MSS-018-The American-Canadian Genealogical Society

Episode 018-August 19, 2014

New Hampshire saw a large influx of French-Canadians in the 19th century, and the American-Canadian Genealogical Society and its library help many descendants trace their roots back to Québec. President Jim Gaudet fills us in on the history and happenings of the ACGS. In Language Tip #18, we learn how knowledge of French hypocorisms, or diminutives, can help in our research.


Upcoming American-French Genealogical Society classes:

August 23, 2014 – AFGS library at 78 Earle St., Woonsocket, RI – 9 AM – Jan Burkhart will be conducting a class called ‘How to Read the Repertoires and How to Use the Library.’ September 6, 2014 – AFGS library at 78 Earle St., Woonsocket, RI – 9 AM – a class on using the film room at the AFGS library

Upcoming American-Canadian Genealogical Society conference:

September 27, 2014 – Château Event Center at 201 Hanover St., in downtown Manchester – 8 AM to 4 PM – fall conference and annual meeting with three speakers (including yours truly)


If you’re having trouble receiving all posts from the Maple Stars and Stripes Facebook page, make sure that you not only ‘like’ the page, but also click the down arrow and check ‘get notifications.’ If you’re still having problems, please email me and let me know.

Language Tip #18-French Hypocorisms (Diminutives)

Definition of hypocorism: a pet name, especially one using a diminutive affix. An understanding of hypocorisms might help you determine whether or not two people are actually the same person.

  • Different diminutives were popular during different time periods (Mariette for Marie in the early 20th century; Henriquet for Henri several hundred years ago).
  • Male names can have a feminine versions which have a diminutive ending (ex: Etienne-Etiennette)
  • Diminutive affixes indicate a nickname suggesting diminutive size. In English we would call Little John Johnny. In French, Little Anne becomes Annette.
There are several diminutive affixes in French:
  • ET (masculine) and ETTE (feminine); ex: Jacquet, Jeannette
  • INE; Michel, Micheline
  • ELLE; Christelle
  • Shorten longer names to one or two syllables; ex: Emmanuelle becomes Manu
  • Drop the first syllable; ex: Christophe becomes Tophe
  • Double one syllable; ex: Joseph becomes Jojo
  • OT (masculine) and OTTE (feminine); ex: Charlot, Charlotte
  • Add ON ending to syllable from given name; ex: Antoinette becomes Toinon
  • OU; ex: Anne becomes Nanou
  • ICK, IC (indicates Breton origins); ex: Anne becomes Annick

Table 1 shows feminine diminutive versions of masculine names:

Feminine diminutives from masculine names

Table 1. Feminine diminutives from masculine names















Table 2 shows both masculine and feminine diminutives formed from given names:




























































Please add any missing diminutives in the comments below.

Update: Louisiana diminutives

The American-Canadian Genealogical Society

ACGS Library

ACGS Library (Courtesy of ACGS)

The American-Canadian Genealogical Society headquarters and its library are located at 4 Elm St. in Manchester, NH. Its current president is Jim Gaudet. The ACGS was founded in September of 1973 and recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. It’s been at its current location at 4 Elm St. since the early 90s.

Its 1500 plus members benefit from the society’s French-Canadian, Acadian, and Franco-American collections. They recently hosted the Nau dit Labrie and the Audette dit Lapointe family associations from Canada who were amazed at the amount of resources the society had for Québec and the Maritimes.

Library and Collections

The usual French-Canadian collections can be found at the society:

  • Québec and US parish repertoires
  • The digital Drouin collection
  • A subscription to the LaFrance database
  • A large Acadian section
  • A large collection of family genealogies

Their complete holdings can be found in the library catalog and include more than just French-Canadian resources.

Jim believes that the friendliness and willingness of the volunteers to help is what makes the library such a popular place to research.

Education and Communication

ACGS, as part of its charter, provides two conferences per year, a spring workshop and a fall business meeting and conference with paid speakers. The upcoming conference is September 27. Information and the registration form are on its website. It also provides education for the community at large, including schools.

Jim said that the challenge today is staying up with technology. They are exploring webinars, updating their website, and digitizing their journal. The society has published more than 150 parish repertoires that its members helped to compile and continues its publication efforts. It considers that its mission is to preserve these records before they deteriorate beyond use and works with various parishes to achieve this goal.

The ACGS journal is called the American Canadian Genealogist and is published once per trimester. It is available with membership, digitally or as a paper copy. You can download a sample issue here.

The society website, which was recently updated, is located at On it you will find announcements of upcoming events and information about their capital improvement fund, research department, message board, membership, and library, including its catalog of holdings. The society is working on including a members-only section. The society Facebook page is at There you can sign up for the free monthly newsletter. They can also be found on LinkedIn.

ACGS mural

Mural in the ACGS library reading room


Volunteers are always needed and welcomed. If you have three hours a month to help out and would like to be on one of their many committees, call Jim. Volunteers are allowed off-hours access to the library.

Be sure to check out the September 27th fall conference before the early-bird deadline has passed.


You can contact Jim at acgs [at] acgs [dot] org or call the library at 603-622-1554.

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2 comments on “MSS-018-The American-Canadian Genealogical Society

  1. Julie Mangin

    Thanks for the information about your Facebook page. I had “liked” the page, but did not have notifications turned on. I’ll let you know if that makes a difference in seeing your posts, which I hadn’t been getting. I’ll be honest and say that I am ambivalent about social media. I think of Facebook as a necessary evil, for keeping in touch with out-of-town friends, and with organizations such as Maple Stars and Stripes, and other historical societies. But If you were to switch to Google+, I’m not sure if I would follow you there. It’s just my two cents.

    1. Sandra Goodwin

      I don’t blame you, Julie. That’s what I expected. I use Google+ occasionally, but I’m trying to cut back on social media altogether. It seems the greater my time on social media, the less productive I am. it’s as you say, a necessary evil. If we could only convince the young folks of that!!

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