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Here are 7 free online resources to find your ancestors


In this genealogy week, go and meet your ancestors using free and easy-to-consult online tools.

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Whether you are an amateur or a more experienced researcher, the free online resources offered by the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) can facilitate your genealogy and family history research.

Here are seven resources available in Digital BAnQ

1. Civil status registers

Civil status registers include acts and documents relating to the births, marriages, divorces and deaths of a person. They come from parish priests.

On the BAnQ website, you can find the Quebec civil status registers from 1877 to 1916, depending on the district. But be careful, you must know the year of the “act” sought. For example, if you are looking for information about your great-grandparents, you need to know the dates of birth, marriage, and death. Access these registers by clicking here.

To understand how this collection works, consult the search help in Quebec’s civil status registers, here.

If you do not know the dates of the events you are looking for, Ancestry.ca allows you to search by “names”. But this search engine is not free.

Familysearch.org is also a very useful and free site which brings together the registers from the beginning of the creation of parishes in Quebec, until the beginning of the 20the century.

2. Archives of Quebec notaries

Apart from parish priests, notaries are also inexhaustible sources of information on our history. They are the ones who are responsible for drawing up marriage contracts, property contracts, administrative acts, and others.

You will find some of the documents of the notaries of the 19e at the beginning of the 20e century in digital collection Archives of Quebec notaries, by clicking here.

To understand how to search from the Archives of notaries from Quebec, click here.

This BAnQ collection is currently being digitized and will certainly grow over time.

3. Nominal databases

A nominal database makes it possible to carry out a search by “name”. For example, if you could not find the wedding date of your grandparents, but you know their names, you might find information about their marriage in these nominal databases.

These online databases allow access to documentary resources, such as prison registers, court registers, censuses and many others. To access it, click here.

4. The BAnQ Catalog

The Catalog de BAnQ provides access to tens of thousands of books, genealogical dictionaries, geographical maps as well as family and local monographs.

To access the Catalog of all the documents and volumes published and archived at BAnQ, click here.

Inside this catalog is also all the volumes that have been digitized around the world.

5. Advitam

Here you will find documents and archival files from New France as well as millions of images of documents, photographs, postcards and more in the database Advitam.

Advitam is a new search tool to find archives of documents not published by a publisher, coming, for example, from private funds. You can discover archives related to certain themes such as electricity or the judiciary.

There are documents from the French regime, from the Sovereign Council [tribunal supérieur] of New France. Just enter someone’s name to find out if they have been brought to justice.

If you know what you are looking for, it is very easy to navigate.

6. Digitized maps and plans

Are you looking for a survey plan of a seigneury, a tourist map of Gaspésie, a bird’s-eye view of the Laurentians or an aerial photograph of Abitibi?

You may be able to locate the cartographic document you need in one of BAnQ’s local collections of maps and plans., “from the days of New France to the present day ”, click here.

7. Old Quebec journals and newspapers digitized in full text, click here.

Catholic Action, does that remind you of something? Well, it is now possible to consult this journal, as well as dozens of others from the turn of the last century. Some of the articles are fully digitized.

From BAnQ’s heritage collections, these magazines and newspapers bear witness to the daily, cultural, political, economic and scientific life of Quebec.

Like the other collections, they are being digitized, which means that we cannot find everything yet. But this is a good start.

Who knows, will you find information relevant to your genealogical research?

You do not know where to start?

The Quebec Federation of Genealogical Societies is also a good starting point. To join her, click here.



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