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The French and Genealogy

French Genealogy Magazines


There are three main genealogy print magazines in France. Each is full size, glossy, from 50 to 80 pages long, full colour with lots of illustrations, and each takes advertisements.  All are available in local newsagents, though rarely at the corner kiosks, and all are national in coverage. Yet their differences are significant enough to warrant discussing each individually.


La revue française de Généalogie [& d'Histoire des familles] is the oldest, at 30 years, and its anniversary is celebrated in the most recent issue.  The founder, René-Louis Martin, had all ready started two other publications, one on coin collecting, the other a local daily newspaper in the Lorraine, when he began the revue. As his genealogy publication made no money at the beginning, he supported it with some of the profits of the other two. The magazine is now considered one of the two most important on the subject in France.


Each issue contains news of genealogy meetings and events around the country. Unlike the others, it also prints notices of family reunions, by surname. There are book reviews, website reviews, classified advertisements, etc. A regular feature of some charm is the column by Pierre-Gabriel Gonzalez, "nom de famille", in which readers send in requests to know the origin of certain surnames, such as Arluison or Beuneu. Gonzalez replies first with statistics as to how many households in France use the name, then with its history and variations. 


There are usually two or three substantial articles. The most recent issue contained a discussion of the efforts of the Archives Départementales to modernize their facilities and to digitize their collections, a subject of enormous interest and importance. (See my two previous posts.) Other articles discuss the family history of France's theatrical dynasties and some movie stars, as well as websites and Cyber-généalogie.  The reigning prince and the man who gives the magazine its flavour is not the editor, but the primary guest contributor, Jean-Louis Beaucarnot, respected author of many genealogy books.

Généalogie Magazine is not quite as glossy as the other two, being printed on recylced paper, but is just as attractive. Though there is a nice little regular page of advice for genealogy beginners, most of this publication is dedicated to book reviews and coupons for clipping and ordering said books. There are long articles on French actresses, a recent issue had one on the French ancestors of President Obama. Perhaps the most unexpected is a continuing series on the family of Laura Ingalls Wilder. The television show, "La petite maison dans la prairie", had an even greater success in France than it had elsewhere and interest in the author of the books on which it was based verges on the point of obsession. The article is full of details about the family and corrections of the television version of the story. Back to genealogy, there is also a discussion of heraldic devices and a regular feature dealing with the difficulties of paleography.

Votre Généalogie At 82 pages, this is the biggest of the three magazines. It opens with a few pages of news and brief announcements from "clubs", e.g. local genealogical and family associations.  There is also a lesson in deciphering old handwriting, with exercises and corrections. However, there is very good advice on the language of the old actes (birth, marriage, death registrations). Also quite useful is an article on how best to preserve old photographs.


Then the reader is plunged into six pages of a scholarly discussion of the illness, depression, throughout history. This is followed by a fairly thorough study of new internet genealogy resources. The issue is dominated by a very long article on life in the 1930s, from the historical events, to the daily activities, to a large table of population statistics. Articles on the history of seals for documents and on the craft of millinery round things off.


Somehow, of the three, I prefer this last. It is meatier. Its historical articles are to the point and would be of interest to all genealogists who pursue their research not only to trace their bloodlines but also out of a love for history. Its practical discussions are few, but very well written and actually contain some helpful pointers. It is not, however, for those who cannot stomach the tone of the snooty academic.

La revue française de Généalogie
  • Best for information on the departmental archives and internet developments. 
  • Worst on general history. 
Editorial Offices
8, rue de l'Hôpital-Saint-Louis
75010 Paris

tel: (00 33) 1 53 3846 45
fax: (00 33) 1 53 38 46 40

Subscriptions Office
10, avenue Victor-Hugo
55800 Revigny-sur-Ornain

fax: (00 33) 3 29 70 57 44

Subscription price - only the price for France is given: 39€ per year gives you 6 issues and 2 special issues. Send a query for the overseas price.


Généalogie Magazine
  • Best for book reviews.
  • Best for articles on famous people's families.
  • Worst on practical advice. 
Editorial and Subscription Offices
éditions Christian
14, rue Littré
75006 Paris
Overseas Subscriptions - 62€ per year gives you 11 issues.

Votre Généalogie 
  • Best for practical advice
  • Best for general history 
  • Worst for internet genealogy advice.
Editorial and Subscription Offices
74, rue du Gros Chêne
54410 Laneuveville

tel: (00 33) 3 83 57 91 06
fax: (00 33) 3 83 51 20 08

Subscription price - only the price for France is given: 27.50€ per year gives you 6 issues. Send a query for the overseas price. You can also buy past issues for 6€ each, or all 28 of of them on a CD for 49.95€.

©2009 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy