Researching French Documents

There are many exciting challenges when researching your family history in French documents. At, key data such as names and gender is often indexed and therefore easily accessible through our search pages for each French language database. However, the records are in French and you will naturally get the best results if you search keywords, occupations, and place names in French. There is often a wealth of information available in the images of the original documents that can help you pinpoint your ancestors or learn about their lives and families. We have provided some basic tools on these pages that can help you as you work in French records.


French Wordlists

These glossaries contain words that you are likely to find in French genealogical records.

French to English
English to French
Last Name Meanings

Reading French Records

See example pages from French records showing where key information is located.

Paris Death Index Card

Contact State Archives

Addresses, telephone, e-mail, and websites for each of the Departmental Archives in France

Departmental Archives in France

Additional Help

Ancestry offers the French researcher many sources of help. Search the Ancestry Learning Center for articles, post a query on the France Community pages, or find French Research publications in the Ancestry Store.

Learning Center
Community Wiki