France Project Reliable Sources

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This page provides a list of sources recommended by the France Project for work on Pre-1700 profiles.


Work in progress

If your favourite source for French pre-1700 profiles is not listed below, please ask a question about it, either in the France Google Group or in G2G with the tag FRANCE - so that the source can be evaluated and added to this page.

Reliable Sources

  • Parish records: baptisms, marriages, burials, and other acts such as confirmations, recantations... These are available through the Departmental Archives (Archives Départementales) according to the department where the place of the event currently belongs. They can be consulted in person at the Archives or, in most cases, online through the different Archives website. List of Departmental Archives websites and how to use them.
  • Notarial archives: marriage contracts, wills, etc. These will also be available through the Departmental Archives, though usually not online. Some Parisian archives can be accessed through Geneanet, but most are post-1700.
  • Anselme de Sainte-Marie (augustin ; 1625-1694), Histoire généalogique et chronologique de la maison royale de France, des pairs, grands officiers de la Couronne, de la Maison du Roy et des anciens barons du royaume, Paris (1726-1733), 9 volumes available at Gallica: While there are issues with some of the pre-1300 genealogies, this work is reliable after 1500.
  • Detlev Schwennicke (ed.), Europäische Stammtafeln: Stammtafeln zur geschichte der Europäischen Staaten, Neue Folge Band X : Pairs de France und ihre Familien, Marburg: J.A. Stargardt, 1986: reliable post-1500; there may be reservations regarding the earlier tables.
  • ...

Unreliable Sources

  • A tree without sources is insufficient as a source for WikiTree profiles.
  • Geneanet trees: Geneanet trees are user-contributed trees, many of them unsourced.
    • A tree with precise dates and places will usually be a good guide of where to look for primary records. Please take the time to look for the source and check it for yourself. Do not cite the Geneanet tree as your only source: it is courteous to give credit (under See also); however when the tree exists in multiple copies on the net you may not be crediting the original builder.
    • When a tree does present sources, please take the time to look up the original sources. Give credit.
  • Other user-contributed trees: FamilySearch, Ancestry, Geni, MyHeritage, Rootsweb, WikiTree, the Peerage, family association websites, etc. See Geneanet trees.
  • Published databases containing information of uncertain origin: There are a number of "records" collections available on websites such as Ancestry and MyHeritage (and in some instance formerly distributed on CD-ROM) that do not identify their information sources and in fact are built in whole or in part from doubtful publications and user-contributed content. These include the "Family Data Collection" and similar sources associated with Edmund West, the "Ancestral File," the "Millennium File," the "Pedigree Resource File," and "U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900."
  • Third party indexes: Indexes created outside of the Archives are not considered reliable. They are a good tool to use in order to find an actual record, but are not a reliable source on their own. This includes FamilySearch's International Genealogical Index (IGI).
  • Find A Grave memorials: Most pre-1700 memorials come without an actual burial place and burial details, and are in fact reconstructed from trees. These cannot be used as sources. Some memorials, for instance those for royals interred at Saint-Denis, are reliable, but there are usually other good sources available for these people.
  • Capedia: The profiles on Capedia have no direct sources and many are user-contributed. Capedia can be used to find quickly how people may be descended from a royal line (this can provide useful leads for connectors), but should not be used as a source.
  • (François Marchi's website): This site uses a wide range of sources, including a lot of user-contributed, and unverifiable, information. Any information attributed to "courriel de X..." should be disregarded. Some of the contributors can be found on other genealogy sites (Geneanet) where it is clear that they collected their data from online trees.
  • NosOrigines: NosOrigines is user-contributed. If the NosOrigines pages have sources, look for the sources instead, don't use NosOrigines.
  • Francogene: Denis Beauregard's website cites sources, but without showing clearly the facts they support and some of them are of questionable quality. Francogene is a good site to use for clues but should always be checked against other, more reliable sources.
  • Roglo: per the site's disclaimer, "the Roglo database is not an absolute reference and may contain errors... Remember to check other sources".
  • Nicolas Viton de Saint-Allais (author of Nobiliaire Universel de France and numerous other genealogy books): Viton de Saint-Allais's genealogy work is considered "of poor value", and should only be accepted with extreme caution. It contains many approximations and occasionnally artificial connections. Use better noted genealogists instead, such as Anselme, d'Hozier, Jougla de Morenas, or Chaix d'Est-Ange.
  • Jean-Baptiste-Pierre Jullien de Courcelles (Dictionnaire Universel de la Noblesse de France), while is reputation is not tainted like Nicolas Viton de Saint-Allais's, bought Saint-Allais's practice and continued his work, and for this reason should be used with caution.

Frauds and fabrications

Be aware of the possibility of frauds and fabrications used to create connections to noble or otherwise desirable ancestors. There is a whole category listing some of the known frauds:

  • Frauds and Fabrications, including the
    • Gustave Anjou Fraud where some lines are fraudulent French aristocratic lineages. This is not one single publication - Anjou made his living in America over three decades by selling fabricated genealogies to individual customers. Some of his publications include fake ancestries for New France settlers.

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Comments: 6

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Recommend: Les Archives nationales d'outre-mer and particularly the IREL Digitised Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths. The scope of the database is as follows: "Territories which were at one time or another part of the French colonial empires from the XVIIth Century" may be searched by year and community.

See: You may use this system to search for the year of an event (such as a birth, a marriage, death or other civil action), and the territory where the event occurred, and then read through resulting scanned images of records as originally written in the French language (these are not transcribed). My experience was that it was surprisingly easy to search for, locate, read through the scanned image records and verify with high confidence several family genealogies using the search and reading tools provided by this system. I plan to reference it again.

posted by M. Asselia Rundquist
edited by M. Asselia Rundquist
Thank you M, they are listed under the "archives départementales" for parish records and they are the very first source we recommend!
posted by Léa Haupaix
I am looking to verify (as best possible) the ancestry of Vincent LeBrun/Brun, the 1st French/Acadian immigrant to Acadia. He was born about 1611. I have unofficial documentation that his ancestors are (in this order): Louis LeBrun (b 1582); Claude LeBrun (b 1545); Pierre LeBrun (b 1498); Pierre LeBrun (b 1462); Jacques LeBrun (b 1424); Jacques LeBrun (b 1382), and Guillaume (?) LeBrun (b 1356).

Is there any official records of any of these persons, that can verify some of the unofficial information I have been provided?

posted by Michael O'Brien
I am currently working with Danielle Liard on creating a similar list for the Québécois project. You can find it at Both sources will be included once we are finished with our initial edits to the page.
posted by Greg Lavoie
Is not PRDH a source for New France, rather than European France?

BMS2000 also seems Québec oriented.

I recommend (sometime less reliable) and (maintained by genealogical societies, one-on-one parish records) to be included in this list.
posted by Dave Poirier