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I need help understanding all the chruch records, that are hand written in French. Is there someone or some place I can go to in order to get help translating these records? Thanks in advance.


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Most of the French records in the "drouin collection"-- you have births /marriages/death(burials)- in the registers.

On a page you can find in most cases any one of the them. (ex.- S 14)on the left hand side of the entry. S represent =Sepulture= eng.-Burial- It will have the time on death-sometimes his widow- or not to many details on family.The date is the day the individual  was buried. Sometime his age is mentioned too.

B= Baptism (Bapteme in french) ex.M 4 ( the 4th baptism in that month or year) the information given in most cases is the name of the child - the legitimate son of [Jean-Batiste Surname  et Marie Marguerite Maidenname] from this parish-it also states in all cases when he was born-- (on this day or in the eve of or the day before or a period of time before)

God parents- are also named-some even signed

M=Marriages ex: M 10- meaning the 10th marriage of the period registered(month or year) [most of the entries that I have encountered was for the year.This entry carries most information on an ancestor--no# of banns published- Full names - occpation-residence name of parish,church-name of parents SURNAME and Mothers maiden name-place of residence if different for either set of parents,their status-occution-sometimes names of witnesses and their relationship with the couple--signatures of those who could sign etc..---Hope this will give you some idea of this collection's revelings . RLT.

Thanks Richard

That helps. I've found Goggle translate works fairly well, but I'm still have a hard time reading the handwriting so many words do not translate because I believe I'm misspelling them

On the French-Canadian Descendants group here on GenealogyWise in the discussion section is some examples of church records (see attachments) Most are very similar in their format, so this will give you a good idea what they are saying. NOTE priests did make spelling mistakes also, so this can throw you off.  I would go to the used book store and invest in a French-English dictionary, this will prove helpful.  If the Google translation does not work use babelfish and see if that gives a different take.

Also don't be worried about "exact" spellings of surnames. In one marriage record the surname was spelled five different ways. Good luck. Jim.

Thanks James

Those will help. I have the French-English dictionary on order. I wish the records were typed, like your examples. Not knowing French, coupled with the records being had written and hundreds of years old, doesn't help. I can recognize the surnames, just can't read all of the stuff, can make out some words

Hi Pete,

I have a link that may help you to understand the old forms of handwriting better, it is a tutorial from the National Archives of England, from which I taught myself how to read old styles of writing (Palaeography), and I found it exceptionally helpful.

If you are going to be reading old parish records and wills, etc., it would be an excellent idea to study these - particularly the early 1700's styles, as they were commonly used on documents into the 1800's.


Good luck on your translations!


Thanks Wendy

I did a Google search of French Canadian Paleography and found this site:

which contains a pdf book titled French Extraction Guide. This appears to be just what I've needed. It basically does the same thing for French as the English guide you recommend above. Thanks so much for turning me on to this word Paleography.



Glad I could help. Sometimes all that is needed is the proper word to search on. If you get stuck or need some help, just let me know - I'm always happy to help, and transcriptions are a specialty of mine.


Cheers, Wendy




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