France, Genealogy, Research tips

The National Archives of France

The National Archives of France is not the most advanced institution in terms of its digitized holdings, however, if you are researching French culture and history, you should be aware of it, and it may be helpful if your French ancestors were among the upper classes.

The Archives nationales (France) is making efforts to facilitate its online research process. You can find an introduction to the catalogue online in French, English and Spanish, and access it from there. For English, see http://www.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr/en/web/guest/salle-des-inventaires-virtuelle. Also go to http://www.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr/en_GB/web/guest/faire-une-recherche

Examples of the archives’ holdings include maps, photographs, documentation from the two world wars, and the records of Paris notaries. In addition, the archives has research centres focusing on topics such as place names and heraldry.

For many years, people with French Canadian or Acadian family lineages who wanted to know more about the research process in France have asked me whether the Archives nationales (France) in Paris was the place to conduct a family search. I have always replied that, if your ancestors in France were considered as nobility (familles nobles), yes, the Archives nationales de France is an online address you should consider. To check out the archives’ holdings on the ”bourgeois families” of France prior to the French Revolution, see https://www.siv.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr/siv/rechercheconsultation/consultation/pog/consultationPog.action?pogId=FRAN_POG_05&existpog=true&preview=false

However, if your ancestor was from the working class, you should conduct your online searches in the 95 Archives départementales de France. See my article https://genealogyensemble.com/2018/09/23/finding-ancestors-in-french-municipal-archives/

At the bottom of the following Archives nationales page, you will find links to a number of sites related to genealogy in France: http://www.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr/web/guest/signets-sciences

For many years the navigation process on the Archives nationales site was burdensome, and results posted from an online search would only indicate the dossier numbers (“fonds”) and a brief description of the fonds, followed by the ”série” (category of fonds) and the ”cote” (shelf  number). If you one wanted additional information on the content of a dossier, you had to send an email to Paris.

As of September, 2018, even if you find your family name, in order to access the biographical material of that family, you must visit the Archives nationales (France) in Paris. To further complicate matters, the Archives nationales has more than one repository in Paris, and you must first determine in which repository the records you want to see are kept. You also need to determine the spelling of the family name in France at the time. For example, my name, Gagné, was spelled Gasnier.

french-canadian, Genealogy, Loyalists, Quebec, Research tips

Tips on Researching Gaspé Ancestors

Over the centuries, Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula has been home to a mix of residents including the Micmac First Nations people, French settlers, Acadians and Loyalists. The Gaspé is surrounded by water on three sides — the estuary of the St. Lawrence River, the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Bay of Chaleur – so in the past, many Gaspé residents made their living by fishing, however, the fishing industry has changed and suffered in recent years. The interior of the peninsula features mountains, forests and rivers.

If you had ancestors from the Gaspé, the idea of researching their lives might seem daunting. It is a long way from central Canada, and many people in the region do not speak English today. However, there are a number of databases and other resources online, and you can contact the archives there to ask for help.

The attached PDF has links to a variety of resources, including background on the Loyalists who came from the United States after the revolution and settled in the area. The major part of this document lists the notaries who practised in the Gaspé. Their records should help you find your ancestors’ land transactions, business agreements, wills, inventories, and other records.

One of the best researchers to have studied the people of the Gaspé was Michel Émard, a medical doctor, historian and author. This research guide tells you where to find the books he wrote. It also tells you how to contact the main archives serving the area.

Here is the link to the PDF: notaries of the gaspé peninsula guide

Genealogy, New France, Quebec, Research tips, Resources Outside of Montreal

Seigneuries of the Charlevoix and the Saguenay

Beginning in 1535, long before the establishment of Nouvelle France by Samuel de Champlain, Europeans traded goods for furs with the indigenous people in the region referred to as the Royaume (kingdom) du Saguenay (1535-1842).

For centuries, the fur traders had complete control of the Saguenay River and the Lac-Saint-Jean regions of Quebec. Because the fur industry was so dominant, farming was forbidden in the Lac-Saint-Jean area until the 1850s.

The Charlevoix refers to the area of boreal forest along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, northeast of Quebec City, including present-day towns such as La Malbaie. The Saguenay River, which flows south from Lac Saint-Jean, enters the St. Lawrence near the village of Tadoussac.

