Saturday, February 23, 2013

Tackling the Québec Drouin Collection for English Speakers - Part 3

This is a continuation of a series of "how-to" for English speakers to more easily decipher the Québec Drouin Collection records (although it may help you in other French records as well).  Part 1 of the series can be read here.

Through this series of posts, I will cover determining the type of event, the dates of the events recorded (baptism, marriage burial), the dates of birth and death for baptism and burial records, the individual's name, the individual's marital status, the individual's spouse or parents' names, and where the event occurred, among other facts.

If you have any questions (in general or specific to your research), corrections, additions, or anything else, please do not hesitate to leave a comment or email me directly!

Baptism Records

First, you will see the baptism date written out, as described in the previous posts.  Let me just reiterate a key note: the date starting off the record is not necessarily the date of birth.  This is a baptism record, so the date that begins the record will be the date of baptism.  You will have to read further to determine date of birth.  Slight tangent - This is especially important if you're using an Ancestry family tree and input both a baptism and birth date.  The online baptism records don't seem to attach to the birth fact on (they make you create a baptism fact), although you can manually attach the proper record using Family Tree Maker 2011.

Second, you should find the words "été baptisé" followed by the child's given name, middle name(s) if any, and surname.  This is the name that's also in the page margin, so occasionally all or part of the name may be omitted to avoid repetition.  Generally this is all part of a larger phrase meaning "On [date] we baptized [child's name]..."

The date of birth often comes immediately after the child's name.  Reading through the record, you should look for the word "née," which means "born" and is followed by a reference to the birth date.  The birth date will not be written out like the baptism date was at the beginning of the record.  Instead, you will usually find one of the following:
  •  "ce jour" or "le même jour" - "this day" or "the same day," in which case the baptism date and birth date are identical
  • "hier" or "la veille" - "yesterday" or "the day before," meaning the the birth date is one day before the baptism date
  • "l'avant-veille" - I believe this means "the day before yesterday," so the birth date is two days before the listed baptism date
  • "[number in French] du [sometimes de ce instead of du] mois" - the [number] of this month; essentially the birth date is the number date listed in this spot in the same month as the baptism date
Next, either after or before the "née" section, will be the child's parents' names.  They come immediately after the phrase "du légitime mariage de."  The father's given name and surname will come first, followed by "et de" or another form of "and of," and then the mother's given name and maiden surname are second.  Sometimes there is a word or two between the father's name and the "et de."  This word or phrase indicates the father's profession.

Often the parents' names are followed by a phrase indicating what parish the parents belong to, or where they live.  Sometimes a child will be baptized in one parish, but the parents will live in/attend another.  After the parents' names, look for the word "de" meaning "of."  Usually, it will say something similar to "de cette paroisse" to indicate that the parents live in that parish area.  Sometimes, however, "de" will be followed by the name of another parish.  While my method may not be accurate all of the time, I generally assume that the child was born where the parents reside, since births usually occurred at home in earlier time periods.

The final piece of the baptism record lists the child's godparents, who are likely to be related by blood or marriage to the child.  Occasionally the relationship to the child will even be given (although, like anything else, I have seen mistakes here).  "Le parrain a été," meaning "The godfather was," is followed by the godfather's given name and surname, then "et la marraine," meaning "and the godmother," is followed by the godmother's full maiden name.

Some family relationship terms that may be used to describe a parent's or godparent's relationship with the child:

  • père - father
  • mère - mother
  • frère - brother
  • soeur - sister
  • oncle - uncle
  • tante - aunt
  • grand-père - grandfather
  • grand-mère - grandmother