MSS-001-Beginning French-Canadian Research

Episode 001-December 3, 2013

Maple Stars and Stripes was created as a way to share tips and tricks that might make it easier to locate your French-Canadian family here in America as well as to trace them back in their home villages in Quebec. We’ll discuss ways to make it easier to move around in French records, especially if you’re not a native French speaker, as well as take a look at different record groups, repositories, history, geography, culture, and methodology particular to French-Canadian genealogy.

This first episode included a language tip that might help you to find that missing record here in America that has eluded you, and for those of you who are just beginning your genealogy journey, we looked at the beginning steps of doing French-Canadian research with the goal of discovering your ancestor’s home village or city in Quebec.

Language Tip #1-Pronunciation of Final Consonants

In French pronunciation, you do not pronounce the final consonants of a word except for when that word ends in one of the following consonants: C, R, F, or L. In order to hear the other consonants, they would have to be followed by a silent E. Take, for example the woman’s name Jeanette. You hear the T sound at the end because of the silent E after it. On the other hand, think of how you pronounce the word bouquet. You do not hear the -T because there is no E after it.

So even though an ancestor’s name might have been pronounced /Collette/ here in America when it was spelled C-O-L-L-E-T-T-E, in Canada, where it was spelled C-O-L-L-E-T, the -T would have been silent, and it would have been pronounced /Coll-ay/. How does it SOUND? How would an English-speaking person think it was spelled? Go back and look in the indexes for names spelled the way it sounds.

from Mass. Vital Records vol 255, page 322

from Mass. Vital Records vol 255, page 322

Beginning French-Canadian Genealogy

Begin as anyone would in the US no matter what nationality you are. You can find plenty of information, educational programs, and books available on beginning genealogy. A great beginners’ podcast is Family History: Genealogy Made Easy by Lisa Louise Cooke. She is in the process of re-casting these earlier episodes, and they are well worth your time.

Ways to discover place of origin in Quebec Province:

  •  Interview living relatives several times, providing new triggers each time.
  •  Search out home sources, like Bibles, diaries, or letters.
  •  Search in vital records, including collaterals.
  •  Search in church records. Don’t forget to look in the marginal notations of marriage records for Quebec parishes listed in baptismal verification.
  •  American and French-language newspapers (news articles plus obituaries)
  •  Wills
  •  Naturalization records
  •  Loiselle marriage index
The Loiselle Marriage Index

This is a collection of more than a million cards, found on microfilm or microfiche, that includes French-Canadian marriages from the 1600s to the 1950s. There is a separate Grooms and Brides Index. Check both. This index can be found at the following repositories:

Using the Loiselle Marriage Index:

There is a grooms’ index and a brides’ index. If you can’t find your ancestor in the grooms, look for the bride in the other half of the index. Each card contains the names of the bride and groom, the parents of each including the women’s maiden names, the date of marriage, and the parish where the marriage was recorded. If either the bride, the groom, or the parents of either were from a different parish than where the marriage took place, that parish name is given. If it is not the first marriage for either the bride or the groom, then instead of listing the parents’ names, it will give the name of the deceased previous husband or wife. Then you need to go back and look for the marriage between that couple, and if that was the first marriage you will then find the parents you are looking for.

These cards are in alphabetical order by the first spouse’s surname (either bride or groom), and then by alphabetical order of the other spouse’s surname.

How to Contact Maple Stars and Stripes
  1.  Leave a comment on the episode Show Notes page. For this episode, the address is maplestarsandstripes.com/1
  2. On the web at MapleStarsandStripes.com/contact
  3. By email at feedback [at] maplestarsandstripes [dot] com
  4. By voicemail by clicking on the ‘Send Voicemail’ link from any page at MapleStarsandStripes.com
Listener-submitted locations for the Loiselle Marriage Index:

Massachusetts, Springfield- Springfield Historical Library at the Quadrangle  (Thanks, Shari Strahan)

 

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