Loiselle Marriage Index, both described below. Locate an ancestral couple's marriage record and the names of both sets of parents will be given. Then locate the marriage records of those two couples, and so on, until an entire genealogical tree is constructed. Please keep in mind the following tips:

  1. For abbreviations preceding vital record dates: b=baptized and s=buried.

  2. Many families had "dit" names or aliases reflecting geographic origins, physical appearance, etc., which often replaced the family name. An ancestor's record may be filed under a variant surname. Lists appear in some of the sources given below.

  3. As all children were given the additional name Joseph or Marie at baptism, an ancestor's record may be filed under that name, or the other half of these common combinations:




    Rose Alma

















  4. Some families in Loiselle have several A-Z sequences of first names. Names in the Drouin Collection marriage index are not always filed in strict alphabetical order.

  5. Entries in the indexes filed under "Inconnu" indicate surname unknown.

  6. If a pre-1755 marriage is not in the Quebec indexes, try the Acadian sources.

  7. The French priests used an "8" to indicate a sound in a native language, sometimes translated as "ou." If there is an "8" in the name, you have found an Indian ancestor.

Bouchard, Leonard. Morts tragiques et violentes au Canada 17e et 18e siecles. 2 vols. Les Publications Audiovisuelles, 1982. /Gc 929.17 B66m/ Information on 1500 people who died a tragic or violent death in Canada during the years 1608-1799, with an appendix on 625 women who died in childbirth.

Brunelle, Claude. Index for Drouin Microfilm Collection. Woonsocket, RI: American French Genealogical Society, 2003. /Gc 971.4 P39fa/ A guide to the Drouin Collection listed below.

Drouin Collection. Woonsocket, RI: American French Genealogical Society. /microfilm/ Filmed original parish registers and vital records from all religious denominations in Quebec from their origins until about 1935-42, covering baptisms, marriages, burials, and notarial acts. The collection includes records to mid-1968 for Hull and Gatineau. It also includes records for predominantly French-Canadian areas of Ontario (Ottawa to mid-1968), New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and the U. S.

Drouin Collection: Repertoire Alphabetique des Mariages des Canadiens-Francaise, 1760-1935. Woonsocket, RI: American French Genealogical Society, 2000. /microfiche/ An index by bride and groom to marriages in the Drouin Collection.

Charbonneau, Hubert et Jacques Legare, ed Repertoire des actes de bapteme, mariage, sepulture et des recensements du Quebec ancien. Montreal: Les Presses de l'Universite de Montreal, 1980-90.47 vols. /Gc 971.4 R29/ For an explanatory Key to the Repertory in English see /Gc 971.4 R29a/ This comprehensive demographic database extracts almost all information from the parish registers: dates (year-month-day), full names including witnesses and their spouses, sex, age, marital status, occupation, kinship, places of residence and origin, etc., of every person mentioned. Quebec's early nominal censuses are also included. The full range of records covered up to 1765 includes: recantation, baptism, confirmation, hospital sick list, list of migrants, marriage, marriage contract, census, burial and marriage annulment records. All spelling variants must be checked because register entries have been transcribed exactly as recorded.

Denissen, Christian. Genealogy of the French Families of the Detroit River Region 1701-1936 Revision. 2 vols. Harold Frederic Powell, ed. Detroit: Detroit Society for Genealogical Research, 1987. /Gc 977.4 D41ga/

Fairbault-Beauregard, Marthe. La population des forts francais d' Amerique: Repertoire des baptemes, mariages et sepultures celebres dans les forts et les establissements francais en Amerique du Nord au XVIIIe siecle. Montreal: Editions Bergeron, 1982 & 1984. /Gc 929.14 B38p/ 2 vols. Church and census records (1695-1821) from 15 French outposts on the frontier.

Index des baptemes, marriages, sepultures de protestants de fa region de Quebec ca 1790-1875. Quebec: Archives Nationales du Quebec, 1983. /Microfiche/ Covers the regions of Quebec,

Levis, Lotbiniere and Portneuf. Check the microtext catalog for collections of non-Catholic registers from other areas of the Quebec province.

Institut Genealogique Drouin. Dictionnaire national des Canadiens francais (1608-1760) 3 vols. Montreal, 1965 /Gc 929.17 D56/ Dictionary of marriage records often giving the place of origin for the immigrant.

Jette, Rene. Dictionnaire genealogique des familles du Quebec des origines a 1730. Montreal: Les Presses de l'Universite de Montreal, 1983 /Gc 971.4 J51d/ Genealogies of families settled in Quebec by 1730. Compiled from Catholic registers, censuses, notarial contracts, etc. An appendix lists surnames and variants. Updates Tanguay, but still contains errors.

