Protestants & Huguenots

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

Archives d'Etat de Genève - A Guest Post


Our good friend, the genealogist, Isabelle Haemmerle, has been doing more work in Geneva and sends this on the Archives d'Etat de Genève, the State Archives of Geneva:

Remember, we met a few weeks ago in the old town of Geneva while visiting the International Museum of the Reformation on rue du Cloître. From this point, our steps take us today around the historical Cathedral Saint Pierre, a regional landmark, then past the Jet d'eau, and we follow rue de la Taconnerie and turn right entering rue de l'Hôtel de Ville. At the corner with rue du Puit Saint Pierre, we arrive at the ancient Arsenal where its five canons proudly stand in memory of Geneva's fortifications - and we enthusiastically climb the stairs to the Archives d'Etat de Geneve (AEG) where are to be found the Archives of the Republic and Canton of Geneva.


The access to the consultation room is easy : while we are supposed to leave our belongings outside in the corridor, there is no control and we are pleasantly welcomed by the archivist in a cosy room full of history and not only that in the archive documents. We fill a form with a few details about our search subject and title and here we are, ready to order the registers we need and guided by a helpful archivist.

Before starting a search, it is wise to check the file of all the family names - available online - studied in :

  • The seven volumes of Notices généalogiques sur les familles genevoises by J.A. GALIFFE
  • The three volumes dedicated to Geneva in Recueil généalogique suisse, les Généalogies genevoises by A. CHOISY
  • Les Filiations protestantes by E. BUNGENER.

Manuscript genealogies – not always reliable! - are to be traced in the Fichier des Manuscrits historiques.

Very helpful also is to check the website of Swiss family names, which lists the families who held in 1962 citizenship of a Swiss commune (village, town or city). It gives for each family name the following information:

  • The commune of origin and if a member of the bourgeoisie
  • The date of bourgoisie acquisition
  • The previous place of origin ( France or other location, ex. NE for Neuchatel)

Place of origin is important in Switzerland. Even today, it is not unusual for every administrative form to ask for the person's origin, even for Swiss people. This focus on origin in documentation can help the genealogist.

A Swiss person is a bourgeois of a commune and canton (state) before being a Swiss citizen. (Read an explanation of the bourgeois status as it was applied in Paris here.) This right is transmitted by heritage and a Geneva inhabitant whose ancestors have been in Geneva for generations can still hold his origin from another commune (in Argovie or Apenzell, for example) even though his family has not been living there for a century. The Registre des Familles of this commune will indicate the birth of his children without the parent or children ever having touched its soil. Some families have more than one communes d'origine.

For Geneva genealogy, an interesting tool, the Registre unique de tous les citoyens, constitutes the basis of the citizenship rights for all families installed in Geneva (in both the city and the surrounding area) (Bourgeoisie A 15, available on line). The Genevian revolution of 1792 abolished all differences between citizens, bourgeois, natives, inhabitants of the city and subjects of the country and all categories were given full  citizenship in Geneva, provided that they were born of a Protestant father. Following the constitution of 1794, old and new citizens were to be registered in the Registre Unique which replaces the older livres de bourgeoisie and livres d'habitation.

Our discovery of AEG has only just started and you shall know more very soon about the resources available:

Birth or baptism, marriage, and death or burial records:

  • Registres des paroisses ( mid-sixteenth to eighteenth centuries) 
  • Registres d'état civil ( nineteenth and twentieth centuries) 

These registers have been digitized and are available up to the year 1885 on the AEG Adhemar database

  • Registre des familles 
  • Répertoires 
  • Communes Réunies

Further resources :

  • Notaires (contracts and other family legal documents)
  • Juridictions Civiles (civil judgements)
  • Consistoire, Compagnie de pasteurs (Protestant church records)
  • Titres et droits (Titles and the rights to use them)
  • Cadastre, registre foncier (Land records)
  • Recensements (Census records)
  • Passeports (Passport applications)
  • Etrangers (Records concerning the monitoring and registration of foreigners)
  • Bourgeoisie, Naturalisations (Citizenship rights records)
  • Militaire (Military conscription records)
  • Archives privées (Private archives)

Archives d'Etat de Genève

Rue de l'Hôtel-de-Ville 1

Case postale 3964

CH-1211 Genève 3

Tel. +41 22 327 93 20 - fax +41 22 3279321


Thank you again, Isabelle!

Those who wish to contact Isabelle to know more about genealogy in Geneva may do so by writing to her at: genhaemm (AT) gmail (DOT) com

©2014 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy