MSS-017- French-Canadian Repertoires

Episode 017-August 5, 2014 Today we learn how to use repertoires. Their ease of use makes them a perfect finding aid for locating the original record. We also look at the pronunciation of and multiple spellings for an initial OU found in some given and surnames.

Language Tip #17- Oui, oui, the sound of /ou/

Yes, the French word oui sounds (to English speakers) like it begins with a W. That is why French names like Ouellette and Ouimette can sometimes be found as Willette and Wimette, or variations thereof. Working in reverse, if you have a French-Canadian ancestor outside of Québec with a last name such as Willette, and you work your way back into Québec, you may find the name beginning with OU. But, you may also find it beginning with a mute H – Houellette. Many English captives carried to Canada whose names begin with a W can be found in French records under OU or HOU. Webber  Ouabard, Ouabart, Houabard, or Houarbart Waddens Ouadens William  Ouilem So if you’ve been having trouble finding given names or surnames beginning with the W, be sure to check out that same name with an OU or an HOU.

French-Canadian Repertoires

Repertoires can be a fast and easy way to locate and to piece together a family, as long as you use them as a finding aid to the original. Repertoires are indexes to the Québec and American parish records for baptisms, marriages, and burials. They are most often created by people, uually members of a genealogy or historical society, who abstracted the important information from these records and arranged it alphabetically or chronologically before publishing it.

  • Includes one parish, or several combined
  • May include a census
  • May include marginal annotations
  • May include a history of the parish
  • List of abbreviations (COPY!!!)
  • Source citation and copyright information
  • Method used to record dates
  • Is year on every page?
Marriage Repertoires
  • Names of bride and groom
  • Date and place of marriage
  • Names of parents
  • Residence of spouse or parents
  • Previous spouse
  • Had bride or groom reached age of majority?

If you run your finger down the Parents column, you can find other children born to that couple who married. If records are in chronological order, an index is needed to locate bride and groom. If records are in alphabetical order, they may be alphabetized by groom’s surname with a bride’s index in the back.

Baptism repertoires
  • Name of baptized child
  • Parents of child
  • Date and place of baptism
  • Date of birth
  • Names of godparents
  • Relationship of godparents
  • If child was a twin or triplet
Burial records
  • Name of deceased
  • Date and place of burial
  • If child, name of parents
  • If adult, name of living or deceased spouse
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Witnesses
Census records
  • Household members
  • Ages
  • Marital status
  • Occupation
  • Cause of death (if died in past year)
  • Residence

Where to Find French-Canadian Repertoires

Major French-Canadian genealogy libraries list many repertoires in their holdings. Below are only a few:

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3 comments on “MSS-017- French-Canadian Repertoires

  1. Julie Mangin

    Another great podcast, Sandy!

    I just wanted to point out that the Library of Congress has many church repertories as well. If you go to their online catalog (, you can browse the subjects which start with: “Marriage records–Québec (Province)” and see what they have. The Library of Congress does not circulate church repertories, but if you are visiting Washington, D.C., it’s worth a try. If you are planning a research trip to the Library, check out this page to prepare for your visit:

    Another source that I have used for church repertories is to purchase ones that I can’t find anywhere else from used book sellers. is a site that aggregates the catalogs of thousands of sellers. The repertories can cost anywhere from $15 to $100, depending on the seller and the scarcity of the book. It’s an option when you’ve got nowhere else to try. I decided I wanted to own my own copies of the repertories of my closest ancestors who lived and married in Quebec.

  2. Christine Thiffault

    If your listeners are interested in Répertoires for the Eastern Townships (Québec), I recommend visiting the site of the Société Généalogique des Cantons-de-l’Est (SGCE) at When you click on “Nos Publications” you can view a list of repertoires that can be found in their library in Sherbrooke or that can be purchased as a book or on a CD. You can ask to be added to their newsletter to be informed every time they publish a new one.

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