Jette, Rene et Micheline Lecuyer. Repertoire des noms de famille du Quebec des origines a 1825. Montreal: Institut Genealogique J. L. et Associes Inc, 1988. /Gc 971.4 J51r/

Leboeuf, J. Arthur. Complement au dictionnaire genealogique Tanguay. 3 vols. Montreal: Societe Genealogique Canadienne-Francaise, 1957, 1963, 1964. /Gc 929.17 Tl5da/ Corrections to Tanguay's work, with 15,000 additional marriages before 1800.

Loiselle, Antonin. Loiselle Marriage Index (1640-1963) and Supplement. /Microfilm/ Abstracts of marriages from 460 parishes, indexed by both bride and groom. Entries include: names of bride and groom, parents' names, date (year-day-month) and parish of marriage. Lists of abbreviations and parishes covered are on each reel.

Pepin, Jean-Pierre-Yves. Inventaire des 2365 microfilms du fonds Drouin. [Longueuil, Québec]: Éditions historiques et généalogiques Pepin, 1997?-1998? /Gc 971.4 P39f/

Tanguay, Cyprien. Dictionnaire genealogique des familles canadiennes. Montreal: Eusebe Senecal, 1871-1890. 7 vols. /Gc 929.17 Tl5d/ Genealogies compiled from the archives of 161 parishes. Useful appendices include: 1) a comprehensive list of "dit" names; 2) lists of the 528 parishes founded in Quebec by 1871; 3) an alphabetical list of French villages in 1631; and 4) names of whites married to female natives.

White, Jeanne Sauve. Guide to Quebec Catholic Parishes and Published Parish Marriage Records. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1993. /Gc 971.4 W58g/ This work contains a county listing of Quebec parishes to 1900 providing the date of formation and the oldest record available for the parish. In addition, it provides a diocese-by-diocese inventory of the parish covered in Loiselle, a listing of organizations that publish parish records, finding aids, background data and other useful research aids.

 Marriage "repertoires" are indexed abstracts of all marriages recorded in a particular parish, county or region for a specific time period. Hundreds have been published and some include baptisms and burials. Most are available in the Genealogy Department. Check the online catalog under the name of the town, parish, and county of interest.

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Quebec Notarial Records

Notarial records are the second most valuable source for researchers. The notary functioned as a general local official in the French colonies, recording civil marriage contracts, inventories, wills, guardianships, land grants, sales, and other transactions. In case of a missing parish register, the marriage contract will supply parents' names. Microfilmed notarial acts are included in the Drouin Collection cited earlier.

Roy, Pierre-Georges. Inventaire des contrats de mariage du regime francais conserves aux Archives judiciaires de Quebec. 6 vols. Quebec: Archives de la province de Quebec, 1937-38. /Gc 971.4 Q3in/ An inventory of 17th and 18th century notarial marriage contracts arranged alphabetically by both bride and groom then chronologically within each surname.

Roy, Pierre-Georges, Antoine Roy, et al. Inventaire des greffes des notaires du regime francais. 27 vols. Quebec: Archives, 1943-76. /Gc 971.4 R8li/ Chronological item inventories of the records of 81 notaries (1637-1769) which are preserved in the archives of the province of Quebec.

There are name indexes following the records of each notary in volumes 9-27, and a separate

cumulative name index for volumes 1-8.

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Quebec Census Records

The Quebec censuses dating from 1666-1901 are the third most valuable source for researchers. For a list of published pre-1851 census returns refer to the periodical Lost in Canada? vol. 10, no. 3, August 1984, pp. 163-4. The online 1881 Canadian Census found at the FamilySearch website [] and the 1871 Ontario Census Index currently provide the only province-wide indexes for the major post-1825 Quebec censuses. Once a specific place of marriage has been discovered, however, it is fairly easy to search the film for that locality and find the family. Agricultural schedules accompany some censuses, and in 1851 and 1861 wives are listed with their maiden names. The 1901 census gives exact birth dates.

Quebec census /Microfilm/1825, 1831, 1842 - heads of families 1851 (taken in 1852), 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 - nominal census

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Acadian History & Genealogies

The French colony of Acadia was founded in 1604 and covered what is now Nova Scotia and parts of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Maine. The territory was a perennial battleground for the French and British, and in 1755 more than 7000 Acadians were deported to the American colonies. Thousands more were exiled to France. By 1785 many had found refuge in the Spanish colony of Louisiana. Unlike Quebec, Acadian parish registers and notarial records have suffered extensive losses. Important published sources are listed below.

