Friday, October 14, 2016

French Archives

Good morning folks. I decided to take a vacation day today to catch up on some things around the house. Last week we were struck by Hurricane Matthew, a category 4 hurricane. We lucked out and the hurricane stayed just offshore as it made its way up the Florida coast. Our damage was minimal but that put me about a week behind on the typical housework items like mowing the yard. So, as I am waiting for sunrise I decided to write another short blog post.

Yesterday I attended our monthly German Genealogy Interest Group meeting. This was the first meeting of our year. We start in October and have meetings through May while the snowbirds are here and then take off the summer months. One of the members began asking about archives. As you may remember, I started a series of posts on archives in Germany, France and the Netherlands a little while ago. She was interested in the archives for the Alsace region. After her question I decided to provide more information on the French archives that I have been able to find.

In 1791, after the French Revolution, France was divided into departments which are the local divisions of government. Today, there are 96 departments in France and 5 overseas departments. Each of the departments is distinguished by a two digit number as shown in the map below. These departments have their own archives, and many have smaller local archives. Many of these archives are online.

Departments of France

These archives have important collections of records for your genealogy research. I have been able to use several of them for research that I have done for others. You can see my previous posts concerning the Paris, Haut Rhin, Bas Rhin and Moselle archives. My goal this morning is to provide you with a link to a comprehensive list of the French archives that I have been able to find online so you can further your French research.

The national archive for France can be found at Once you arrive at the National Archive you can find a list of the departments. Each department lists their main webpage, contact information including e-mail, hours of operation, and any regional or local archives within the department boundaries. You can find the department archives list at The archives also have a specific set of pages for genealogy research - In case you can't read the French pages, there is an English translation of the pages available by clicking in the upper right corner of the pages for the English link.

If you want to learn more about the departments and other political regions of France this link is a great resource (

Hope you have luck and let me know if you find any discoveries in these archives.

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