MSS-006-Tanguay and Its Supplement

Episode 006-February 18, 2014

An exciting announcement came out of Rootstech 2014 that will make our initial literature searches much easier. And before we take a look at Tanguay’s Genealogical Dictionary, we tackle some often-misconstrued abbreviations found within its pages.

French-Canadian News- PERSI and

At Rootstech 2014, made an announcement that, in collaboration with the Allen County Public Library, they will be featuring the PERSI index with digital links to the actual journal images.

PERSI, which stands for the PERiodical Source Index, is an index of more than 8,000 different periodicals and journals from genealogical, historical and family surname societies with more than 2.5 million index entries. However they do not index every surname and place name in the entire article; they index from the titles only. That is why many titles include as many surnames and place names as possible associated with the person about whom the article was written.

When you conduct an initial literature search on a new surname, PERSI is a great place to start. When the digital images become available, it will be even easier. will be available for free at Family History Centers and on home computers for members of the LDS church. Otherwise, you’ll need to subscribe. The Canadian records are packaged in with the US collection. Once you are registered, you can access PERSI and begin a search for surnames, places, or key words. Place searches are great for finding church records or tombstone transcriptions.

A search on a French-Canadian surname brought up articles in English as well as articles in French from such journals as Mémoires, Nos Sources, and Ancêtre. If a link to the digital article does not yet exist, the index entry will tell you where to find the journal. You can also check on WorldCat, or you can order the article through the Allen County Public Library.

Search results on

Search results on

According to Josh Taylor of, the only journal linked to images right now is the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, 1870-1920. We can help by encouraging our genealogy or historical societies to allow at least some earlier issues to be digitized. Information can be had by contacting societies [at] findmypast [dot] com. Also, email them with names of French-Canadian journals you’d like to see digitized soon.

Language Tip #6- Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials

When looking for information in published parish records, genealogists encounter the abbreviations b, m, and s. The initial instinct is to equate the abbreviations with birth, marriage, and death. However, these are church records, not civil records. The b stands for baptême (baptism), the m for mariage (marriage), and the s for sépulture (burial). The word for birth is naissance (n.), and death is décès (d.).

English                                  French                                  Abbreviation

birth                                      naissance                                    n

baptism                                 baptême                                      b

marriage                               mariage                                       m

death                                    décès                                           d

burial                                    sépulture                                      s

Tanguay and Its Supplement

Tanguay title page, vol. 1

Cyprien Tanguay published his seven volumes of the Dictionnaire généalogique des familles canadiennes françaises depuis les origines de la colonie jusqu’à nos jours (the genealogical dictionary of French-Canadian families from the beginning of the colony until today) between 1871 and 1890. Volume 1 covers the period from 1608-1700; volumes 2-7 cover 1701-1760.

Arrangement of Tanguay’s seven volumes:

Volume 1:

  • history of French given names and surnames (in French)
  • how to read the entries
  • a list of ecclesiastical provinces in France in 1631
  • an alphabetical list of towns and corresponding provinces in France in 1631
  • a chronological list of the parishes and missions in Québec holding registers from 1621 to 1871
  • a geographic and alphabetical list of parishes in the province of Québec in 1871
  • an alphabetical list of the governors, intendants, judges, physicians, and notaries in New France from 1608 to 1700
  • a list of the seigneuries in 1681
  • the personnel in the religious houses in 1681
  • the genealogical dictionary from the parish registers of Québec from 1608 to 1700

Volume 2:

  • list of abbreviations
  • the genealogical dictionary from the surname Abel to Chapuy

Volume 3:

  • explains the institution of slavery in Nouvelle France, beginning in 1688 or a little after
  • a list of slaves (the majority had the given name of Marie or Joseph)
  • the dictionary from the surname Charbonneau through surnames beginning with E

Volume 4:

  • a survey of illegitimacy in Québec, including tables comparing numbers of legitimate births to illegitimate ones for each decade from the beginning of the eighteenth century until 1870
  • the dictionary from surnames beginning with F through the surname Jinines

Volume 5:

  • the dictionary from the surname Joachim to Mercier

Volume 6:

  • the dictionary from Mercin to Robidoux

Volume 7:

  • the dictionary from Robillard to Ziseuse
  • a list of dit names
  • a list of white men who married native women
Sample with explanation:
Jean-Baptiste entry in Tanguay

Jean-Baptiste entry in Tanguay

An entry in Tanguay is basically a family group sheet beginning with the first marriage of the male in question. Our sample begins with the marriage of Jean Baptiste Gagnon to Marie-Françoise Ouellet. The top line gives the year of marriage, 1714, followed by the date 15 January, in the parish Rivière-Ouelle. The Roman numeral III in front of Jean Baptiste Gagnon’s name indicates that he is the third-generation French-Canadian. To the right is his father’s name and an indication that he is the second generation. Only a year is given for Jean Baptiste’s baptism, 1688, an indication that Tanguay did not have in his hand an actual baptism record. The s indicates that he was buried 3 February 1769 at Ste-Anne-de-la-Pocatière. You’ll notice a superscript six after the name of the parish. This is a bit of shorthand that Tanguay uses so he doesn’t have to continually repeat parish names. From here on in, any birth, marriage, or death in this record that takes place in Ste-Anne-de-la-Pocatière will have a superscript six after the abbreviation b, m, or s instead of the full name of the parish.

Below that is the name of his first wife. You can tell it’s his first wife because in front of her name is a 1 with what looks like a little degree symbol. If you look further down you’ll find the number two with a degree symbol in front of his second wife, a 3 in front of the third wife, and finally a 4 in front of his fourth wife.

Now back to his first wife Marie Françoise Oullet. Her father Joseph was a second-generation French-Canadian. Tanguay was not certain of her baptism as it only gives the year 1692. Information on her will be found under her father’s entry. Following that is a list of Jean Baptiste and Marie Françoise’s children along with the dates and places of their baptisms and burials as well as marriage information with spouses listed. There is a superscript six after the b for baptism for the second child Marie-Françoise, indicating that she was baptized also at Ste-Anne-de-la-Pocatière. You’ll also notice that Marie-Françoise the daughter was also married twice.

If you look at the entry for the third and the fourth wives, you’ll notice that Marie-Anne Pinel was the veuve of Sébastien Grondin and Madeleine Pierre-Jean was the veuve of Bernard Oullet, Veuve means “widow.” You would find information on their previous marriages under the deceased spouse’s name.

Complément au Dictionnaire Généalogique Tanguay

Complément au Dictionnaire Généalogique Tanguay title page

Because of many errors and omissions in Tanguay,  J. Arthur Leboeuf published a Complément au Dictionnaire Généalogique Tanguay, or Complement to Tanguay’s Genealogical Dictionary. It is usually divided into two parts, the first series followed by the second series. Each series is further divided into six parts, corresponding to volumes 2 through seven of the original Tanguay. Each part contains the additions or corrections to that particular volume. However the corrections only applied to marriages, not to the complete family composition.

Louis Deguire correction:

Complément correction for Deguire entry

This shows a first marriage which Tanguay missed and the second marriage with a corrected given name for the wife. The page number at the end of the entry refers to the page in the third volume of Tanguay where the entry IS or SHOULD BE located.

After the first series is a section which in English would be “rectifications and additions of the first part.”  Here you will find a clarification on the DeGuire entry informing you that Louis DeGuire’s marriage to Marguerite Guertin did not appear in Tanguay.

More Deguire corrections

Search strategy:

  • look alphabetically in the first part
  • look in the rectification and additions of the first part
  • look alphabetically in the second part

Both Tanguay and its supplement are secondary sources and should be used as stepping stones to the original documents.

Where to Find Tanguay and Its Supplement


Leboeuf’s Complément :


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3 comments on “MSS-006-Tanguay and Its Supplement

  1. Doris Bourrie

    Hi, just wanted to say that I have recently discovered your site and have found it very interesting. I wish there had been something of this nature to assist me when I started trying to trace my husband’s French roots back in the 1970’s! It certainly would have made the job easier. Keep up the good work — I’m looking forward to your next post. Doris Bourrie (originally Boure dit L’Espine)

    1. Sandra Goodwin

      Thanks, Doris. I wish there would have been something like this when _I_ started also. 😉

  2. Pingback: Tuesday Tip: Podcast #6 | Family Circle 14

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