Arsenault, Bona. Histoire et genealogie des Acadiens. rev. ed. 6 vols. Ottawa: Editions Lemeac Inc., 1978. /Gc 929.171 Ar7hi/ An important work on Acadian genealogy and history to 1755. [see next entry]

Arsenault, Bona. History of the Acadians. rev. ed. Ottawa: Editions Lemeac Inc., 1978. /Gc 929.171 Ar7hb/ English translation of vol. 1 above, including a glossary of key French words.

Bergeron, Adrien. Le Grand Arrangement des Acadiens au Quebec 1625-1925. 8 vols. Montreal: Editions Elysee, 1981. /Gc 971.4 B45g/

Deville, Winston. Acadian Church Records 1679-1757. Mobile, AL: The compiler, 1964. /Gc 971.6 D49a/ Miscellaneous records dating 1679-86 and 1753-57.

Hebert, Donald J. Index and Key Words to Histoire et Genealogie des Acadiens by Bona Arsenault. Cecilia, LA: The Author, 1979. /Gc 929.171 Ar7hia/

Jehn, Janet B. Corrections & Additions to Arsenault's Histoire et Genealogie des Acadiens. Covington, KY: The Author, 1988. /Gc 929.171 Ar7h suppl./

Morrison, Phoebe Chauvin. Acadian Church Records Index, with Annotations. Houma, AL: P. C. Morrison, 2001. /Gc 971 M833a/

Rieder, Milton P., Jr., and Norma Gaudet Rieder, ed. Acadian Church Records. Metairie, LA: The editors, 1976-83. /Gc 971.6 D49a/ [For vol. 1 see DeVille] vol. 2 -Beaubassin 1712-1748 vols. 3-5 - Port Royal 1702-1740

White, Stephen A. Dictionnaire Genealogique des Families Acadiennes: premiere partie, 1636 a 1714, en Deux Volumes. Moncton, NB: Centre d'etudes Acadiennes, Universite de Moncton, 1999. /Gc 971 W585d/ The key work on early Acadian genealogy.

______________. English Supplement to the Dictionnaire généalogique des Familles Acadiennes. Moncton, NB: Centre d'études Acadiennes, Université de Moncton, 2000-. /Gc 971 W585da/ Pt. 1. 1636 to 1714.

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Sources on the Acadian Exiles

The following contain data useful in connecting the Acadian settlers of Louisiana (1764-85) and other colonies, with those expelled from Acadia (1755-63).

Hebert, Donald J. Acadians in Exile. Cecilia, LA: Hebert Publications, 1980. /Gc 929.171 H35a/ Includes: Acadian records in Canada, France and the West Indies; Acadian censuses of 1671, 1686, & 1714; history of the Acadian migrations; and inventory of resources.

Jehn, Janet. Acadian Exiles in the colonies: Covington, KY: The author, 1977. /Gc929.171 J38ac/ Includes lists of Acadians in the American colonies, Acadian prisoners at Halifax 1763, and vital records of Acadians in the civil state of Guyana 1763-1792.

Morrison, Phoebe Chauvin. Early Acadian Census Index, 1671-1714, with Annotations. Houma, LA: P. C. Morrison, 2001. /Gc 971 M833aa/

______________. Louisiana’s Acadian Coast Census Index: 1766, 1769, 1777 with Annotations. Houma, LA: P. C. Morrison, 2001. /Gc 976.3 M833L/

Rieder, Milton P., Jr., and Norma Gaudet Rieder, comp. The Acadian Exiles in the American Colonies 1755-1768. Metairie, LA: The compilers, 1977. /Gc 929.171 R44a/ Lists for Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, S. Carolina, Massachusetts, & Maryland.

Rieder, Milton P., Jr., and Norma Gaudet Rieder. The Acadians in France. 3 vols. Metairie, LA: The authors, 1967. /Gc 929.14 R44a/ Rolls of Acadians living in France 1762-1776, and lists of deportees, 1758-63.

Rieder, Milton P., Jr. and Norma Gaudet Rieder. The Crew and Passenger Registration Lists of the Seven Acadian Expeditions of 1785. Metairie, LA: The authors, 1965. /Gc 976.3 R44c/ A listing of the Acadians who migrated from France to Spanish Louisiana in 1785.

Robichaux, Albert J., Jr. The Acadian Exiles in Nantes, 1775-1785. Harvey, LA: The author, 1978. /Gc 929.171 R55ac/

Robichaux, Albert J., Jr. The Acadian Exiles in Saint-Malo 1758-1785. 3 vols. Eunice, LA: Hebert Publications, 1981. /Gc 929.171 R55acs/ The third volume covers marriages in the departments of Cotes-du-Nord, ille-et-Vilaine, Morbihan and Loire-Atlantique, and also supplements the author's book on exiles in Nantes.

