We have long despaired that one cannot get easy access to the parish registers of the department of Finistère, that land's end part of western France whence so many Bretons went to the New World. The Departmental Archives of Finistère have, as yet, no website. They used to bluntly refuse to discuss the topic. For ages, there has been a tiny message on the general administrative website for the department's local government that the archives will have a website "soon".
Now, somewhat more than 95,000 parish registrations from 1772 to 1909 for the Finistère diocese of Quimper and Léon can be found on FamilySearch. This is delightful news!
At the time of this posting, FamilySearch has only six historical record collections for France, some more appropriately titled than others. In addition to the Quimper and Léon diocese registrations are:
- Protestant Church Records from 1536-1863 - These are said to come from the Bibliothèque de la Société de l'Histoire du Protestantisme Français, over which we have gushed here before.
- Parish registrations from the Diocese of Coutances, 1802-1907
- France Marriages, 1546-1924 - With only a million and a half records, half of which are too recent to be viewed in full, this is a most misleadingly entitled collection, or mish-mash more like. The same holds true for the two that follow.
- France Deaths and Burials, 1546-1960 - fewer than half a million records, but give it a shot; you could get lucky.
- France Births and Baptisms, 1546-1896 - Six and a half million records for three and a half centuries. We think a more appropriate title would include the word "smattering".
We recommend that you keep an eye on FamilySearch's French section. It seems to be moving from having only the almost fraudulently misleading to putting up some really quite useful records.
©2011 Anne Morddel