Over the past few weeks, I have received numerous requests for guidance on how to use Tanguay’s texts for genealogy research (and where to get them). I have to admit that it does seem a bit odd to me that these genealogy texts are not well understood. But after having received the requests, I did some searching on the web only to note that there are no real guides readily available for novices, so here’s my feeble attempt at creating one.
By way of a bit of background, the texts discussed here are called: Dictionnaire généalogique des Familles Canadiennes depuis la fondation de la colonie jusqu’à nos jours (Genealogical Dictionary of Canadian Families from the Founding of the Colony to Our Time). This body of genealogical work is generally recognized as the seminal work for all French-Canadian genealogy. It is “printed” in seven (7) volumes. This huge and historically significant textual documentation is most amazingly the work of but one single person, Father (Abbé/ Abbott) Cyprien Tanguay. To quote Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online:
To compile this genealogy of Canadian families Tanguay systematically examined the parish records of the country, indeed, of the whole of French-speaking North America, copying entries of baptisms, marriages, and burials. During his lengthy journeys through continental Europe he was able to examine in detail the holdings of strategic archives, such as the Dépôt des Archives de la Marine in Paris and collections in Belgium, Prussia and other German states, and Italy.
To begin with, every user of Tanguay’s texts needs to be clear on what these documents are and what they are not…
In the Public Domain and have been since 1952. As such, free electronic versions of the Tanguay texts are available on-line. The best version is currently resident in BANQ (Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec- National Library and Archives of Quebec). These are now Freely downloadable in pdf form. (Note: ManyRoads will be replacing our downloads with those from BANQ)
Volume 1 covers families 1608 to 1700. This includes all family surnames.
Volumes 2 to 7 cover families until ‘about’ 1765 although a very few lines reach as far as 1880.
Volume 2 covers family surnames Abel à Chapuy
Volume 3 covers family surnames Charbonneau à Eziéro
Volume 4 covers family surnames Fabas à Jinines
Volume 5 covers family surnames Joachim à Mercier
Volume 6 covers family surnames Mercin à Robidoux (and yes, that is my family surname…)
Volume 7 covers family surnames Robillard à Ziseuse
The original set of texts are released under ISBN 0-88545-009-4 (Ed. Elysee)
The texts are not:
Perfect; there are errors in the texts. Most seem to me to involve missing information rather than mis-information. And yes, there are texts providing corrections to Tanguay’s work. The errata text I am most familiar with was written by Joseph-Arthur Leboeuf; Complement a Tanguay (A compliment to Tanguay) a volume of 600 pages - which reports the errors and omissions of Tanguay.
When using Tanguay’s texts it is important to note that every entry includes: date and place of wedding of the married pair/couple, the husband and his father (located in the right hand margin), the wife and her father, and finally their children (note the children’s names are in italics.)
Events included in the records most frequently are baptisms (b), marriages (m) and burials (s).
Gleanings from the Registers (1 vol, 300 pages) – “À travers les registres” by Cyprien Tanguay, is a work of about 300 pages which contains hundreds of facts that are historically related to ancestors. This information was collected by Tanguay at the time of records perusal for the seven original volumes. (Available Free here.)
Directory of Canadian Clergy (1 vol, 600 pages) – “Répertoire général du clergé Canadien” by Tanguay. This work of Tanguay enumerates Roman Catholic clergy members from the beginning of New France to to 1880. This book gives historical and genealogical information of all clerical individuals and parishes where they worked. (Available Free here.)
I will be presenting a tutorial on conducting Quebec- Francophone Genealogy Research, September 10, 2011 at the:
Parker Colorado Genealogical Society
Stroh Ranch Fire Station
19310 Stroh Ranch Road
10 September 2011
Business Meeting: 1:30pm – 2pm
Speaker: 2pm – 3:30pm
I have created the following materials for use in the session for both:
advance preparation (awareness) –as well as–
for the session itself.
The materials will form the basis of our discussion and an advanced reading will ensure that we can have a more in-depth set of discussions and mentoring activities. I know that it is unusual to assign homework for a session but hopefully folks will find a small amount of advance reading makes the session more productive.
Canada has some of the world’s best documented family history information. This is especially true for Roman Catholic French Canadians. They were wonderful record keepers and the materials have been excellently preserved.
Over the years I have had the great good fortune of finding a number of small publishers/ booksellers who have, in their own ways, been most helpful. I hope you find some of these links and pointers useful in your New York and Quebec research.
Quintin Publications- Quintin Publications provides a wide array of professional genealogical research texts and document collections. Most of their texts focus on French Canada although they also publish materials from the British Isles and North America.
Clyde M. Rabideau – Heartnut Publishing- Clyde has been researching and writing books on the Robidous for many years and have tracked most of the descendants of Andre Robidou who came to Quebec in the mid 1600s. He also has published several books on the vital statistics for the 3 upstate New York counties of Clinton, Franklin and Essex.
American-French Genealogical Society- A genealogical & historical organization for French-Canadian research. They provide numerous self-published documents in addition to their association membership activities.
FrancoGene- In addition to numerous CDs and texts they claim to be the gateway to Franco-American and French-Canadian Genealogy on the Internet
Finding “French Canadian” North American ‘relatives’ can be quite a challenge. My searches most often lead me to southernmost Quebec (Bas Canada, near La Prairie and Lacolle areas) as well as to Northern New York (specifically Clinton County, NY). It seems that is the general area where most of my French-speaking forebears lived (from 1780- 1925); on occasion they manage to spill into the Quebec or Montreal areas, but that is almost always in the years before 1780. As you might know, the area I search is rather small geographically, as well as from a population perspective. But my observation has been, even though folks did not move around very much, they hid very well.
