In France, to search for records on an ancestor, all is tied to where the event occurred: where the person was born, where married, where died, where buried. You need to know the commune or town for events after the Revolution, and the diocese and parish if before. Once you have the place, you can begin your research. The information will be in the Mairie (Town Hall) of the village or commune or city where the event happened. If the information is very old, it will be in the Archives Départementales of the département where the event occurred. The same holds true for old parish records, which are all held in the Archives Départementales.
What if you have only a name and no place of birth in France? What can you do? It will not be easy.
This will NOT solve your problem; it may only point you in the right direction.
- Which names have "disappeared" in that there were in the data from 1891 to 1940 but not from 1941 to 1990. (Many of these look to have been misspellings.)
- Unusual names, weird names, obscene names (this is a fun list to read if you know some French slang).
- The law concerning names (More on what I like to call the French "name police" in a future post.)
- A list of "New names" (the reverse situation of the first bulleted point)
- A long, scholarly historical discussion on names in general by language and region
- spelling statistics (somebody was playing too long with their computer programme here)
The site is free. It has numerous books for sale and summaries of birth and death information. It also links to www.genealogie.com, which is not free.
©2009 Anne Morddel