 

Mouth of the Saguenay River at Tadoussac; Janice Hamilton photo

The attached research guide lists the fur trading companies that operated in Nouvelle-France and Québec, from the first such company established in France in 1614 to the Hudson Bay Company in 1854.

In 1835, 1,830 young farmers from the south shore of the St. Lawrence and the Charlevoix region signed a petition sent to Governor Archibald Acheson of Gosford, requesting access to lands in the Lac-Saint-Jean region. When Acheson and later governors did not react to the petition, many young Quebecers moved to the New England States and other parts of the United States in order to seek jobs.

In the late 1850s, the fur trade declined and the fur trading companies lost their political influence. Finally, the Lac-Saint-Jean and upper Saguenay areas were opened to agriculture, however, by this time, the seigneurial system had been abolished across Quebec.

This 23-page PDF includes a list of the seigneurs and business leaders who controlled the Charlevoix and Saguenay areas for almost two centuries. It lists regional cemeteries and briefly describes the counties and towns in the area. It includes a list of the fur trading companies that operated in the region and a list of the notaries who prepared documents such as business contracts and wills. At the end of the guide you will find contact information for the archives and historical societies found in these regions.

See the research guide here: seigneuries of charlevoix, chicoutimi and saguenay

 

 

french-canadian, Genealogy, New France, Online learning, Quebec, Research tips, Resources Outside of Montreal

Jacques Gagné’s Research Interests in 2018 and 2019

2018 was a busy year for genealogy researcher Jacques Gagné, so if you missed any of his posts, here is a recap of his work and a look ahead to 2019.

For many years, Jacques was a volunteer researcher at the Quebec Family History Society, so he has a broad knowledge of genealogical records in Quebec. He is particularly knowledgeable about resources at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), finding notarial records, searching for ancestors in France and anything to do with the Huguenots.

He is now on the far side of 80 and his eye sight is not what it used to be, so the amount of research he has accomplished for Genealogy Ensemble is all the more impressive. He is passionate about what he does and he just keeps pushing ahead. The list of projects he would like to do in the future is almost as long as the list of his past achievements.

                 Jacques Gagné

Jacques’ work is actually a collective effort. He does all the hard work of exploring the Internet and putting together the research guides, while Claire Lindell and Janice Hamilton (me) revise them, edit the introductions and post everything online. I took a year off between the spring of 2017 and April 2018, which is why there is a gap in his posts.

The major research guides posted in 2018 focused on one main theme: the seigneuries of Quebec. From the time New France was created in the 1600s until the mid-1800s, most land in Quebec was owned by a few individuals known as seigneurs. They were usually French aristocrats, wealthy merchants or military leaders. Most ordinary Quebecers were tenant farmers living on the seigneuries. Jacques identifies the seigneurs and seigneuries in each region, and the notaries who practised there. He also includes a list of cemeteries in each area and repositories for archival material and other resources.

Another post from 2018 was a list of notaries who practised in the years after Quebec came under British rule, between 1760 and 1848. He also put together research tips for finding Huguenot ancestors in France, tips for searching at the BAnQ and French municipal archives, and a heads up on a wonderful online resource, the New France Archives from Library and Archives Canada, nouvelle-france.org.

Jacques has been hard at work for several months on a new series of guides for 2019 on the merchants, ship owners and fur traders of New France. This series looks at the men who did business in New France. Many of them were born in France but married and died in North America, and some were also notaries or played other important roles in the new world. The series includes a post about their ports of departure and their trading partners back in France, as well as background on the trading companies they were associated with.

He is also working on a new series of posts updating his old research guide to the Irish Catholic churches of Quebec (https://genealogyensemble.com/2014/05/20/irish-catholic-churches-of-quebec/). Meanwhile, guides to ancestors in the Charlevoix and Gaspe regions, and more tips on searching in France are coming soon.

If you missed some of Jacques’ past compilations, or are having trouble finding something you noticed several months ago, our blog has several features that makes searching easy.

On the right hand side of the screen, under the Geneabloggers logo and before Categories, there is a Search box. Enter any terms that you might think will take you to a post you are trying to find, such as the name of a region, as well as Gagné. (It will work without the accent.) If you find an article of interest and open it up to its full length, you will find suggestions for related articles at the bottom of the page.

You can also look down that column on the right of your screen until you come to Jacques’ name (it is the fourth name in the list) and click on it. You can then scroll backwards through all his posts. When you get to the bottom of a page, click on Older Posts.

