The national library of France - la Bibliothèque national de France - being the library of deposit as well as the national collection, is vast. The Richelieu branch, in the Second Arrondissement of Paris, was the main library until the new one of four glass towers was built out in the Thirteenth Arrondissement during François Mitterand's presidency. The ultra modern new library is named for that president, but is always referred to as Tolbiac, for the road that runs by it.
A French genealogist could enter to do research and never be able to finish and leave. Typing the word "généalogie" into general catalogue of the entire library brings up almost 45,000 works, from heraldry to family genealogies to genealogy guides.
Buried in this glorious heap, at the Richelieu building, are microfilms of manuscripts of the few early parish registers of Paris that have survived. These really are smatterings, and we would not encourage anyone to go through the usual hoops necessary to get inside and view the film unless it is with a fair amount of certainty of success. Unless, like us, you would do anything to be able to use that reading room, la salle Ovale, (top photo), where the microfilm readers are located.
Below are the Paris parishes, years and registrations that can be found at Richelieu:
marriages for 1785-1791
baptisms, marriages and burials for 1531-1712
baptisms for 1692-1693
marriages for 1544-1651 and for 1719-1725
extracts of registrations for 1604-1714
extracts of registrations for 1528-1724
- La Madeleine*
To give an idea of how slim are the pickings, those marked with an asterisk are all on the same roll of film, which is so short that it barely consumes one fourth of the thickness available on the plastic bobbin. However, for the lucky ones, this is where they will find their Parisian ancestors.
Bibliothèque nationale de France - Richelieu
5, rue Vivienne
hours: 10.00 - 18.00, Monday to Friday
telephone (+33) 01 53 79 82 80
You will need to register and pay for a reader's card before you can use the library, which is NOT air conditioned.
©2010 Anne Morddel