Robichaux, Albert J., Jr. Acadian Marriages in France: Department of Ille-et-Vilaine, 1759-1776. Harvey, LA: The author, 1976. /Gc 929.171 R55a/ Includes an excellent brief history of the Acadians exiled to France.

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Other References

Bouchette, Joseph. A Topographical Dictionary of the Province of Lower Canada. London:

Longmans,1832. /Gc 971.4003 B66t/

Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1972-. /Gc 929.17 D561/

Elliot, Noel Montgomery, ed. The French Canadians 1600-1900: An Alphabetized Directory of the People, Places and Vital Dates. 3 vols. Toronto: The Genealogical Research Library, 1992 /Gc 971 F88/ 468,000 references compiled principally from city and town directories, land records, and marriage records.

Gagne, Peter J. King's Daughters and Founding Mothers: the Filles du Roi, 1663-1673. Pawtucket, RI: Quintin Publications, 2001. /Gc 971.4 G122k/ Data on women recruited in France to marry settlers in North America in exchange for a dowry from the king, 1663-73.

Laforest, Thomas J. Our French-Canadian Ancestors. Palm Harbor, FL: LISI Press, 1983-98. 30 vols. /Gc 971.4 L13o/ Documented biographies of immigrant ancestors. Useful appendices in each volume including: bibliographies of sources, maps and a glossary of terms.

List of lands granted by the Crown in the Province of Quebec from 1763 to 31st December 1890. Quebec: C. F. Langlois, printed by order of the legislature, 1891. /Gc 971.4 Q352L/

Répertoire toponymique du Québec, 1987. Québec: Gouvernement du Québec, 1987. /Gc 971.4 R299/ Locates approximately 100,000 place names of all types within a census division.

Thwaites, Reuben Gold, ed. The Jesuit relations and allied documents: Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in New France, 1610-1791. 73 vols. Cleveland: Burrows Bros., 1896 1901. Index in v.72-73. /Gc 971 J49/

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Research Guides

Auger, Roland-J. "Tracing Ancestors through the Province of Quebec and Acadia to their place of Origin in France", French Canadian and Acadian Genealogical Review, vol. II, no. 4, Winter

1969, pp. 259-78. Quebec: Centre Canadien des Recherches Genealogiques. /Gc 971.005 F887/ An excellent guide to the wealth of Quebec and Acadian manuscript sources. Includes numerous references to published inventories and indexes.

Boudreau, Dennis M. Beginning Franco-American Genealogy. Pawtucket, RI: American-French Genealogical Society, 1986. /Gc 929.171 B66b/

Geyh, Patricia Keeney. French Canadian Sources: A Guide for Genealogists. Orem, UT: Ancestry Publishing, 2002. /Gc 971.4 F887/

Normandeau-Jones, Lea. Finding Your Acadian Ancestors. Toronto, Ontario: Heritage Productions, 2001. /Gc 971 N789f/

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Researchers should consult the PERiodical Source Index (PERSI) for relevant articles available in the Genealogy Department. Several search options may net consequential data. First, one can search the surname section under the family name being researched. One can also use the “Search for U. S. and Canadian Articles by Location and Keyword” option for a listing of many other articles. Key French language periodical sources are described below.

Le Bulletin des recherches historiques. Lévis, Québec: A. Roy, 1895-1968. 70 vols. /Gc 971 B87/ A goldmine of anecdotal articles and genealogical essays. For an index covering 1895-1925 see /Gc 971 B87a/.

Memoires de la Societe Genealogique Canadienne-Francaise. Montreal: 1944-current /Gc971.4 SO1255m/ A 2 vol. name index to vols. 1-26 (1944-75) contains 140,000 references. Indexed at /Gc971.4 SO1225ma/.

Rapport de l'Archiviste de la Province de Quebec. 54 vols. Queens Printer, 1920-77. (defunct) /Gc 971.4 Q354a/ These reports contain data published from manuscripts in the archives. Major series include: censuses 1666-1805; lists of militia officers 1641-1760, and fur-trade employees 1788-1822; genealogies; and bibliographies of family and parish histories.

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Catalog Use

Check the online catalog, found at, under the family name for compiled

genealogies, and under the name of the parish, town or county for local histories and other records pertaining to families of a particular area. Many references can also be found under Acadians, French, and Quebec as subjects.

Remember that important French-Canadian sources are available only on microfilm or microfiche. Check the microtext catalog drawers labeled Canadian, French Canadian, and Canadian Census for lists of holdings.

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