MSS-065-The Drouin Institute’s Lafrance Database and the PRDH

65Episode 065-September 1, 2017

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Most French-Canadian researchers have heard of the Drouin Institute and the PRDH. Today, Bertrand Desjardins of the PRDH tells the history of these two institutions as well as their co-operative venture in bringing us two extremely helpful databases that make French-Canadian researchers the envy of other ethnic genealogists.


Drouin Institute

  • The Institute began in the early 20th century.
  • It is a private genealogical research institute.
  • Its goal as early as the 1940s was to microfilm full Quebec parish registers.
  • Early on, they indexed marriages only and then built genealogies for people and sold them.
  • That set of microfilms includes Quebec parishes as well as French-Canadian parishes in Ontario, the Maritimes, and the US.
    Typed indexes became the male and female Blue Drouins. They include mostly Quebec parishes with a few annotated additions.
  • The Red Drouin is a one-volume dictionary of marriages up to about 1765.
  • Drouin microfilms were digitized by Pepin and Robert and put online.
  • The LaFrance database is a quality, computerized index of the marriages as well as baptisms and burials; not only the subjects are indexed, but parents as well. The indexing was completed by French-Canadians. Each index includes a direct link to the image.
  • LaFrance baptisms and burials go up to 1849 complete and partial up to 1861.
  • La France marriages are up to 1916.


  • This is a university research program started in the 1950s. Parish registers were used for statistical purposes.
  • This program reconstituted families. It linked acts of baptisms, marriages, and burials to individuals and then built them into family units.
  • Once the families were reconstituted, individual names were no longer needed for demographic studies. An outcry from genealogists persuaded the university to keep the names.
  • Marketing this data to genealogists helped to fund the university research.


Working together

  • The goal of the Drouin Institute was to reconstitute the entire French-Canadian population up through the 20th century. It made sense to join with the PRDH. The Drouin Institute continues to index the records, and the PRDH continues to reconstitute the families.
  • The original goal of the PRDH was to reconstitute families up to 1849, right before the beginning of the censuses. Now, the hope is to go further, in ten-year periods. The Drouin Institute is indexing the baptisms and burials from 1850-1861. Then the PRDH will use that index to further reconstitute families.
  • A further goal is to reach out to French-Canadian parishes outside of Quebec.
  • The Drouin Institute now publishes the PRDH database.

What you can do for free


  • Necrologies-contemporary death registrations from Quebec newspapers and funeral homes. They are added monthly and begin in the 1990s.


  • You can conduct a search for an individual, and a list of results will come up. If you click on the parish name, it takes you to a free map of all the parishes in existence before 1850 for which the PRDH has records. If you click on the date of the act, you will need a subscription to see the record.
  • There are other tools available for free. One such tool is a name standardization search box for given names, surnames, and dit names. This allows you to type in a name and receive corresponding dit names or name variations.
  • There is also a pioneer name search which allows you to discover whether everyone with a particular surname descends from one common ancestor, as all the Sourdifs, or if there’s a possibility of several ancestors with the same name, as in Hebert.
  • You will also find a list of the filles du roi along with the name of their spouses and dates of marriage.

The LaFrance Database


  • The database is beginning to include Protestant marriages for Catholics who married Protestants.
  • If you need to find a fairly recent marriage in Quebec, use the Marriages and Deaths 1926-1997 database. Then search for 1916 or earlier marriages in the LaFrance. Once your research takes you back to 1849, use the reconstituted families in the PRDH.
  • Baptisms and burials currently go up to 1849, but monthly additions are made to the records for the 1850-1861 timeframe.

Missing parishes

  • Two copies of the parish records were kept. One remained with the parish; the other was turned over to civil authorities. But still there are some portions of the records that do not survive. If you, the user, find pages missing from any of the records, contact the Drouin Institute and let them know so they can correct it, if possible.
  • Inventaire des registres paroissiaux catholiques du Québec 1621-1876, a book by Pauline Bélanger and Yves Landry, provides a list of missing records on p. xii from the church copy microfilmed by the Church of Latter Day Saints. This book is an inventory of the civil copy up to 1790 and the church copy up to 1876.


Video: The Lafrance Database and the PRDH

If you’re new to French-Canadian genealogy or to either or both of the PRDH or Lafrance databases, then this video is for you. You will learn what each database offers and how they work together to make your research effortless.



Three types of searches

  • Individual name search-A program is written into the software that allows you to search for a name one way and all variations will be reported. Keep in mind that when a man died, usually the spouse’s name was not given. A search for an individual will produce results if that person were the subject of the record or the parent of the subject.
  • Couples search-easiest way to search for children of a couple
  • Parish search-If a name was difficult to read or some error was made, you might have to browse through the parish records, using date qualifiers. A search of burial records at a certain time period is good for checking for deaths as a result of epidemics or battles.