Over the years, I have learned a few hard fought lessons in doing my Francophone Quebec/ New York genealogy. I hope my series of tips & pointers will save some of you a few steps and maybe even some time in your searches.
Tricks? I use to uncover my French Canadian family data includes…
I almost always start by performing a quick search for folks using Ancestry.com records, especially the Drouin records. You will need Ancestry’s mega world license in order to make this function work well for you. Remember Canada is not part of the US and Ancestry licenses the use of these records with great pride and price. They are included in the WORLD license!
If you are unable to afford the International license fees for Ancestry (and many people are not predisposed to that exorbitant license fee), then the next best thing is FamilySearch.org. FamilySearch has almost all of the Drouin records indexed and, on top of that, they are very easy to read (page by page). Just remember you will want to have a reliable and super fast Internet connection for this ‘reading effort’. Otherwise, the reading will be pure torture, because of its slowness. You will find the FamilySearch Drouin records information filed under: Quebec, Catholic Parish Registers, 1621-1900 Obviously, as the title implies, this information has a rather strict time frame limit constraint associated with it. For more detailed searching and reading the following documents plus numerous additional tomes are now online…
“For best results”I recommend always performing steps 1 & 2.
As with any genealogy search, I also rely on Mocavo.com queries. I love to see what others may have found, about those people I search. You never know where good information will appear.
NosOrigines is one of the best online databases for French Canada. The data is almost always accurate and it is closely monitored for quality and accuracy, unlike the junk you find promoted on OneWorld or other Ancestry or FamilySearch supported family trees (all of which are extremely unreliable, in my experience…).
Research Rootsweb looking for clues & hints. I have found some very useful information on family members and their already published trees there! I generally find this to be the second most helpful source of family members right after NosOrigines.
For older materials there are two essential sources of data one is:
Cyprien Tanguay’s Dictionnaire Genealogique des Familles Canadiennes which may be found in two locations:
Once you find useful Census reports. I recommend you take the time to read every page of the relevant Census document – even when they are dozens of pages long. I do this in both US and Canada Census documents in hopes of finding clues beyond those available for my original searched ‘person’. I have had great success using this method to identify/ validate other related families, friends, and family stories.
I recommend you conduct extensive research on siblings to find clues about parents. This is also a useful method for finding name variations, relatives, etc.
Much like with any Census data I find, when I find a grave I searched every online cemetery record in the surrounding area in hopes of finding additional information about family or family members and relationships.
When I find a useful Church record, if I have access to the entire church record, I scan the document for additional siblings, events, etc. If I have ordered and received the Church microfilm for my use in the local LDS Family History Center, I place any productive Church film on permanent hold. I like to keep my folks nearby for when I get another bright search idea.
When I’m on the hunt, I use as many spellings of surnames and given names as I can invent to conduct queries.. never say never! Not only will you discover that Census takers took liberties with names; parish priests, newspapers, gravestone makers, etc. did as well. Additionally, I have noted that there are regional preferences in terms of name use in documents. For example, NY Catholic Church records seem to prefer Latinate variants where Canadian’s seem to stick with native French, but often use short hand.
In both data discovery and refinement phases of your search, I recommend searching/posting messages to seek or share information. The Message Boards I most often use are on Ancestry.com and Genealogy.com.
When looking for burial information on this side of the border (US side), I make extensive use of the Northern New York Tombstone Project. I have found quite a treasure trove of useful information in their online database.
If you have additional ideas you would like me to share, please send them along and I’ll update this page. In another post I will be adding information regarding “where to find” and “how to get” non-online source materials.
I have put this little reminder checklist together to help me and others quickly examine our obvious options when we either are stuck or just getting started.
This list is hardly exhaustive and if you try everything here without success you should not feel like you have to throw your hands up in despair, there are still many avenues to examine. Hopefully though, using these tools will prove useful and productive and fun.
Have you checked?
For basic name searches try these out. Not all of these tools are genealogy focused but they are all quite robust and helpful.
The use of Dit names in French Canada (Bas Canada) is both very common and confusing. Currently, I am working with another Deyo cousin to attempt to unravel yet another Deyo mystery. This part of my family line is now being reworked for the fourth time! I think I might be getting good at it. Briefly here’s the mystery…
It appears, now, that I might be descended from a woman we believe was named Honoree Beaulac. Her family name (surname) has the following common dit names (there may be others as well):
As you might well imagine, this combination of names gives us a little bit to search and rummage around in. More importantly if you are researching family members in Bas Canada, you too will certainly encounter this form of adventure. Enjoy the mystery and challenge!
Here is a list of some sites providing explanations of “Dit” names:
If you are performing research in Quebec, the Rituel du Diocèse de Québec may prove useful in providing clues regarding the name or names of your ancestors. To quote the PRDH:
Among Catholics, choice of first name wasn’t left to chance or parents’ imagination. On the contrary, the church liked to control the attribution of first names to ensure that on the day they were baptised, children received the name of a saint who would guide them throughout their life. In the Rituel du Diocèse de Québec, which laid out the rules to follow for writing baptismal, marriage, and burial certificates in Quebec, Monsignor de Saint-Vallier stipulated, “The Church forbids Priests from allowing profane or ridiculous names to be given to the child, such as Apollon, Diane, etc. But it commands that the child be given the name of a male or female Saint, depending on its sex, so that it can imitate the virtues and feel the effects of God’s protection.”