MSS-009-The Drouin Collection

Episode 009-April 1, 2014

Many French words consist of letters with diacritical marks. Leaving off these marks is like misspelling the words. In episode 9, we first take a look at the five French diacritical marks, and then discuss ways for English-speaking people to more easily type these letters on keyboards and tablets.

We will also take a look at the wonderful Drouin collection: big, little, male, female, red, blue, and find out what it all means.

Language Tip #9-French Accents and Diacritical Marks

In the French language, there are four different accents or diacritical marks for vowels and one for a consonant. Omitting or misusing these is the same as misspelling a word.

  • Accent aigu             é
  • Accent grave           à è ù
  • Accent circonflexe   â ê î ô û
  • Accent tréma           ë
  • Cédille                     ç

So how best to type these letters into your genealogy database or transcription? You have a couple of choices:

  • Virtual French keyboard
  • Shortcut keys
Virtual Keyboard

Get instructions on installing a French keyboard:

Once the keyboard is installed, you can easily switch back and forth between English, French, and any other keyboard you’ve installed by clicking the desired language in the system tray.

Switching Virtual Keyboards

Switching Virtual Keyboards

You’ll also need to get used to the key locations. The more common letters are the last key or two at the end of each row on a Windows computer. Instructions on typing all the accented characters can be found here for Windows and here for Mac.

Shortcut Keys

Suggestion: Print out the chart found on the AFGS website. Cut out the strips of characters and their codes and tape them to the side of your monitor. On a Windows computer, hold the Alt key and type in the three digits to get each letter.

Accent strips on monitor

Accent strips on monitor

Accent strips on monitor

Accent strips on monitor

For Mac users, follow these instructions.

For iDevices:

To install a virtual keyboard using iOs7, go to General – Keyboard – Keyboards – Add New Keyboard, and you can install a virtual keyboard specifically for French Canada.

For the shortcut, if you want to type an é, hold down the ‘e’ key until accented characters pop up. Drag your finger to the é and release. The letter will automatically be typed into your document.

French characters on an iDevice

French characters on an iDevice

If you use other devises or operating systems, please share instructions in the show notes.

The Drouin Collection

While doing your French-Canadian research, you may hear the terms Blue Drouin, Red Drouin, Big Drouin, Little Drouin, Male Drouin, and Female Drouin. What does it all mean?

Blue Drouin
  • Alias: Big Drouin, Male Drouin, Female Drouin
  • Years Covered:1935
  • Notes: 113 volumes (49 for men; 64 for women)
Red Drouin
  • Alias: Dictionnaire National des Canadiens Français
  • Years Covered: 1760
  • Notes: vol. 1-2 index; vol 3 biographies
Little Drouin
  • Alias: Petit Drouin
  • Years Covered: 1825
  • Notes: 27 volumes (22 men; 5 women)

The Drouin compilations are marriage indexes based on the civil copy of the records. Use it to find the original.

The Blue Drouin

Both the Male and the Female volumes are divided into a first and second part. So be sure to check out the names in both sections. The first part covers the years 1760 to 1880, and the second part covers 1880 to 1935. Dates are approximate. If you are not successful, check the other section even if you know the event took place outside of the date range.

Male Drouin

Male Drouin

Female Drouin

Female Drouin

How to Read the Record

If your known ancestor is male, go to the Male Drouin. If your known ancestor is female, go to the Female Drouin. Names are arranged alphabetically by surname.

  • The left-hand column shows the surname with variations and dit names.
  • The top line consists of groom’s name, bride’s name, and place of marriage.
  • The second line shows father and mother of groom, father and mother of bride, and date of marriage.
Female Drouin example

Female Drouin example

This example shows on the top line Elmire Archambault marrying Alfred Beaudry. Her father is Joseph Archambault and her mother is Françoise Gingras. Alfred’s father is Prudent Beaudry and his mother is Adèle Jourdain. They were married at St. Paul Abbotsford on September 5, 1870.

On the next line is another Elmire Archambault. This was not her first marriage because below her name, you see the abbreviation ‘vve’ which stands for the French word veuve, meaning ‘widow.’ To find her parents you would have to find her marriage to François Montreuil. Assuming that was her first marriage, you would find her parents’ names listed there. Then you can follow her line back by finding her parents’ marriage, and so on. In the case of a widowed man, you would see the letters ‘vf’ for the French word veuf, meaning ‘widower.’

The Petit Drouin

  • Lists Catholic marriages from 1760 to 1825
  • 22 volumes indexed alphabetically by grooms’ names
  • 5 volumes listing brides alphabetically
Petit Drouin male-example

Petit Drouin male-example

Petit Drouin female-example

Petit Drouin female-example

The Red Drouin

The Red Drouin is also known as the Dictionnaire National des Canadiens Français. It is published in book form and as a CD-Rom available from the American-French Genealogical Society. Covering pre-1760 records, the first two volumes index the marriages, and the third volume contains biographies of many notable early Québec residents.

Search alphabetically by the groom’s surname. The surnames, name variations, and dit names will be found in the left column. Then you search alphabetically by groom’s first name. Each marriage record is recorded on two lines. The first line has the groom’s first name followed by the bride’s name and the place of marriage. The second line consists of the father then the mother of both. At the end of the second line is the date of marriage. After the bride’s parents’ names you will find a page reference. On that page you will find the marriage record for the bride’s parents. Once you know the names of the parents, you simply move backwards or forwards alphabetically to the father’s first name to continue the line backwards.

Red Drouin example

Red Drouin example

Voir tome III’ means ‘see volume 3,’ the volume with the biographies. Here you may also find signatures and coats of arms.


Red Drouin-signature

If the groom was the immigrant ancestor, the entry will tell you his French origins. If he was a soldier, very often it will list his company.

Red Drouin example

Drouin Hard-to-Find Marriages

At the American-French Genealogical Society Library in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, you will find the Drouin Hard-to-Find Marriages on their computers. These digitized images of cards include some French-Canadian names as well as other nationalities like Scottish and Italian. The cards include the names of the bride and groom and the place and date of marriage. Some include the parents’ names; others the names of witnesses. Check these out if you still have missing ancestors.

Sample Hard-to-Find-Drouin example

Sample Hard-to-Find-Drouin example

Where to Find the Drouin Collection

The Drouin series can be found at most French-Canadian genealogy libraries as well as most larger libraries with a significant genealogy section, especially in areas with many French-Canadian immigrants. If the Drouin is carried in a library near you, please add the name and location of the repository in the comments below so that we can compile a thorough list.

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4 comments on “MSS-009-The Drouin Collection

  1. Ron Valiquette

    I wish I had done my family genealogy when my parents were still alive.. I live only 15 minutes from AFGS…. I got going on it when I had moved to Green Bay, Wisconsin and found out some of the earliest settlers there were some of my ancestors! I returned to Rhode Island several years ago.

  2. Pingback: Tuesday Tip: Podcast #9 | Family Circle 14

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