  • Check this box if you want the program to include all similar names in the result, even if those names are not family-related.

Wildcard searches


Here’s an example of using a wildcard character to cover many surname variations in one search.

wildcard search

  • Don’t be too precise in your first search (unless names are very common). For a couple, use both surnames and a wide time frame. Get more precise if needed.

The near future

  • 1850-1861 baptisms and burials
  • 1917 marriages
  • More indexing



  • Your subscription differs based on whether you reside in Quebec, in Canada outside of Quebec, or outside of Canada.
    It is also based on number of hits

Genealogy Quebec

  • Your subscription to Genealogy Quebec  is based on whether you reside in Quebec, in Canada outside of Quebec, or outside of Canada.
  • You can subscribe yearly, monthly, or daily. When you subscribe yearly, there are a maximum 150 images per day (I have never come close to this). A monthly or daily subscription gives you 75 images per day.

Why not both?

With a subscription to both PRDH and Genealogy Quebec, you get:

  • Ease of moving between the reconstituted families and the original records
  • A bonus 10% hits based on your prescription level at PRDH

Contact information

Get your 50 free hits

If you already have a subscription to PRDH:

  • Go to
  • Enter your last and first names, the email address you used when you signed up for the PRDH, and your PRDH user name.
  • Your account will be credited with 50 extra hits.

If you do not have a subscription to PRDH:

  • Choice 1-
    Subscribe to PRDH, and then follow the instructions above.

Choice 2 (a trial subscription)-

  • Go to for English, or substitute “fr” in place of the “en” for the French site.
  • Enter a User Name, password, and your email address. Be sure to write these down somewhere.
  • Click Next.
  • Exit the process where it asks for the number of hits you want to subscribe to, and your account will be created.
  • Now go to
  • Enter your last and first names, the email address, and your PRDH user name. You will soon be able to use the PRDH.
  • Extra: If you decide to subscribe to Genealogy Records, you will also get a 10% bonus in hits as well.

Ask your questions

Bertrand Desjardins has agreed to answer questions in the new Maple Stars and Stripes Facebook group. So if you haven’t joined yet, head over to and ask away.


Survey 65

Let your voice be heard! Which of the Genealogy Quebec databases would you like to see featured in the next Drouin Institute podcast? Go to and select your top five favorites.

Featured Blog

If you have Ouellette (Ouellet, Willette, Willet) ancestors from the United States or Canada, check out the marriage records on Gaston Ouellet’s blog, Ouellet-te, Willet-te Families and Ancestors.

Nouvelle France Tour 2018

Time is running out to join the Nouvelle France Tour 2018. As of this recording, there are only five seats left. Check out the itinerary at

French-Canadian News

What's Happening Header



The American-French Genealogical Society

  • September 10, 1 PM: Ben Levine, a video artist and documentary film maker, will present his powerful documentary, Réveil — Waking up French.
  • September 10, 7 PM: Ben Levine-Reclaiming Your French Language.
  • September 16, at 10 AM: Peter Gagne, author of the 2-volume set King’s Daughters and Founding Mothers about the filles du roi as well as the book Before the King’s Daughters: the Filles à Marier, 1634-1662, will present Who were Les Filles à Marier?
  • September 17, from 1-4 PM: AFGS open house
  • September 30, 10 AM: Dennis Boudreau-Things You Should Know When Doing French Canadian Genealogy.

All events are held at the AFGS Library Building, 78 Earle Street, Woonsocket, RI.

The French Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan

The Quebec Family History Society

  • September 16 at 10:30 AM, at the Briarwood Presbyterian Church Hall in Beaconsfield: Montreal in 1909. If your ancestors lived in Montreal during that year, you will learn about the day-to-day lives of your ancestors over a century ago and what they experienced in their daily routine – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The French-Canadian Genealogical Society in Tolland, CT

  • October 14, 1-4 PM: October Annual Meeting. All classes are free and are held at the FCGSC Library in Tolland. Lucie LeBlanc Consentino will present a 2-hour presentation on Acadian History and Genealogy. The meeting will be held at the United Congregational Church of Tolland.

The Vermont French-Canadian Genealogical Society

  • September 16: Sheila Morris will teach a Beginning Genealogy Class.
  • September 23: Organizing Your DNA Test Results with Ed McGuire.

Classes run from 10:30 AM until noon and are held at the Vermont Genealogy Library in Colchester, Vermont.

The American-Canadian Genealogical Society




One comment on “MSS-065-The Drouin Institute’s Lafrance Database and the PRDH

  1. patnbrian

    Wonderful podcast! Used PRDH for years and love it. Then started using LaFrance and now am trying to find the best way to go between the two in the most efficient manner. That’s my question for Bertrand! Well done both of you!

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