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Genealogical research in Paris

by Micheline Gutmann

This information is useful for beginners and also for experienced genealogists who may not know the problems involved in researching Paris.
Our list is almost exhaustive but could be expanded upon. Additional information can be requested from GenAmi. We recommend the booklet ‘Sur les traces de vos ancêtres à Paris’ which develops and illustrates a large number of non-religious sources. It is available to purchase from the National Archives and a copy is available in our library.

Specific Problems for Paris

Research in Paris poses specific problems for the following reasons:

  • Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements or districts each is basically acts as a separate town with its own ‘mairie’. It is rare that our members know the address or district that their family lived in.
  • All the civil records for the 20 districts prior to 1860 were at the 'Hôtel de Ville de Paris' and were destroyed in 1871. A small amount about 25% were reconstructed in 1872 mainly death records and marriages.
  • For the Seine Department, that’s to say Paris and surroundings there were no census taken before 1926, in other departments the census were held every 5yrs from 1836. Some exceptions exist for certain communes of the Seine from 1891.
  • Paris was the main place of attraction in France for Jewish families coming from other regions or countries. There has always been a large concentration of Jewish families in the capital. There has never been one single concentrated area of inhabitance, instead lots of small communities who so not seem to have left documents.

The most accessible sources

A - Public Archives

  • Civil Records

The birth, marriage and death registers from 1903 are found in the ‘mairies’ of Paris. To obtain copies of these documents it is necessary to know a rough date and the district, if the district is not known then a preliminary search can be done at
Tribunal de grande instance, Greffe de l'état-civil, 4 boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris,
Now, the request can be done online. the request can be done online.

With regard to the births and the marriages, the descendants can have access whatever the date. However, everyone can have communication of an act older than 75 years or an extract of this act, generally without filiations, for an event going back to less than 75 years. The death certificates are accessible to all whatever the date, at the Town Hall of the place where the person died and, until recently, they were also at the town hall of the persons’ residence.

The registers are transferred to the Paris archives every 10 years since their existence in 1793.

The registers prior to 1903 are at the Paris Archives, 18 boulevard Sérurier, Paris 19e. In general, they do not answer to correspondence and it is necessary to go there. The acts were microfilmed by the Mormons and can be consulted and photocopied in all the Mormon centres. For all the acts after 1860, it is necessary to know the district. If not it is necessary to research in the decennial tables of the various districts. For the reconstituted acts prior to 1860, knowledge of the district is not necessary.

  • The online consultation of the decennial tables and the civil records

Now we can consult the access cards to the reconstituted civil records (former to 1860), the decennial tables and the registers of civil records over the period 1860-1902. A programme of digitalization of the reconstituted acts is in hand. The indications of the access cards facilitate their consultation at the Paris Archives, Boulevard Sérurier. The acts after 1902 are still in the ‘mairie’ of districts and the procedure of request for extract is unchanged.
The digitalization of the documents was carried out in 2006, for the decennial tables from the third collection, known as ‘prefectorale’, and for the registers of civil records from the communal collection.

To reach this research-consultation.

On your computer, two system requirements :
- Software “Flash Player”, up to date, to visualize the digitized images. If it is not the case, an internet link will enable you to update your version.
- To print the images, your navigator must authorize the pop-up windows for this computer site.

For the access cards to the reconstituted civil records, research asks for the name (or the beginning of name) then the posted cards are shown sorted by the date of the act (all confused districts).
The district or the commune attached to Paris appears with their identification number or name known before 1860.
The software of consultation allows the printing of the act with an optional title.
The direct remote loading of the image of the act is not possible. But the usual techniques of capture of the image of your screen are applicable. In particular, the use of the key “Impr screen” and the command “Paste” enable you to insert this image in a file.

Notice on the access index to the segments of register of civil records :
The Paris Archives carried out the index which allows, according to the patronymic name and/or the date of the act, to guide you towards the segment of the digitized register which contains your name or your act.
Unfortunately, there are some errors in the writing of the start/end names or dates of some segments (for example, the date in 1834 instead of 1884). This error has for consequence that the date of the act that you found in the decennial table cannot, in this case, being required. A palliative : ask a close date in the same year then, at the top of the consultation screen, click on “Voir tout le registre (have a look at the entire register)”. This makes possible to move towards the required date and, if necessary, to consult the alphabetical table which is, generally, at the end of the register. She recapitulates the acts of the register (for the year or the part of year), while returning the identification number of the act.

A historical characteristic for certain districts, between March 18th and May 28th, 1871 :
By a law dated July 19th, 1871, the acts recorded under the Commune starting from March 18th, 1871, were cancelled (acts known as ‘bâtonnés (striped)’) then remade between August 1st and September 30th, 1871, but also in the years which followed.
Only the remade acts are referred in the decennial tables. Their date can thus differ enormously from the date of the event which they transcribe. Lastly, the ‘bâtonnés (striped)’ acts, made invalid, therefore were not destroyed and always appear in the registers. Their research is made in a way identical to the others.

  • Naturalisations

They are essential for the families coming from abroad in the 19th century. They often contain the names of the parents and their address and sometimes the persons siblings.
It is necessary to find the date and the decree number for the naturalization. This information is in all the large administrative libraries. Then it is necessary to request the file, approximately 2 weeks afterwards you can view it. To see files of naturalization that are less than 60 years old, it is necessary to ask for an exemption.
Consultation of the files from 1930 to 1941 (soon to include up to 1975) has to be at CARAN (Research center and reception of the public records) or in Fontainebleau. There is the CD-Romanian for the period of 1900 to 1950, which has the list of naturalizations. To obtain more detailed information, ask GenAmi.

  • The registration archives

contain the dates of death since 1791 and are accessible to all if they are over one hundred years, if not, then only to descendants. The tables of death and the declarations of succession are in the Paris archives. With that information you can then see if there any notarial acts in the various notarial funds. Very interesting if one knows at least an approximate place and date of death, especially for the period preceding 1860.

  • Census

From 1926 accesible on microfilms in the Paris archives if you know the family or persons’ address.

  • Electoral register

For those with French nationality, need to know the district.

  • Military archives

In Vincennes for the French. But also in the files at Paris Archives from 1868 and gives invaluable information. Base Leonore on Internet for the holders of the Legion of honor since its creation and deceased before 1954.

  • Directories or almanacs

Especially for the professions (Didot-Bottin), at Paris archives or in large libraries, those from 1805 are at the Paris town hall library

  • Préfecture de Police Museum Files

contain a partial file of people from abroad who made a statement under the laws of 1888 and 1893 1 bis, rue des Carmes, 75005 Paris. See GenAmi no 17.

  • Registres des hôpitaux

In particular the Rothschild Foundation register. For 18th see GenAmi no 10.

  • The Bastille files

Contains a large number of reports concerning the Jews of Paris during the 18th century. The list of these documents is in "modern Documents on the Jews", Nelle Gallia Judaïca, under the direction of Bernhard Blumenkrantz, edition E Privat, 1979. Available from our library.

  • Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal

Lists of surnames of those who lived in Paris and their origin, passports individual, letters.

  • Administrative library of the town of Paris (Town hall):

lists of naturalization and the bulletins, almanacs - commercial and industry, there is an important file of personalities, returns, dictionaries, books, reviews, etc

  • Cemeteries

Some cemeteries were provided for Jews at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of 19th, by example in like that of la rue de Flandre or Montrouge. After that, only sections of the large Parisian cemeteries were reserved. There are some exceptions outside Paris, for example the Pershing cemetery in Versailles.
Principal cemeteries which have a Jewish section and their date of opening:

- Père-Lachaise open in 1804, divisions 7 & 96
- Passy, 1820, Batignolles, 1833
- Montparnasse, 1824, divisions 5,24,25,28,29,30
- Montmartre, 1825, division 3
- Pantin, 1825, 37 divisions israélites
- Bagneux, 1886, 26 divisions israélites
- Thiais, many divisions

A search for the place of the burial can be carried out by the administration of the cemeteries of Paris, with the provison of knowing an approximate date. By presenting some documents in proof (the conditions are very strict: information are given only to descendants of the tomb owner), you can ask for a card containing the list of all the people who were buried in the same vault and who are not inevitably quoted on the tomb stones or monument.
The search for people buried in Parisian cemeteries can be done by email.

B - Private Files or more Specific

Consistoire des Israélites de Paris Archive

This archive can be consulted by arranging an appointment. You can write to Monsieur le directeur des Archives du Consistoire, 17, rue Saint-Georges, 75009 Paris. These records often contain very useful and complete information:

Censuses: : 1809 complete, 1852 which comprises of only the heads of household, of 1872, where information is rather incomplete. GenAmi computerized the 1809 and 1872 which are available to members.

Religious marriages: They were recorded from 1823 to 1875 at the only official synagogue, rue Notre-Dame-de-Nazareth. They do not indicate date or place of birth. From 1872, they in generally include the birth date and place, sometimes the signatures of witnesses. From 1875, other synagogues were opened and it is necessary to search in the registers of each one, Genami has computerised the registers of the synagogue in rue de Nazareth.

Religious burials it is necessary to know the date.

Alliance Israélite Universelle Library

It contains a considerable number of works of all kinds. With regard to Paris, the announcements published in the L'Univers israélite are very useful.

C - Files related to the Holocaust

The list of the deportees from Drancy camp, or the Memorial of Serge Klarsfeld, book or CD-Rom by name and place of origin. The two versions are at GenAmi.

The "Jewish File" comprises additional information and cards of people arrested and/or deported including information which is not in the Memorial. Microfiches to be consulted at CARAN.

The C.D.J.C - Shoah Memorial publishes leaflets which often include information on deported families. some additional information are available on their website.

Files concerning despoilement requests after 1945, Archives de Paris. Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations.

Préfecture de police Museum (list of the Jews belongings deposited at the time of their detention in Drancy camp).
1 bis, rue des Carmes, 75005 Paris.
For the last two paragraphs, it is essential to refer to the article entitled " Spoliations, une démarche instructive", published in GenAmi n° 13

Yad Vashem have put online . information and declarations regarding those who were deported

D - GenAmi Ressources

They are varied types: books, reviews, many files, lists of ascendancies of our members, stories and family genealogies, marriages records, cemeteries:

Many cemeteries lists

a list of 100 Jewish names who participated in the revolution of 1790, and an extract from 'Les Juifs de Paris pendant la Révolution’ by the same author.

The manual professions and the institutions of patronage by Leon Kahn, Durlacher 1885, comprises several lists of Jews enroled into the service of France at the beginning of the 19th century, a list of the Jewish apprentices, an analysis of the census of the Consistory of 1809, professional lists. Copies available (7,50 euros)

Mariages religieux juifs à Paris 1848-1872, by Anne Lifshitz-Krams
GenAmi possess a list of religious marriages from 1823 to 1848.

Mariages juifs à Paris de 1793 à 1802, by Claudie Blamont.- Revue du CGJ, issues 57 and 58 (Spring & Summer 1999).

Souscripteurs de la Bible, new translation by S. Cahen, published in 1831. Includes a list of families in Paris and elsewhere. Includes booksellers, rabbis, priests, officials and individuals List supplied by Patrick Gordis

List of membres of la Société des études juives in 1893, with their addresses

Communauté des Juifs portugais à Paris, 1785-1795

Many cemeteries lists, by Gérard Nahon,R.E.J. 1970.

Alsacians in Paris in 1806, and circumcision list of mohel Jacob Schweich in Paris between 1775 and 1801 (see GenAmi n° 19).

Who's who 1979/80 and Bottin mondain 1970.

The Belgian File includes information about Parisian inhabitants.

Some members possess various documents.

We can give the information contained in these documents or send copies.