(France) French Civil Registration Records

Posted by: Jan Meisels Allen

France has a long history of civil registration of births, marriages and deaths--starting in 1792.  It covers people of all denominations. French records also include "margin records"-- these are hand-written notes that may lead to additional records.  Records of civil registration are typically held in registries in the local town hall, with copies deposited each year with the local magistrate's court. Records over 100 years old are placed in the Archives Départementales (series E) and are available for public consultation. Many Departmental Archives have placed portions of their holdings online, often beginning with the civil records.   To read more about French civil records see: http://tinyurl.com/9j4v2v9

Most civil registration records, however, are accessible only by knowing the town,  identifying the department that now holds those records and locating the online holdings of the Archives Départementales for your town.  One place to search for these are: http://tinyurl.com/9qkzw6q
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However, online access to the indexes and digital images has been restricted to 120 years by the Commission Nationale de l'informatique et des Libertés (CNIL)--due to concern over privacy. This restriction has been in effect since late 2011. Forbidden access on the Internet includes the publication
of certain information about people, whether living or dead. That information includes: racial or ethnic origins, political opinions, philosophies or religions, memberships to groups or associations, health, sexuality, crimes, convictions, imprisonments AND marginal notes on civil registrations.  The prohibition of including religion or ethnic origins impedes searching for Jewish records.
To read more on the CNIL edict see: http://tinyurl.com/8lmd7x2
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Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Vice President
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

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