Have French ancestors? If you do then according to "French Genealogy Research" you are one of the 8.3 million Americans that claimed French ancestry in the 2000 U.S. census. If you are looking for information on starting your French genealogy, this "Genealogy at a Glance" laminated guide might just be the thing to help you get started. In this guide, Certified Genealogist and author Claire Bettag provides information about immigration, major record sources, repositories and online resources.
For those who are unfamiliar with the "Genealogy at a Glance" series, these are laminated four-page guides on a variety of genealogical topics published by Genealogical Publishing Company. This guide focuses on French ancestry; there is a separate guide for French-Canadian research (authored by Denise R. Larson).
In general, when researching immigrant ancestors it's always best to start with the immigrant and then work your way back. What I like about this Guide is the information it provides to help the researcher with records in France such as the section on how to find your ancestor's city of origin, as this will be crucial in finding records. While there is some reference to U.S. repositories like NARA and FamilySearch, the majority of repositories and resources are French.
While Bettag does help researchers understand what records exist in French she also points out what doesn't exist. One such tip she provides is that in tracing French immigrants, the passenger arrival records at NARA and the Ellis Island website are better sources then French emigration records.
Under 'Major Record Sources,' Bettag provides information about parish records, civil registration, notarial records and censuses. This convenient list provides information about the record, its value and how to access them. Land and military records are also covered. Bettag provides information about French repositories and cautions the researcher that French privacy laws are stricter than U.S. laws. She provides a link to look up privacy laws: a good tip for any research that you conduct in a different country.
Claire Bettag specializes in French research and has lived and studied in France. Her expertise is obvious in this guide as she takes the reader through the ins and outs of French research. With so little written about conducting French research, those with French roots will welcome this resource. This is truly a must-have for those with French ancestors .
Genealogy At A Glance. French Genealogy Research, by Claire Bettag. Genealogical Publishing Company; 2011 edition (March 1, 2012).