Acadian-Cajun Genealogy & History

Acadian Genealogy

The True Acadian Period: 1604-1755

COMPILED WORKS: Acadian & French-Canadian

Acadian Works

     One of the oldest compilations was done by Placide Gaudet at the beginning of the century.  He died before completing his Acadian Dictionary, but many of his Acadian Notes and Genealogy are available for us to use.   Some libraries may have a copy of his notes in microfilm format (reels C-2238 to C-2241), which can also be borrowed/purchased from the Canadian Archives.  They were published in the Canadian Archives' Annual Report in 1905. Since Gaudet starting compiling material in the late 1800's, he was able to talk to people who were only one or two generations removed from pre-Exile times. 
     Other genealogists, like Fathers Gallant and Hector Hebert, compiled numerous notes on Acadian genealogy.  These manuscripts can be found at the Centre d'Etudes acadiennes, but have not been published. 
     Histoire et Genealogie des Acadiens by Bona Arsenault comprises 6 volumes and has long considered to be one of the foremost works in researching Acadian genealogy. The first is a history of the Acadians (also available in English), while the other 5 list families by location.  The volumes cover the following locations: 
         V. 2 - Port Royal
         V. 3 - Beaubassin, Grand Pre
         V. 4 - Pisiguit, Cobequid, Chipoudy & Petitcoudiac, Cap de Sable & Pobomcoup, Riviere St. Jean, Ristigouche.
         V. 5 - Plaisance, Ile Royale, Ile St. Jean
         V. 6 - Iles St. Pierre & Miquelon, Iles de la Madeleine, Bordeaux, Belle Ile en Mer, Louisiana
Although the work is in French, you can determine the relevant data by learning a few key words. An index, a dictionary of French terms, and two books of corrections for this work have been produced, Corrections ... by Janet Jehn and Discrepancies ... by Don Boudreaux (see the Book list). Mr. Arsenault made numerous guesses, so please try to find the source (which isn't given) for the material.  Also, note that the page numbers of the original 1960s edition and the reprint edition are different. 
     Le grand réarrangement des Acadiens by Adrien Bergeron comprises 8 volumes. It covers many families arranged by surname. It begins with the Acadian progenitors and continues into their (primarily) Canadian descendants. At the begining of each surname, there is a discussion of the family.  Some surnames have very little, and some have many pages of this introductory discussion.  Even if you don't read French, the genealogy portion is easy to understand.  Like Arsenault, Bergeron's work has its share of mistakes. 
     If you are looking for a book plagued with unconfirmed data ... Familles Acadiennes is a multi-volume work by Leopold Lanctot that goes into more detail about the first few generations of many of the early Acadian families. It is only available in French. Since it is more prose and less names/dates than Arsenault's work, it is harder to understand if you can't read French. I've found that it has data not found elsewhere, but that information is not documented; so be careful. I wouldn't use the information unless documentation could be found.
Stephen White presents the Dictionnaire
THE DICTIONNAIRE
    Now we go from one of the least reliable sources to the best compiled work on Acadian genealogy.  Stephen White of the Centre d'Etudes acadiennes, after 25 years of work, has completed his work on the first part of the Dictionnaire genealogique des familles acadiennes.  Using the work of his predessesors and all of the resources of the Centre, he has put together THE definitive reference work on Acadian genealogy. 
     The first part, released in August 1999, covers families where the marriage occurred between 1636 and 1714.  The second part covers families, where the marriage occurred between 1715 and 1780, will be released in about 14 volumes.  As a volume is completed (starting with the beginning of the alphabet), it will be released.  The Centre also plans on putting the basic research data (covering both parts) at some point in the future (for a fee).

     Please remember that these works were compiled by people, and people do tend to make mistakes.  Some sources may be reliable (White's Dictionnaire), while some are very suspect (Lanctot's Familles).  The others fall somewhere in between.  As noted above, Bona Arsenault's set, which has been around for 3 decades, has enough errors that two books of corrections have been compiled.  Father Bergeron and Placide Gaudet also have their mistakes.  Since many of us do not have access to the primary documents, we frequently rely upon the work of others.  If they document the data, you can feel more assured of its accuracy.  The best thing to do, if primary documentation is not available to you, is to utilize as many secondary sources as possible. 
     Many other books, often focusing on a family or group of families have been compiled.  Please consult the Book list for additional works.

French-Canadian Works

     The three major French-Canadian are Tanguay, Jette, and Drouin.  Since Acadia was considered part of New France at times, and since many Acadians migrated to New France ... you will find many Acadians in these works. 
     Rev. Cyprien Tanguay completed a 7 volume set of records in the late 1800s called Dictionnaire Genealogique des Familles Canadiennes.  It's material begins about 1608 and extends to material at and shortly after the Exile (1760+/-).  Many libraries in Louisiana, Canada, New England, and elsewhere will have a copy.  A complement to his set was done by Arthur LeBoeuf with corrections and additions, and is available in print or on microfiche.  If you would like to purchase your own copy of Tanguay's Dictionnaire, Quintin Publications has it on CD-ROM, hardcover books, and on microfiche. Originis also has it on CD-ROM.
    Rene Jette compiled a Dictionnaire Genealogique des Familles du Quebec des Origines a 1730.  Also available from Quintin Publications, this large single volume is often found at libraries in areas of French-Canadian descendancy.  It lists vital records in Quebec up to the year 1730. 
    The Drouin, called Dictionnaire National des Canadiens Francais, contains marriage up to 1760 listed by husband's name.  Only a limited number were produced by the Drouin Institute. The American-French Genealogical Society purchased the the copyrights to the Red Drouin (National Dictionary of French-Canadians 1608-1760); the 49 volume Blue Drouin (the marriages of Quebec from 1760-1940 indexed by the groom), and the microfiche of the Blue Drouin indexed by the bride.  They are currently offering the red Drouin set on CD-ROM. 
     Another multi-volume set is Thomas Laforest's Our French-Canadian Ancestors (20+ volumes).  Each volume has about a dozen or so chapters .. each on a different person.  While it is primarily only French-Canadian people, many Acadians also have French-Canadian ancestry and they may be useful for you. 
     There are several other Canadian and French-Canadian works that include information on Acadians (though not directly aimed at Acadians), like Olivier's Your Ancient Canadian Family Ties. Consult the 'Acadians in Canada' on the Book list for these publications.

     There are numerous books put out by individuals on their genealogies.  For the most part, they have used the works above and on the other pages to put their family tree together.  Since so many of these family trees intersect as you go back in time, the chances are that you will find books that also include portions of your own family tree. 

Constructed Genealogies ... on disks and online

     There have been at least 2 CD-ROMs that contain thousands of GEDCOMs (universal format to store a family tree) with Acadian ancestry.  They are In Search of Your Acadian Roots by Yvon Cyr and Acadian-Cajun Family Trees by Progeny Software. 
     Online, there are numerous sites with constructed genealogies.  The two best ones for Acadian research are no longer active online: Acadien Descendants by Joe Hebert and German-Acadian Page by Steve Fleming.  NOTE: I have found archived versions of the sites in the interent archive: Mr. Fleming's page can be found HERE. Joe Hebert's site is HERE (though most of the data was not saved).
      Though it's not specifically about Acadian lines, you may also check Ancestry.com.  There are many GEDCOMs with Acadian ancestry there. Individuals can submit GEDCOMs to them and they can be searched and downloaded for free.  Family Tree Maker does the same thing, but charges you to see the data or to obtain it. 
     This website added a number of genealogies (6 generations worth) for many Acadian progenitors. They can be accessed from the surnames page.

     Please remember the reminder in the 'Acadian Works' section ... many of these genealogies were done by people just like you.  There are many mistakes.  Be sure to verify the data with the source material and to record the source(s) in your notes.

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Copyright © 1997-09 Tim Hebert