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Modern Baptism Registrations vs. the Acte de Naissance

 Modern Baptism Records pic
 Registre des Actes de Baptême de l'Eglise de Jacques de Haut Pas, Paris.  

Archives de Paris (D6J 7360)

Quite often, when a researcher is dissatisfied with a modern (eg. post-Revolutionary) French birth registration, un acte de naissance, he or she will begin to insist that the baptism registration for the same person will provide more information. It may, but usually will not. Since no one ever seems to believe us, we thought we would make a comparison here.

First, a clarification: before 1792, the only form of birth registration was the baptism registration. These pre-1792 registrations, registres paroissiaux,  are held in the Archives départementales and often are online. Since 1792, all births are required by law to be registered with the officier d'état civil at the mairie of the town where the child was born. Baptism is optional. Thus, pre-1792, the best birth documentation will be the baptism; after 1792, it will be the acte de naissance.

For our comparison, we have chosen Ernestine Minart, born the eleventh of November, 1895 in the 5th arrondissement (borough) of Paris and baptized in the local church of Saint-Jacques-du-Haut-Pas on the sixteenth of November. Here is her baptism entry in the church's register book for 1895 (click on all images to enlarge them):

Minart baptism 

Registre des Actes de Baptême de l'Eglise de Jacques de Haut Pas, Paris.  

Archives de Paris  (D6J 7360)

It gives:


  • the date of the baptism
  • the child's name
  • the date of birth
  • the names of both parents
  • the parents' address
  • the godparents' names
  • the godparents' addresses
  • signatures

To find sweet Ernestine's acte de naissance, we go to the website of the Archives de Paris (in the panel to the left) and click on the archives numérisées line:

Archives de P

 That takes you to where you can look at maps or the actes d'état civil:


 Choose the latter. From there, is the choice to go to the tables décennales or straight to the actes d'état civil

Table ou actes

Knowing all ready the name, date and arrondissement means that the tables décennales are not really necessary. Do not skip looking at them for there, one can often find siblings. Fill out the form:


The search brings up seventeen pages. Ernestine is on page seven, at the top:

TD Paris sample 1

  On page six, at the bottom, is a possible brother, Charles:

TD Paris sample 2

Finding a possible sibling like this cannot usually be done with the modern baptism records. Each register book often does have an alphabetical index at the back but, as it is only for that year, it is not as useful as the tables décennales for locating others of the same surname born in the same decade.

The baptism gave Ernestine's birth as the eleventh of November, and the table décennale shows the twelfth. The latter should be the date of the registration, and the one to be used in the search box for the acte d'état civil:

EC search



Remember to type the date the European way: day/month/year. This brings up 29 pages and Ernestine is on neither the eleventh nor the twelfth; her birth was registered on the thirteenth, saying she was born on the eleventh. Ah well, we found her. 



Paris birth ex



Here is the information offered by the acte de naissance with the marginal notes:



  • the full name and sex of the child
  • the date and hour of birth
  • the place of birth
  • the father's name, age and profession
  • the mother's name, age and profession
  • the fact that they were married
  • their residence
  • the identity, in glorious plenitude, of the officer who made the registration
  • the names, ages, and addresses of the two witnesses
  • signatures
  • when, where and to whom Ernestine was married
  • the date and place of her death

For genealogical purposes, the acte de naissance is much, much more useful. The baptism registration will help to complete documentation on a person, of course, and there is always the chance with any document of the discovery of something completely new, but it cannot compare with the acte de naissance. 


©2010 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy