Genealogy in France! How to do it perfectly right.

If you are looking for ancestors in France, there are many great databases for genealogy in France which will help you to find your family.

Archives départementales du Haut-Rhin:

http://www.archives.haut-rhin.fr

Archives départementales du Bas-Rhin:

http://archives.bas-rhin.fr

Archives de Strasbourg:

https://archives.strasbourg.eu

Just to name a few.

There are other websites that could help a lot like free genealogy website:

https://www.familysearch.org

Then you can also use paid genealogy databases options like

https://www.ancestry.com

https://www.myheritage.com

One main problem about genealogy in France is also to find the first hint. You might have a name and a place but you don’t have the exact birth date, which can make the search very difficult.

For example in the archives of Paris you have to comb through all TWENTY neighborhoods, and every arrondissement of Paris has thousands of entries for every year.

No matter if you look for a birth, death or marriage certificate, it’s not easy if you don’t have that one clue that brings you closer to what you are looking for.

So the first task will always be to find some clues. 🙂

A good idea is to start at https://www.familysearch.org, https://www.ancestry.com or https://www.myheritage.com. Often you will not find your relatives immediately, but that doesn’t mean that there are no records of them. It’s quite the opposite. Those old records are very often not available in any of the above mentioned commercial Genealogy databases, but in local french databases.

(Genealogy in France)


Old handwritten language translator:

Now there is another problem: Especially old records are written in a barely readable handwritten language. Often they are also in German and/or French, when you look closer to the German-French border. This means you need to be able to read (very) old handwritten language (cursive script) and then also understand several languages. To my knowledge there’s no handwritten language translator… 🙂

Genealogy in France
Genealogy in France – old script language

Nevertheless there are some websites that can help you to read those documents, but believe me, it’s not easy. Just try to read the old records in the screenshot above… 🙂

An excerpt from Wikipedia:

“Kurrent is an old form of German-language handwriting based on late medieval cursive writing, also known as Kurrentschriftdeutsche Schrift (“German script”) and German cursive. Over the history of its use into the first part of the 20th century, many individual letters acquired variant forms.”

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurrent

(Genealogy in France)


Name changes:

It happens very often in France (especially Alsace) that names of villages got changed, because they once belonged to Germany and then to France – and then again to Germany and did finally end up in France.

E.g. Saint-Blaise-la-Roche is the same town as Heiligblasien, even though they seem to be two totally different ones.

The same is true for names of people. Schaedelin and Châtelain are the same name. Some genealogy website are able to do phonetic searches, but in this case that just doesn’t work at all.

It’s actually the same with first names. Karl (German) and Charles (French) are still relatively similar, but Heinrich and Jacques do not even sound similar.

The following is a really funny article – only in German – about those nasty name changes in Alsace: https://www.welt.de/debatte/article113519182/Wie-aus-Herrn-Lagarde-Herr-Kuh-wurde.html

(Genealogy in France)


Missing records:

Often you will experience the problem that some years have gone missing in local databases (Actes d’état civil en ligne). If that happens you need to search for other clues, for example in old local magazines or sometimes available private databases.

No matter how you do it, you often have to follow several leads.

In our last research project, we went from the present back to the past by following leads based on locations, but that didn’t work. Actually we were able to find a relative of our research subject in a specific town, but that wasn’t the correct one.

Then we started in the past with someone with the correct name in the correct won and were working towards the present. Always cross-referencing all names and locations. After several days we did find someone who had the right last name, but not the first name did not match… At least he was also born at a similar time at the same place. After some more research we discovered that he had a brother. His parents finally connected the present and the past, and brought this project to a happy ending.

It’s always a great feeling when this happens!

For sure it’s also a lot of work… 🙂

(Genealogy in France)


If you need help to find your ancestors in France you can just use this (very cheap, but good) service: Fiverr: I will find your french ancestors!

(Genealogy in France)


Recently researched names: Zaepfel, Martin, Geiger, Bloch, Fehner, Faller, Adam, Gäbler, Depret (also Deprez, Depretz, Depreth), Haas (also Haaß), Abisch, Touzard, Soret, Wassmer, Maurer, Held, Schaedelin, Fuchs, Sutter, Sittler, Engasser, Gringer, Godefroy, Godfroy, Denis, Boucourt, Leprévaux, Leprêtre, Racine, Bouteiller, Godard.


Please have a look at https://big-apple.tv/2020/01/02/how-to-find-ancestors-in-france-awesome-genealogy-databases/

 

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