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April 1, 2007

Genealogy: French Web site offers myriad of information

A French Web site has recently been created with a database of 439,770 records including 225,700 baptisms, 69,799 marriages, and 144,271 burials from the parish records in the French department of Haute-Saone, a part of the Franche-Comte region. Haute-Saone is located in the northeast of France and was created in 1789 during the French Revolution. The Web site contains records (“actes”) from 113 communities and parishes. These records are from the years 1637-1932, but the majority are from the 1700s and 1800s.

Even though the site is in French, it is fairly easy to use. Go to pcl68.free.fr/actes. At the upper left will be a search engine, “chercher,” with three options. Use the “interesse” option to find a baptism, marriage, or burial of interest by entering the surname you are looking for. Use the “mere conjoint, temoins, parrain/marraine” to locate a person with that surname who is a mother or spouse on a record, a witness to an event, or a godfather or godmother on a baptismal record. “Recherche avances” is the advanced search engine where you can enter more information. Or you can search through each parish by clicking on it and then choosing from the surnames (“patronymes”) listed.

Here are some translations of terms used on the site: “naissances/baptemes” are births and baptisms, “mariages” is self-explanatory, and deces/seputures are deaths and burials. “Communes et paroisses” refers to the communities and parishes listed. “Epoux” is husband and “espouses” is wife. Also remember that France, as well as other European countries, uses the date format of day/month/year instead of the American format of month/day/year. So if you see the date 12/3/1756 it is 12 March 1756 and not Dec. 3, 1756.

Once you find a record for a person you are interested in, there is quite a bit of potential information on the record. Baptisms list the parish, department/province (all Haute-Saone in this case), the surname, the first name, the date of baptism or birth, the gender, the father’s name, comments on the father (such as where he is from), the mother’s name, comments on the mother, and the names of the witnesses. For marriages the parish, province, name of husband, birthplace of husband, his parents’ names, the wife’s name, her birthplace, her parents’ names, date of the marriage, and names of witnesses can be listed. Death and burial records include name of parish, province, last and first names of the decedent, date of death or burial, gender, date and place of birth, age at death, profession, whether married, father’s name and place of residence, mother’s name and place of residence, witnesses, and other information. Many of these records have a serial number that can then be used to order a copy of the actual record.

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