French Genealogy Research Toolkit

By Maureen A. Taylor Premium

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If you’re researching your French or French-Canadian ancestors, you may wonder where to turn first. Below are some handy resources to guide you as you make meaningful discoveries about your French genealogy.


Ancestral Research in France: The Simple Guide to Tracing Your Family History Through French Records by Patrick Pontet (self-published, send 23 British pounds to 31 Collingwood Walk; Andover Hampshire SP10 1PU)

Beginning Franco American Genealogy by Rev. Dennis M. Boudreau (American French Genealogical Society)

A Genealogist’s Guide to Discovering Your Immigrant & Ethnic Ancestors by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack (Betterway Books)

Guide to Quebec Catholic Parishes and Published Parish Marriage Records by Jeanne Sauve White (Clearfield Co.)

Huguenot Genealogies: A Selected Primary List by Arthur Louis Finnell (Clearfield Co.)

Immigrants to America from France and Western Switzerland, 1859-1866 by Clifford Neal Smith (Westland Publications)

In Search of Your Canadian Roots, 3rd edition, by Angus Baxter (Genealogical Publishing Co.)

The New Orleans French, 1720-1733: A Collection of Marriage Records Relating to the First Colonists of the Louisiana Province by Winston De Ville (Genealogical Publishing Co., out of print)


American — Canadian Genealogical Society

Located in Manchester, New Hampshire, this organization publishes American-Canadian Genealogist. Its site outlines membership criteria, research services, activities and library resources.

American French Genealogical Society

The American French Genealogy Society offers birth, marriage and baptism compilations. Members can also access the Je Me Souviens archive. At the AFGS site, you’ll find contact information for all its members, descriptions of its library materials, explanation of French genealogy-related terms and more useful links.

National Huguenot Society

This site contains a list of documented Huguenot ancestors, along with other online resources and publications. Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with any information requests.


Bibliotheque Nationale de France

Search the National Library of France’s holdings online.

Cyndi’s List: France

Cyndi’s List offers more than 300 links for exploring your French ancestry.

FamilySearch – France Genealogy

Serviced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, FamilySearch provides many free resources for finding your French ancestors. You can use its research guides to find birth and death records, census records and more. Some examples of resources include:

  • France Research Outline: The Family History Library’s guide to French genealogy offers step-by-step instructions and research strategies and discusses every type of genealogical record, immigration, heraldry, language, names and more. It’s a great reference for anyone tracing French ancestry.
  • French Genealogical Word List: Lists of French words and their translations are grouped by category. There’s also a short grammar primer on gender, spelling and accent marks.
  • French Letter-Writing Guide: If you don’t parlez francais, don’t worry. Family-Search’s guide walks you through the process of addressing and formulating a request letter for French records.
  • French Republican Calendar Research Outline: When was 12 Thermidor V? During its 18th-century revolution, France adopted a new calendar that was used in all government records. It marked time by the birth of the Republic and devised an entirely new set of months. This outline decodes the calendar and has tables for converting dates — in this case, July 30, 1797.

France Genealogy Links

Many of the pages linked to here are in French, but if you can read the language (or have a good dictionary on hand), you’ll find a mix of genealogical data and historical background. Links include databases of pre-1900 marriage records, those guillotined in the French Revolution and French emigrants to Quebec; French medieval genealogy and royal lines.


The GeneaGuide site has helpful articles on doing genealogical research in France.


Touted as one of the largest European genealogy websites with 5 million members and 1.8 million family trees, Geneanet allows you to add your own family tree and search existing ones.

This site offers French news, culture and travel guides related to France.

France GenWeb

French genealogists maintain this site as part of the World GenWeb project. Find links to genealogical societies, research facilities and telephone directories.


Denis Beauregard’s site for Franco-American and Canadian genealogy provides Web pages and contacts for more than 1,000 names. It also offers mailing lists and message boards, links and professional researchers for various regions of the Francophone world.

National Archives of Canada

You can search some of the archives’ holdings for your French Canadian ancestors — including 1.2 million files created by agencies of the Canadian government . Search results provide descriptions of the documents and tell how to find them if you visit the archives.

Roots Web’s Guide to Tracing Family Trees, Lesson 24

RootsWeb’s primer gives you the lowdown on finding Canadian, French Canadian, French and Acadian roots. Besides practical advice, the lesson also provides links for each group.

From the June 2001 issue of Family Tree Magazine

Last Updated: July 2023