Researching Your Ancestors Online

at the 95 Departmental Archives in France


In this class you will learn how to research your ancestors using the 95 free online departmental Archives. 

First we will locate the Commune or town where they lived.

Then we will learn how to search for baptisms, marriages and burials in either the Catholic churches or the Huguenot Temples.

We will do some basic translation of the French to English.

Since we typically are researching the people that populated New France or Quebec we will focus on the period before the 1796 French Revolution changes to record keeping in France.

Note: Use  CTRL + several times to size the document





The research process of French Canadian and Acadian ancestors in France by North American family lineage researchers often results in failures because of the following reasons:

>> Family name - Wrong spelling - As a point in case the Gagné ancestors, Pierre and Louis Gagné who settled in Château-Richer, a few miles east of Quebec City in 1648 and 1654 were not Gagné in France but Gasnier - Same pronunciation, different spelling. But online family searches in France are conducted under the name Gasnier, not Gagné

>> Family lineages in New France - Wrong family lineages with wrong results as to who was in fact one's true ancestor - Too many North American family lineage researchers rely on postings online on Ancestry, RootsWeb and similar online offerings.

>> COMMUNES - (Villages, towns, townships, cities) - The villages, towns, townships, cities from which an ancestor or ancestors originated from  is the ''primary key'' in order to determine precisely the true family lineage in France of ancestors of New France (Nouvelle France) and Acadia (Acadie)






Insee numbers for Dept and commune  E.G. 17300 is for La Rochelle  Dept=17 Commune=300

               It is different from the Post Office Number


We will address the 95 Archives Départementales de France - In 90 or 92 of the regional archives one can research Catholic acts of baptisms from 1539 and from 1579 in regard to acts of marriages and deaths until 1796.


The latter date being when the Civil Registers of France were instituted at the French Revolution.













But first in order to properly begin a successful family lineage search or searches in France, one must know precisely who was one's ancestor with the proper spelling.

Three favorite sources are:

Fichier Origine –

René Jetté - Dictonnaire généalogique des familles du Québec – Book

                     Denis Beauregard - 

P.R.D.H. -  

In all three of the above, the place of origin of an ancestor, is the place and date of the baptism of the pioneer being researched and online searches conducted at 92 of the 95 Archives départementales of France are carried out by the names of COMMUNES (villages, towns, townships, cities)

In  regard to ancestor Pierre Gasnier (Gagné)
His place of birth being the village of Igé, Parish of Saint-Martin), a village also referred to as Saint-Martin d'Igé within modern day ''département'' of Orne.

A question being asked, why limit your search process to the 95 Archives départementales of France, simple; in 92 of these Archives the online research process is FREE to all researchers in family lineage searches and all commercial online search engines in France obtain most of their information from said 95 Archives départementales.



The Top 31 Départments from which French Canadians and Acadians originated from 1604 onward were in order of importance:

>> Charente-Maritime – 832 persons in Fichier Origine

>> Seine-Maritime

>> Manche

>> Vendée

>> Vienne

>> Orne

>> Calvados

>> Côte-d'Armor

>> Charente

>> Deux-Sèvres

>> Ille-et-Villaine

>> Côtes-d'Arrmor

>> Sarthe

>> Indre-et-Loire

>> Maine-et-Loire

>> Gironde

>> Loire-Atlantique

>> Loir-et-Cher

>> Yvelines

>> Paris

>> Côte-d'Or

>> Eure

>> Somme

>> Finistère

>> Haute-Marne

>> Mayenne

>> Yonne

>> Aisne

>> Pyrénées-Atlantiques

>> Haute-Saône

>> Rhône – 50 in Fichier Origine

From this point-on, only 15% or about of French Canadian and Acadian ancestors originated from.



As always, any searches I conduct in France begins with Fichier Origine.

A highly reliable second source are the books by René Jetté

The third most reliable source being P.R.D.H.



Websites of Maps and department information

Map of the Ancient Provinces of France (1610 to 1789)

Ancient Provinces of France with their modern day Departments and capitals

Regions and Departments of France and maps

Map of France Departments and Cities

Cassini Map of France about 1745 - Click on NAVIGATION and then RECHERCHER UN LIEU and then CARTE

Description of data available at the 95 department archives

Most French Canadians and Acadians originated from the ancient provinces of France prior to the French Revolution.

Family lineage searches in France are no longer carried-out online or at various archives of France under ancient provinces of France but under modern-day departments.

The ancient province of Normandie produced the largest number of pioneer families among French Canadians and Acadians.

Normandie today is: Seine-Maritime, Eure, Calvados, Orne, Manche and the portion of the ancient province of Perche, region of modern-day Mortagne-au-Perche.

Once a family lineage researcher in North America accepts the fact that family lineage searches are carried out today by departements and not by ancient provinces, half of the battle is won.

The 95 Archives départementales de France with their online offerings are carried-out online by names of communes (villages, towns, townships, cities) but not by family names or names of individuals.










The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah from about 1952 reached agreements with about 60% to 65% of the Catholic Dioceses and Archdioceses of France and subsequently a few years later with a similar percentage among the 95 Archives départementales of France.

In the two agreements, the Mormon Church in France agreed to send Mormon Missionaries to various regions of France in order to photograph Church Registers (Parish Registers) stored at various regional archives of France and in some rare cases within various Catholic Archdiocese or/and Diocese Archives.

The attached is the result of over 60 years of partnership between FamilySearch of Salt Lake City and various Dioceses and Archdioceses of France plus about 65% of the Archives départementales of France.

The agreement reached in 1950 or about, only applied to parish registers to be photographed and reproduced on microfilms.






Six or seven years back, the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in France reached a new agreement with Catholic Dioceses, Archdioceses, Archives départementales of France in order to digitize the large collection of microfilms stored at the Mormon Library in Salt Lake City.

Presently millions of acts of Catholic Church Registers of France are being digitized in order to offer said Parish Registers of Catholic Parishes online at

Until the process of digitization is completed one can order microfilms from their local Family History Center.







Class Nov.11, 2017 – Researching 95 Departments Online in France ONLINE SEARCHES in 95 Depts in FRANCE FINAL.htm


Researching in the 95 Departments of France

Translating French Baptismal Records

The top 10 Departments for French Canadians

See a map of the top 10 Departments

Examples of Baptisms to Locate

Click Here to Research Departmental Archives Online

Always select État civil or Civil Status for Parish or Temple records




Search Date



Insee number

Found on Page



Poissant, Jacques

Bap 4 Aug 1661




533 of 632



Dastout, Pierre

Bap 4 Feb 1701


St Medard













Tessier/Texier, Pierre

Bap 10 Apr 1695

L’ile d-Yeu

St Saveur


12 of 84



Bernard, Jean

19 Feb 1705


St Jean Bte


3 of 105



Hocquart, Gilles

28 Jul 1695


Ste Croix


40 of 99



Gouget, Jacques

12 May 1726


St Pierre


62 clicks of 163



Grignon, Julien

21 May 1722


St Pierre


106 of 417











Bernier, Andre

24 Jul 1663


St Andre


31 of 147

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