Finally, below all the authors’ names on the right is a search function called Archives. It brings up all our posts from each month.

Thank you for following us since 2014, and good luck with your research in 2019.

Genealogy, Quebec, Research tips, Resources Outside of Montreal

Townships of Pontiac, Gatineau Counties, plus the Township of Hull

Prior to the arrival of the first European settlers, the area around the Gatineau hills of Quebec, north and west of Ottawa, was the home of the Anishnabe Algonquin First Nations people. Between about 1800 and 1900, western Quebec was settled by British, American, Irish Protestant, Scottish, Irish Catholic, French Canadian and Germanic families. The Germanic settlers had a strong presence in this region. To my knowledge, there were few Loyalists or Huguenots.

Prior to 1845, people and goods were transported primarily by barge along the Ottawa River, which separates Quebec and Ontario. The steamboat that operated on the Ottawa River between Montreal and Ottawa could not manage the rapids between Carillon and Grenville, so in 1854, the Carillon and Grenville Railway, a short 12-mile-long portage railway, was organized.

Prior to 1845, when they purchased land, finalized business deals or wrote their wills, the settlers of western Quebec likely dealt with notaries from Montreal, and perhaps those in Vaudreuil and Rigaud. The section of this compilation that lists notaries begins in 1845, since the Judicial District of Hull was a late-comer among judicial districts across the province.

Today, this region is well served by two superb archives and four regional genealogical societies. Contact details for all these places can be found in the attached compilation.

BAnQ Gatineau – Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec

LAC – Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa

OGS – Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society

SGO – Société de généalogie de l’Outaouais

Gatineau Valley Historical Society

Pontiac Archives (genealogy society, located in Shawville, QC)

See: Townships of Pontiac and Gatineau Counties plus the the township of Hull

The contents of this 23-page compilation are as follows:

Page 1  the settlers (including farmers, businessmen, militia officers, politicians)

Page 3  the counties in 1791

Page 4  the townships in chronological sequence

Page 11 regional cemeteries

Page 13 Outaouais region (a list of cities, towns, villages)

Page 14 description of notarial records

Page 15 the notaries

Page 22 area archives and genealogical resource centres

 

 

France, Genealogy, New France, Quebec, Research tips, Resources Outside of Montreal, United States

Research Help for French Louisiana Sources

There were strong ties between Quebec and Louisiana in the 18th century. Louisiana was then part of New France, having been established by the French to block the British from expanding their influence westward in North America.

Many settlers who went to the southern part of the United States originated from the same regions in France as the French Canadians and the Acadians. But few Quebec historians or genealogists have focused on the links between the families of New France and those who settled in Louisiana.

An example of someone with personal links to both places was Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil de Cavagnial, Marquis de Vaudreuil (1698-1778). His father was of noble descent, from the Languedoc region of France, and Pierre was born at Quebec, where his father served as governor-general of New France. Pierre served as governor of Louisiana from 1742 to 1753, and he was the last governor-general of New France, between 1755 and 1760.

Historian Mélanie Lamotte wrote an article about primary sources in North America and France for the early modern history of Louisiana when she was studying at the Cambridge University in the U.K. She currently teaches at Stanford University, and her  Stanford website describes this article, “A Guide to Early Modern French Louisiana Sources” as providing “much-needed guidance on identifying and using French Louisiana sources. It lists the sources available and investigates their nature, details of access, state of preservation, as well as their state of digitization. It also suggests potential uses and interpretations that might be gleaned from such source material.”

You can download Lamotte’s 26-page guide from either of these two sites:

http://stanford.academia.edu/M%C3%A9lanieLamotte

https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/1810/260104/Lamotte-2016-Collections_A_Journal_for_Museum_and_Archives_Professionals-VoR.pdf?sequence=1

french-canadian, Genealogy, New France, Quebec, Research tips

Researching the New France Archives

If your ancestors date back to Nouvelle France, as Quebec was known in its early days as a colony of France, you will be happy to hear about this wonderful New France research portal created by Library and Archives Canada. The New France Archives site can be found at http://nouvelle-france.org

The project brings together results from four archives in France and Canada: LAC – Library Archives Canada / Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, A.N.O.N – Archives nationales d’outre-mer (France), Archives nationales (France) and BAnQ – Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec. It also accesses digitized documents in several other governmental and private archives centres.

Researchers with French Canadian, Acadian, Franco-American, Franco-Manitoban, Cajun, and Huguenot heritage will be able to use this one search engine, and voilà. The collection may not help with genealogy questions, but it will give access to a vast array of documents dating from New France.

First, spend some time on the home page learning how to search. Then explore the list of themes and LAC’s online exhibition, New France, New Horizons.

You can use the basic or advanced search and you can search in English or French, but a search in French brings much better results.

For example, I searched for the words “traiteurs+en+fourrures+France” (fur traders France, although the word traiteur now generally means caterer,) and found links to some 2000 documents stored in Canadian and French archives. A search for “commerçants en fourrures” or “commerçants de fourrures” also brought hundreds of results, but a search for “fur traders” only brought a handful. Try using Google translate before you put in your search term.

The results were in French, but a box appeared in the upper right hand corner, offering to translate into English. The page then looked like this:

new france archives results fur

Genealogy, Quebec, Research tips

Using the BAnQ’s Pistard to Research Your Ancestor’s Life

Some family history researchers complain that Pistard, (pistard.banq.qc.ca), the online search tool for documents stored at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), is too complicated difficult to use because it is only in French. I beg to disagree.

The site offers its own online translation tool, users can buy their own French/English dictionaries or they can use online translation tools such as Google Translate. As for the complaint that Pistard is too complicated, I think that is a myth. Pistard by BAnQ is easy to navigate in both the normal search option and the advance search option.

Remember, Pistard is not an online database of marriages, baptisms and deaths. At the BAnQ, there is an online search engine addressing such events, and it is a good one. See http://www.banq.qc.ca/archives/genealogie_histoire_familiale/ressources/bd/

Nor does Pistard address notarial acts including marriage contracts, land purchases and sales, after-death inventories or guardianship of minors after the death of both parents. BAnQ has a superb online search engine addressing notaries. See http://bibnum2.banq.qc.ca/bna/notaires/ You can search each notary’s index of acts and, when there is an asterisk beside the notary’s name, the acts have been digitized. (Ancestry.ca also has a collection of Quebec notarial records. For hints on using it, see the blog Genealogy a la carte, Oct. 6, 2016, http://genealogyalacarte.ca/?p=16520)

Pistard does include archival resources including letters and other text documents, diagrams, land surveys, photographs, drawings and items on microfilm. It includes an online database addressing issues that were dealt with by judicial courts, judicial appointees by Governors or Lieutenant-Governors of New France or by Intendants of New France and appointees of the latter who acted on behalf of the King of France on subjects such as fraud, breach of contracts, unpaid debts, illegal transactions such as the sales of liquor to first nation people, or simply the removal of a fence.

Let me give a couple of examples using, with her permission, several ancestors of my friend and fellow genealogist Claire Lindell. Two of her pioneer ancestors were Claude Jodoin and Julien Fortin. I searched for each name in Pistard.

Jodoin was a neighbour of two farmers in the Seigneurie de La Chevrotière. When these two farmers argued about the location of a fence between two farms, the regional Justice of the Peace had to settle the issue.

Jodoin in Pistard EN
This is a screen shot of the search result for Claude Jodoin, translated by the BAnQ

The second case I have selected deals with the children of Julien Fortin and Suzanne Quenneville. It appears that, after the death of both parents, their daughter Marie was placed under the care of a Jean-Baptiste Lachaise and/or a Pierre Charbonneau. This one is not clear: only the actual document could clarify the reason the judicial system had to solve the issue.

Fortin Pistard
A search in Pistard for Julien Fortin brought up this result, and I then applied the BAnQ’s online translation tool. 

 

The online description of each document posted on Pistard is only a recap of the real document, which is stored in one of the 12 branches of the BAnQ across Quebec. In some cases, Pistard will link you to an image of the original document and a brief description of the case. If not, you can obtain the complete file through an email request.

For each query on Pistard, search results indicate the Cote (Shelf)  #, the Judicial District or Region and the Dossier (file) #. Then, through an email to the repository where the document is kept, you can obtain a download within a few days, for free.

A few months back, I had a telephone conversation with a clerk at BAnQ Vieux-Montréal. I asked her, if you receive an email in the English language, will you reply in English? She replied yes, adding that she was then working on a query from Australia. The person said his ancestor, who had been a Quebec Patriot during the Rebellions of 1837-1838, had been deported to Australia. The BAnQ clerk sent this researcher numerous documents about his ancestor at no charge.

France, Genealogy, Research tips, Resources Outside of Montreal

Finding Ancestors in French Municipal Archives

The attached 43-page PDF addresses the Archives communales de France, also known as the Archives municipales de France. This is the second most important group of archives in France for tracing the families of New France and Acadia. The 95 Archives départementales de France are the number one source of information addressing French Canadians, Acadians, Franco Americans, Franco Ontarians and others. (See also, Researching Your French Ancestors Online, posted May 13, 2018, https://genealogyensemble.com/2018/05/13/researching-your-french-ancestors-online/)

There are some 400 municipal archives. I have selected the 124 largest, including archives that offer online access to some files, or at least an online description of the contents.

In 1792, the Assemblée législative de France (The Legislative Assembly of France) took away the responsibility for issuing birth, marriage and death registers from the curés (priests) and gave these duties to local mairies (city halls). At about the same time, a new civil register of France was created addressing acts of birth, marriage, divorce and death. This register was named the Registre de l’état-civil, and the documents were issued by the city halls.

Subsequently, when many cities and towns created their own archives communales (municipal archives), these local municipal archives were assigned responsibility to safeguard the civil registers.

After the creation of the 95 Archives départementales de France, a great number of the local archives communales (municipal archives) turned over their actes de l’état-civil, or copies of these records, to the regional archives départementales. Other municipal archives did not do so. As a result, some of the files found in municipal archives of France can also be found in the regional archives départementales, while other dossiers cannot be found anywhere else.

The majority of genealogy societies in France work closely with their local archives communales. Many of these genealogy societies share the same building or adjacent building to the archives communales of their region.

Here is the link to the PDF: Archives communales de France – 2018-09-04 Rev

Genealogy, Quebec, Research tips

Searching the BAnQ for books and documents

The Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), the Quebec provincial library and archives, is making some changes to its online search tool that will impact you if you are looking for some books about history.

Pistard pistard.banq.qc.ca will continue to be the primary search tool if you are searching for documents owned by BAnQ. For example, Pistard is the place to search for records of non-criminal offenses such as unpaid purchases of goods, as well as letters and various documents, maps, diagrams and photographs. You can also find documents that were issued by Judicial Districts of New France, Quebec under British Military Rule, Quebec under Lower Canada and Quebec under Confederation.

What the BAnQ has removed from the Pistard search tool is published books which are not owned by BAnQ. You must now look for such books through the Catalogue cap.banq.qc.ca

A search for the name Bagg through Pistard, for example, brings up a list of 24 documents, several of which are plans (diagrams) of property that belonged to a member of the Stanley Bagg family. You can view images of some documents returned by a Pistard search by clicking on the word Coll. on the far right-hand side of the list of results. You can also try researching this database directly from Google by searching, for example, the words Pistard and Bagg together.

One result from Pistard refers to the records of notary Stanley Clark Bagg, but it just describes the collection. To see the index of his notarial acts, you must search on http://bibnum2.banq.qc.ca/bna/notaires/

A search for the name Bagg through the Catalogue brings up 123 results, only one of which is a book that refers to the family – an archaeological report on the house of Abner Bagg, built in 1821.

If you wish to borrow the excellent book by John Francis Bosher, Négociants et navires du commerce avec le Canada de 1660 à 1760, you would now (2018) conduct your online search through the BAnQ Catalogue.

If you want to borrow the English-language version of the same book by J.F. Bosher, Men and ships in the Canada Trade, 1660-1760A biographical dictionary by J.F. Bosher, the online search process is also done through the new BAnQ Catalogue.

The publisher of these two books, Canada Environment – Canadian Parks Services, has discontinued the sales of the English-language version of this superb book. According to the policy of BAnQ in regard to Canadian authors and Canadian publishers, once a book has been removed from the marketplace, BAnQ will digitize that book and the digitized version can be viewed at two of the 12 repositories of the BAnQ: the Collection nationale within the Grande Bibliothèque de Montréal; and BAnQ Québec – Archives nationales du Québec at Université Laval in Quebec City.

You must reserve such digitized books by email. Only the person who has ordered a book by email can have access to these precious and discontinued books. I did so about a month ago, but I have yet to visit the Collection nationale. At my next visit, I will be reminded politely by one of the librarians or technicians that I have not yet reviewed that book on one of the four library computers reserved for such services.

I will explain other aspects of searching on Pistard in future posts.