Focus on France
Pinpointing the birthplace
To find your ancestor’s place of origin in France, thoroughly research in US records. Sources most likely to indicate the place of birth or last residence before immigration include living relatives, family papers and photos, vital records, passenger lists, naturalization records and obituaries. Church records may be especially helpful. France is an overwhelmingly Catholic country, and US Roman Catholic records may refer to the immigrant’s parish in France.
Finding civil vital records
Much of your research of French ancestors can be done in vital records of births, deaths and marriages. These records in France are divided into two categories: civil registers (état-civil) and parish registers (registres paroissiaux).