MSS-023-Sharing Franco Heritage with the Next Generation

Episode 023-November 4, 2014

Most genealogists would like to pass their life’s work onto a younger family member. But how to get him or her interested? In today’s episode, a New Hampshire teacher shares the activities she’s using to help her students get in touch with their Franco heritage.

In Language Tip #23, we’ll explore the topic of ordinal numbers. There are instances in marriage records where a researcher will come across and need to recognize these numbers.

French-Canadian News

American-French Genealogical Society, Woonsocket, RI-
French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan, Mount Clemens, MI-
Vermont Genealogy Library, Colchester, Vermont-

Language Tip #23-Ordinal Numbers

Ordinal numbers are found in marriage records when referring to dates, as in, “Après la publication des trois bans de mariage faite le premier, quinzième et vingt deuxième du mois d’aoust,” which means, “After the publication of three bans of marriage made the first, fifteenth, and twenty-second [day] of the month of August…”









…and the abbreviation ‘1er jour de Janvier’ (the first day of January)…

1er jour


…or when referring to a dispensation of the ‘premier degré d’affinité’ (the first degree of affinity)…





…or a dispensation due to the ‘quatrième degré de consanguinité,’ or fourth degree of consanguinity.




The French word for ‘first,’ ‘premier,’ is constructed differently than the rest. Its form must agree with the gender of the noun it is describing. Since ‘jour’ (day) is a masculine noun, ‘the first day’ would be written as ‘le premier jour.’ But if the noun is feminine, the word for ‘first’ becomes ‘première.’

The other ordinal numbers are formed by adding -ième to the end of the number’s root. So deux (two) becomes duexième (second). See the chart below for ordinal numbers up to thirty-one, the largest number representing the day of the month.

Ordinal numbers

Ordinal numbers

















Often you will find an abbreviation of an ordinal number in a record. Again, ‘premier’ is different from the rest. The abbreviation for the masculine form is usually 1er and for the feminine, 1re ( 1e or 1ère).

The ordinal numbers that end in -ième are abbreviated in one of several ways. Deuxième might be either 2e, 2me, 2ème, or 2è. See the chart below.

If a situation calls for a Roman numeral in the ordinal form, you simply follow the Roman numeral with a superscript E. So ‘seventeenth’ in ‘seventeenth century’ would be written as XVIIe.

Ordinal abbreviations






Now hopefully you’ll more easily recognize ordinal numbers when they appear in French records.

Sharing Franco Heritage with the Next Generation

Susan Pomasko, a 7th and 8th grade social studies teacher in Marlborough, New Hampshire, has both French-Canadian and Louisiana French ancestry. She discovered that many of her students, although living in an area with a large percentage of people with French-Canadian ancestry, had no clue about their heritage. So she set out to correct that situation.

Susan applied for and received a grant from the Rural School and Community Trust Fellowship. She used this grant to create a multi-grade scaffolded curriculum that would both immerse the French-Canadian students in their own culture, as well as celebrate the diversity of other cultures, at the community, state, regional, and national levels.

Some of the items we discussed were:

  • Susan’s trip to the Ukraine made her aware of how in touch these people were with their own cultural ancestry
  • Susan’s first assignment for her students was to go home and discuss their ancestry with family. Most students were French-Canadian with some Finnish, German, and English.
  • To get an idea of the French-Canadian experience in New England, Susan read Gerard J. Brault’s The French-Canadian Heritage in New England. This was followed by Peter N. Moogk’s La Nouvelle France: The Making of French Canada-a Cultural History which gave her an idea of the cultural norms that the immigrants brought with them to New England.
  • Susan used and discussions with family to study her own French roots.
  • Susan and her students were surprised to see how much of their daily lives was handed down through family traditions without even being aware of it.
  • Her project aligns with the Common Core standards at all levels and promotes interaction between the schools and the community.

To prepare for designing her curriculum, Susan traveled first to France. St. Malo was where many of the early explorers were from, and Susan visited the medieval castles and le Fort National, an island fort that protected the fortified city. [Photos courtesy of Susan Pomasko.]

Fort National in St. Malo

Susan Pomasko in front of the Fort National

Susan Pomasko in front of the Fort National








St. Malo, France

St. Malo, France

Then she traveled to La Rochelle, a city which saw many French-Canadian pioneers set off for the new world. The New World Museum there is dedicated to the relationship between France and the Americas. Her students followed her blog on Edmodo and completed assignments as she traveled.

Port of La Rochelle, France

Susan at La Rochelle

Susan at La Rochelle

Display at the New World Museum in La Rochelle

Display at the New World Museum in La Rochelle






After experiencing France, Susan’s journey took her to Québec, where she was amazed at the cultural and architectural similarities between the two. Here she visited the Musée de la Civilisation which explores French immigration and relations between the French and the Natives.

Walled city of Québec

Walled city of Québec








In Montreal she discovered the trade component and the canal system.


Trade and transportation in Montreal

Trade and transportation in Montreal

Montreal's cobblestone streets

Montreal’s cobblestone streets







Her curriculum can be found at her website, Investigating Our Cultural Heritage: The French Connection, at Along the top are tabs for each grade’s activities:

  • Grade 3-Town history and preservation
  • Grade 4-The Amoskeag Mills
  • Grade 5-Canada and early settlements
  • Grade 6-Medieval life in France
  • Grade 7-Understanding land use during 18th century America
  • Grade 8-Immigration

We mentioned the book Captors and Captives (an excellent look at the interaction between the French, English, and Natives).

This curriculum could be used for study of any ethnic group.

First graders are starting their family trees, and second graders are learning the music, songs, and stories of their ancestors.

[Clarification: SOME French-Canadians have Native American ancestors.]

Susan is trying to get funding to bring the eighth-graders to Québec for a field trip and a wonderful culmination to their eventual eight years of study.

Susan can also be reached through her school’s website, and she encourages suggestions and communication from other interested teachers or community members.

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3 comments on “MSS-023-Sharing Franco Heritage with the Next Generation

  1. Pingback: MSS-023-Sharing Franco Heritage with the Next Generation | Maple Stars and Stripes

  2. The Editor

    Interesting story and nice to hear that Susan Pomasko took on this project to help the young people in her community discover their culture. I would submit however that genealogical groups have largely failed in passing culture on to the next generation. While their strength might be genealogy, that does not necessarily encompass the totality of of our culture. Many people make the mistake in believing that genealogy is the only thing that is left. Many of us are working to reverse that idea and to move beyond a paradigm in which “culture” is a retirement project focused on genealogy.

    James LaForest

    1. Sandra Goodwin

      Interesting perspective, James. I think there is a shift taking place, though. Products like Zap the Grandma Gap ( are combining genealogy with family history and culture. Alas, there’s no French-Canadian version yet. 🙁 Hopefully we’ll see more of these attempts in the future. I don’t want to get too political here, but what I’ve observed over the years is a decline in passing on culture in proportion to a downward trend in church attendance. I think the church environment is where people retained their cultural bonds the longest.

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