In the Archives
A fair amount of Protestant documentation can be found in the National Archives, in series TT, but the bulk, such as it is can be found in the Departmental Archives and the communal archives, generally in series B, E, or U.
They are treated rather like the shutters above. In this time of great interest in archives and records for genealogical research, those in charge are, quite amazingly, still showing a tad of prejudice from centuries ago. We have spoken with a number of researchers who have asked to see the Protestant archives and have been told:
- there are none
- they are not catalogued or listed
- they have no ten-year indices or annual indices
- they have not been scanned and are certainly are not online
- they are in a box under a dripping pipe at the bottom of the stairs (honestly!)
This extends beyond the archives. A recent special number of Généalogie on religion from the 16th to the 19th centuries had in its 68 pages a single paragraph on Protestantism, Judaism and Islam. In France, La Religion is synonymous with catholicité.
On the Internet
In four languages, including English, this is the starting point for any Huguenot research. It was created and is maintained by the Association Généalogique Huguenots de France. It contains guidelines, sections on many regions, lists of names, explanations of events. The site is almost exclusively the work of one soft-spoken man, M. Roland Gennerat, whom we met at the conference earlier this year. He also created and maintains the following databases:
- Les pasteurs des Églises Protestantes de France a list of all known Protestant pastors in France. It is a work in progress but there are all ready nearly 12,000 names.
- Les temples protestants de France, a list of all protestant churches in France, including those that were destroyed, giving the address, the architect, whether there is an organ. (To correct a common misunderstanding: "temple" in French refers to a non-Catholic church, not to a synagogue, which is called a "synagogue".)
- Les cimetières protestants de France - a list of all Protestant cemeteries, their addresses, histories and, where possible, an index of the graves.
- The pages on La Rochelle are especially interesting.
- Biographies of well-known (to the French anyway) Protestants
This is a site more purely historical, but it runs a genealogy centre and its journal carries a number of articles on genealogy. It also maintains a list of museums devoted to the Huguenots. Theirs is probably the best library in France on the Huguenots.
Without question, the single most authoritative text on Huguenot genealogy in France is by Gildas Bernard and is entitled Les Protestants en France du XVIème siècle à 1792, guide des recherches biographiques et généalogiques. ( Les familles protestantes en France ). It was published in 1987, but nothing has bettered it.
Really, we must add here that there dozens of books in English on Huguenot history and Huguenot genealogy on the Internet Archive. In the search box, type either Huguenot or French Protestant and read the list.
As you begin your Huguenot research, it may be confusing if you do not know the following:
Protestant churches in French are referred to as temples.
Protestant faiths are all referred to as cultes.
"Protestant" is used much more often than "Huguenot".
© 2009 Anne Morddel