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July 2009

The Archives of French Algeria

With great fanfare recently, the Archives nationals d'outre-mer (the National Archives of the Overseas Territories), which is located in the south of France, announced the completion of the digitization of the civil and parish records for all French in Algeria from 1830 to 1904. They can now be viewed online, with a superb clarity.


The French ruled Algeria from 1830 to 1962, when the former colony won its independence after a long and bitter war. During the colonial years, thousands of Europeans emigrated to Algeria. After independence, thousands of French Algerians left the country for France and other parts of the world. Until now, the lack of easy access to these records, (except for those mad fools who wished to spend their magnificent French Riviera holiday in the archives), has been a lacuna for genealogists tracing ancestors in French Algeria. Delightfully, the Algerian records, coupled with the optant records described in the previous post, together can make for some significant discoveries.


To use the French Algerian archives, click on the link, which brings you to a blue opening page.  Click on the acronym IREL (online search tool). 


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Then, click on état civil Registres paroissiaux et d'état civil numerisés. This brings you to a page with a map. For the time being, the only region's records available are those of French Algeria. Thus, either the search box or the map will finally take you to where you can type in a name.


As a random example, we chose the Alsatian name, Krauth, and typed that into the search box. It brought us two pages of people named Krauth, 34 records of births, deaths, and marriages. 


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We chose Florent. We found his marriage, in Haussonvillers, 1887, to Eve Friand, and the birth of his children. His marriage record was full of information.


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It reveals that he was born in Niederschaeffolsheim, Alsace,  the 6th of November, 1846. That he had reached the age of majority, and was the legitimate son of Michel, who died in Niederschaeffolsheim the 21st of January, 1855. His mother, Madeleine Keller, was still living in the  village and had sent a letter giving her consent to the marriage. Finally, Florent was a widower, whose wife, Anne Wiennert, had died the previous year in Haussonvillers. The following page goes on to give a similar amount of information on the bride, who was born in Moselle. Some of the witnesses were relatives also.


Going now to the site of, described in the previous post, we can type in the surname, Krauth. The resultant list has 32 optants of the name, three from Niederschaeffolsheim. 


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It would now be possible to order the optant booklets from the genealogical society, CDHF, and to write to the Mairie at Niederschaeffolsheim and ask for a number of further documents.


In the past, one pitied those genealogists researching families from Alsace or French Algeria. Now, they are rather to be envied.


©2009 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy