France, Genealogy

BnF Gallica

As one of Europe’s most important countries, it is not surprising that France has a wonderful national library, and that this institution has a growing online presence. The website of the Bibliothèque nationale de France found at www.bnf.fr (or www.bnf.fr/en for the English version) leads you to the catalogue and tells you how to access the library’s many collections, including antiquities and works published in Paris in the 16th century.

Gallica https://gallica.bnf.fr is the BNF’s vast digital library, free to all through the Internet. Intended for use by all readers, including the casually curious, students and academics, this site includes medieval manuscripts, illustrations from the natural sciences, maps and photographs.

It might not seem obvious how Gallica could assist with your family history research, but you just need to stretch your imagination. The Patrimoine équestre collection, for example, focuses on horses, which were part of our ancestors’ everyday lives. (See https://gallica.bnf.fr/html/und/sciences/patrimoine-equestre)  And as France was once a colonial power with a presence from the Caribbean to Polynesia and Africa, the maps on this site could prove helpful if your ancestors were sailors or merchants. (See https://gallica.bnf.fr/html/und/cartes/les-ameriques-en-cartes)

Another aspect of Gallica is a bilingual site called la France en Amerique, or France in America, created in collaboration with the Library of Congress. (See https://gallica.bnf.fr/dossiers/html/dossiers/FranceAmerique/fr/default.htm) In addition, if you are looking for a biography of a French ancestor dating back to the 12th century, BNF Gallica is the place to go. I discovered this by chance.

I was searching online for Jean Allaire, a Quebec City merchant who arrived in New France in 1658. He was associated with François Perron (Péron), a leading merchant in La Rochelle and Québec City. Google took me to the Dictionnaire Allard, also known as the Dictionnaire de Dauphiné, on BnF Gallica. (See https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k39393d/f12.item.zoom)

A dictionnaire in France can be a source of biographies, at least in the more expensive versions. For most of the 44 ancient provinces of France prior to 1789-1799, Bnf Gallica has posted dictionaries of important residents.

This particular dictionary addresses the ancient province of the Dauphiné. At the time of the French Revolution, Dauphiné was divided into three modern-day Départements: Drôme, Hautes-Alpes and Isère. According to Fichier Origine (/www.fichierorigine.com), 26 pioneers from Drôme, 27 settlers from the Hautes-Alpes  and 70 pioneers from the Isère settled in Nouvelle-France.

Similar regional dictionaries covering other parts of France can be found on Gallica, and in them you may find information about your very distant French ancestors in France. For example, I discovered that my family name, which was Gagné in New France, was Gasnier in France in the 16th and 17th centuries, and it appears to have been Garnier in the 14th and 15th centuries. This is information I obtained through BnF Gallica and other free online research tools.

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.