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Huguenot Hints

Huguenot CrossBy Syryatsu - Own work modified from File:Blason_ville_fr_Lacoste_(Vaucluse) .svg by User:Spedona, CC BY-SA 3.0,, modified by Morddel 27/06/2021


In the dozen years that we have been writing this chipper blog, the archivists in charge of the Departmental Archives websites (listed in our column to the left), in general, have gone from a curmudgeonly and sneering behaviour toward genealogists and family historians to one of beaming and open-armed welcome. They would appear to have discovered, Dear Readers, that we are the proverbial cash cow. Though the websites are free to use, the contractual agreements with commercial genealogy websites to index and link to them must be bringing in a pretty centime or two. Their statistics as to users, once probably dismal when counting only those bodies that crossed the archives thresholds, have soared when counting website hits, bringing job security and an attendant joy to all archives staff.

To keep things bounding along, all of the Departmental Archives, to a greater or lesser extent, depending upon their finances, have continued to film and digitize more of their collections, including documents relating to Protestants. Those where Protestantism forms a large part of the department's history (especially those in which can be found the four initial Protestant "strongholds" of La Rochelle, Montauban, Cognac and La Charité-sur-Loire) have had exhibitions on the topic, such as that of Charente-Maritime, which highlighted important documents. (Read this page to know of other stronghold cities.) As ever, terminology and website design vary slightly from one department to the next, so we offer a couple of small hints to aid you in your online research:

  • Generally, when searching for any pre-Revolutionary, e.g. ancien régime, baptism, marriage or burial record on a Departmental Archives website, one selects a town, or commune, first, then looks for the type of register. The Protestant registers have different names and might be called any of the following:
    • Le registre pastoral, or les registres pastoraux
    • Le registre protestant
    • Les registres au desert (or simply au desert, referring to the period after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, when Protestantism was banned)
    • Les registres des Consistoires
    • Les registres paroissiaux protestants
    • RPR (Religion Prétendue Réformée) or registres de l'église réformé. This will refer to Calvinist registers only, as differentiated from those of other Christian cultes, such as Lutherans (luthériens) or Mennonites (anabaptistes)
  • The interminable death throes of Flash, dragging on with as much noise and flame as ever was made by the dragon speared by Saint George, appear to have made access to some Departmental Archives websites difficult for those whose computers are not in France. The obvious solution is to use a VPN, such as Express VPN or Nord. Failing that, if you cannot access a website when you stoutly believe that you should be able to do so, try a different browser. We are not told which is the best but the worst is said to be Firefox.

Of course, you might try our booklet on the subject, for further research guidance.

As always, we wish you the best of luck. Bonne chance!

©2021 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy