Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Archives for Alsace-Lorraine, France (Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin and Moselle)

Hello again, I am now on a two blog post streak (yes, two is a streak for me). I will be focusing on some French archives in the next few posts. Did you know that France was divided into 83 departments during the French Revolution and that each of those departments have their own archives?!

Lately I have been helping someone research their ancestors in the Alsace-Lorraine region. The Alsace-Lorraine region was formed as part of the Germen Empire in 1871 and is located on the west bank of the Rhine River, directly across from Baden-Wurttemberg where my wife's ancestors are from. Because of their close proximity, many of the residents of this region spoke German dialects and many of their records were in German also. This area was transferred to France after WW I but re-annexed by Germany during WW II. Now it is again part of France and is referred to as Alsace-Moselle.

The area is divided into three main regions, Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin and Moselle. Each of these regions have their own archives. Many of these records go back into the 1700s and include parish and census records, as well as birth, marriage and death records.

Here is an example of the records that I have found in these archives:

Birth record for Rose Netter - 1832.

The Bas-Rhin archives can be found at
The Haut-Rhin archives are located at
The Moselle archives are at

Many of the records in these archives are not yet searchable so it does take some looking through the pages to find the ones you may be looking for. However, what I have found is that many of the record sets have their indexes included either at the front or the back of the records. So, to make it easier to search you may want to look at a few pages up front and then in the back to find where the index is located. These record sets include multiple years and the indexes are included with each year so you will still have to search the documents to find each year's index. One difficulty that I have found in these records is that all of the records are separated by town. So, just knowing that your ancestor was from Alsace-Lorraine may not be good enough. You will need to know which department to begin searching and then know which town they lived in to find their records. This made it extremely difficult because the family I was looking for began in Fegersheim and then moved to Strasbourg about 1880. All I was given by the person I am helping was that they were from Alsace-Lorraine. I was able to determine the towns based on US records, including immigration, naturalization and passport applications.

Good luck finding your Alsatian ancestors, whether they be German or French.

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