Many thousands of the descendants of the intrepid French men and women who came to North America in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries have found that French-Canadian genealogy is a fruitful and engrossing avocation.
A new guide to family history research in French Canada is automatically of interest to Louisiana genealogists (like me) not only because of the historical similarity between the French colonial systems in Quebec and Louisiana, but also because a large fraction of those expelled by the English from Acadia made their way to Quebec. To produce such a volume, the publication committee of the French-Canadian/Acadian Genealogists of Wisconsin first considered republishing a collection of articles from its Quarterly, but realized too many of them required major revision and that a number of other topics had not been addressed at all.
This book became a six-year project and the quality of the results of their labors is generally quite high, and the researcher is likely to come back to it again and again, not only for instruction in wringing the most out of the key primary and secondary sources but for ready reference.
The introductory section summarizes the history of French Canada, provides a detailed timeline, explains Quebecois naming patterns, and describes the seigneurial system under which New France operated. The section on primary materials gives details on obtaining and using French-Canadian church records, the place of civil registration in Quebec, and the use of notarial records (with which south Louisiana researchers should already be familiar).
An extended discussion of the dozen or so most important secondary sources accounts for about one-third of the volume, and includes Tanguay's "Dictionnaire Genealogique", Leboeuf's "Complement to Tanguay", the "Loiselle Quebec Marriage Index", Jette's "Dictionnaire Genealogique" of families to 1730, the "Repetoire des actes", and the "Programme de researche en demographie historique" (the PRDH), among others. Each of these chapters moves from an overview to a detailed discussion of what information is included and how to make the best use of it. There are numerous examples and illustrations.
A further section of specialized topics includes a very good article on the "filles du roi" and others on Canadian military records and the special problems of researching fur-trading ancestors. (A very brief outline of genealogy on the Internet, however, would have been better omitted.) A series of appendices provide relevant maps, essential French vocabulary, how dates are written in French, the details of Canadian census records and census substitutes, and a lengthy list of addresses of libraries, archives, and organizations in French Canada. The writing quality throughout is high and in an extended perusal I was able to detect no glaring errors or omissions. If you have any interest in French-Canadian family research, I can recommend this one for your primary reference shelf.
"This is THE reference book for all French-Canadian researchers and for other researchers whose ancestors may have spent time in the French areas of Canada. The book is meticulously researched and well indexed for ease of use. It includes many, many sources not available in other reference material. Well done!"
Jan Benoit, family historian, who specializes in Quebec research.
- 320 Pages, 8 1/2" x 11" Hardbound, ISBN 1-931279-01-2