MSS-012-The Drouin Collection-Microfilmed and Digitized

Episode 012-May 20, 2014

After looking at the various finding aids and indexes to the original parish registers, it’s time to delve into the records themselves. Every genealogist’s goal is to get back to the original, and French-Canadians are blessed with an embarrassment of riches. The Drouin, whether microfilmed or digitized, provides us with the documentation we need to fill out family lines. In Language Tip #12 we’ll look at gender clues that can be found in the parish records.

Drouin record

Registres from St. Paul, Joliette, PQ, 1826


First, a couple of announcements. All comments and feedback are welcome, but if your comment or question could help others, please consider submitting it to the comments section of the show notes so everyone can benefit from the discussion.

In the United States we will be celebrating Memorial Day. How will you honor your French-Canadian ancestors? For listeners in other countries, are there any specific holidays during which you memorialize your French-Canadian ancestors?

And if you’re traveling to Québec this summer, consider taking along your smart phone with the Place-Royale from Today to Yesterday app to guide you through your visit to the Place-Royal. There is both a French and an English version.

Place Royale podcast on iTunes

Language Tip #12-Gender Clues

In episode #2 we learned that an E added to the end of a word often changes the gender of that noun or adjective from masculine to feminine. The presence or absence of that final E can provide clues.

Baptism Records:

The priest usually writes in French, “I have baptized [name of the child] born [indication of date]. The French words for ‘have baptized’ are a eté baptizé. If baptizé ends in an E accent aigu, then the child baptized is a male. If baptizée ends in an E accent aigu followed by another E, then the child baptized is female. Another clue in the same record is the word for born. means the child is a boy, and née means the child is a girl. If you are not familiar with the child’s given name, you can tell the gender from these words. 

Baptism-gender clues

This child is male.

Marriage Records:
  • Fils = son
  • Fille = daughter
  • Fils majeur = adult son
  • Fille majeure = adult daughter
  • Fils mineur = the groom is not of age
  • Fille mineure = the bride is not of age
  • Feu or défunt = the male referred to is deceased
  • Feue or défunte = the female referred to is deceased
  • Veuf = widower
  • Veuve = widow
  • Époux = husband
  • Épouse = wife

Of course, these words may appear in records other than marriage records.

Marriage record-gender clues

François is a fils majeur, or adult son. His father Joseph is défunt, or deceased. Louisa is a fille mineure; she is not of age. One of the witnesses, Joseph Buret, is the ami de, or friend of, l’époux, or the husband François. Jean Baptiste Lapointe is the friend of l’épouse, or the wife Louisa.

Burial Records:
  • Inhumé = “buried,” when the deceased person is male [Some priests use inhumé for both males and females.]
  • Inhumée = “buried,” when the deceased person is female
  • Décédé = the deceased person is male
  • Décédée = the deceased person is female
  • Agé = “aged,” when referring to a male
  • Agée = “aged,” when referring to a female
Burial record-gender clues

Décédée indicates a female died. ‘Agée de trente deux ans’ means the female was 32 years old. She was the ‘épouse,’ or wife, of Michel Tremblay.

Ready for a short quiz?

Click here to test your knowledge of gender specific words found in the Drouin records.

The Drouin Collection-Microfilmed and Digitized

From 1679 to 1993, Canada required churches to create a second copy of their records and send them annually to the appropriate courthouse.

Two copies of records:
  • Original copy kept in the parish and microfilmed by the LDS in 1976
  • Civil copy sent to courts, now held in National Archives of Québec, microfilmed by the Drouin Genealogical Institute in the 1940s
Drouin microfilms:
  • More than 2,300 rolls of film; more than 61,000,000 records from over 3,000 parishes from Québec, Ontario, Acadia, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Maine, New York, and Michigan
  • Records up to 1947
  • Hull, Gatineau, and parts of Ontario may go up to the 1960s.
LDS microfilms:
  • Catholic churches only
  • Most civil copies of Catholic registers between 1878 and 1899
  • Catholic registers from the Diocese of Pembroke, Ontario, to 1910

So if you are trying to read a record filmed by either the Drouin Institute or the LDS church and that record is extremely difficult to read, you can try to locate that same record in the other collection and hopefully you’ll have more luck there.

Where to Find the Microfilm

In America:

American-French Genealogical Society purchased the Drouin microfilms in the late 1990s, and then sold copies to NEHGS.

In Canada:

Digitized Drouin


Québec’s vital and church records, 1621 to 1967– includes all church records for the province of Québec no matter the denomination. Included are your baptisms, marriages, and burials as well as other types of records such as confirmations, dispensations, censuses, and so on.

Ontario French Catholic Church records, 1747 to 1967– covers exactly what it says, Catholic parishes in the province of Ontario

Acadia French Catholic Church records, 1670 to 1946– includes records from old Acadia, which covered today’s provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and part of Québec province.

Québec notarial records, 1647 to 1942– does not contain the actual notary records themselves, but rather the repertories and indexes compiled by the notaries. So you need to know the name of the notary that serviced your ancestor in order to use this sub-collection.

Early US French Catholic Church records, 1695 to 1954– includes about 228,000 records from the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Miscellaneous French records, 1651 to 1941– covers records mainly from the province of Québec and include such records as topographic dictionaries, family genealogies and histories, journals, letters, manuscripts, registers of notaries, and acts.

If you cannot locate your ancestor in the index but you know the parish, you most often will find that the priest included an index, usually in the back of the volume.

  • $$
  • Index links to original record
  • Catholic baptisms and deaths in Québec from 1621 to 1849
  • Catholic marriages from 1825 to 1912
  • Many different collections
LaFrance individual record

Burial index card for Joseph Tremblay. In the LaFrance database, click on .jpg link (circled in red) to see original record.


Joseph Tremblay burial record in parish register

Joseph Tremblay burial record in parish register

Other links:

How to Contact Maple Stars and Stripes

2 comments on “MSS-012-The Drouin Collection-Microfilmed and Digitized

  1. Suzanne Boivin Sommerville

    Thank you, Sandra. A precision for your note about
    Quebec Notarial Records on You say:
    “does not contain the actual notary records themselves, but rather the repertories and indexes compiled by the notaries. So you need to know the name of the notary that serviced your ancestor in order to use this sub-collection.”

    The last part is true, you do need to know the name of the notary and the date. But, this collection contains actual records with actual signatures or “marques” of those who could not sign. In my article “Marie Claude Chamois, Fille du Roi, Wife of François Frigon: A Mystery,” I used the marriage contract of the Forcier / Chamois marriage contract available on Ancestry, Quebec Notarial Records (Drouin Collection), Letter A, 1663-1670, Séverin Ameau, images 240 and 241 of 253, and added the signatures to my article. Point your browser to
    for my article, page 120 for the image.

    Reading the old handwriting is a challenge, but it can be done. Not all notarial records are available on this set of records. Others can be ordered from BAnQ.

    A comment about the Early U. S. French Catholic Church records. You write:
    “includes about 228,000 records from the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New

    York, and Pennsylvania.”

    Some of these records are transcriptions, which will be obvious if the text is all in one handwriting, even the signatures. Also, because L’Assomption

    parish in modern-day Windsor, Ontario, across the river from what is now Detroit, Michigan, was part of “le détroit,” the strait, now called the Detroit

    River, some of this parish’s records can be found in Early U. S. French Catholic Church records even though they are not technically Michigan records.

    1. Sandra Goodwin

      Thanks again, Suzanne, for clarifying the details. It’s terrific that we can all count on someone with your expertise to take the time to help us all.

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