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A Brief Synopsis
Ch 1 – Acadian-Cajun Genealogy
This chapter describes Acadian-Cajun genealogy. It gives you some tips on how to determine if your ancestry might be in this area. It also describes the conditions particular to Acadian and Cajun genealogical research. The chapter ends with a table listing Acadian-Cajun surnames and their country/countries of origin.
Ch 2 – Genealogical Research
This chapter describes the basics of genealogy in general. In short, genealogy is based upon names, dates, places, and relationships. The major locations to find information include your family, personal documentation, libraries, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. Genealogical materials and equipment include charts, computers and associated software, microfilm readers/printers, and photocopy machines. The types of information you are looking for include oral testimony, original documentation, books, periodicals, and microfilm.
Ch 3 – Research: 1921 to Today
This can be the easiest or the hardest period. There is not much published material (i.e. church records) to go by in this time period. Hopefully, there should still be someone around who can remember information on people who existed back to 1920. Certain primary records may also be in the family’s possession.
A library isn't much good for the recent past. Your best bet is to consult family members and any research done by relatives. The main sources of information for this period include living relatives, family and personal documents, courthouses, church records, vital records, cemeteries, and newspapers.
Ch 4 – Research: 1810 to 1920
The availability of two types of records characterize this period: U.S. censuses (taken every 10 years) and church records. Now we have good reference materials to consult at the library. Many church records (especially Catholic) have been published. Look for these multi-volume sets:
• Archdiocese of New Orleans Sacramental Records
• Diocese of Baton Rouge Catholic Church Records
• South Louisiana Records (Father Donald Hebert, ed.)
• Southwest Louisiana Records (Father Donald Hebert, ed.).
The SLR and SWLR sets, by Father Donald Hebert, are particularly important to Cajuns since they cover much of Acadiana.
Many of the census records have been put into book form, though you will still probably have to consult microfilm census records. Louisiana censuses from 1810 to 1870 are in book form. Also, many parishes have better, printed versions of their census records. Remember to check out the Soundex microfilm.
Besides the books, genealogical periodicals have tons of information on this period. Check with the Acadian-Cajun Genealogical Periodical Article Index (Tim Hebert, 1990) to see what is available. Other sources for this period include cemeteries (though a lot of headstones are faint or absent), courthouses, and military records.
Ch 5 – Research: 1786 to 1809
It is in this time period that the Acadians finished moving around and settled down. Few Acadians are known to have arrived in Louisiana in this period. The Acadians are starting to mix with the other nationalities and are getting settled in their new home.
Resources for this period include church records, censuses, land records, military records, courthouse/civil records, and genealogical books/periodicals. The mulit-volume church record books mentioned above also include this period. Though not a state, censuses were taken occasionally. A couple of books by Albert Robichaux (Louisiana Census and Militia Lists, 1770-1789; Colonial Settlers Along Bayou Lafourche, 1770-1798) contain a number of censuses in eastern Acadiana. Since this is shortly after the Acadians arrived, before Louisiana was a state, and so long ago, the records for this period are harder to find and are more likely to have been lost, burned, etc.
Ch 6 – Research: 1755 to 1785
This is the period of the great deportation. The deportation started in 1755 and lasted about eight years. Between 1755 and 1785, the Acadians were nomads ... looking for a place to settle. The year 1785 marks the last surge of Acadian immigration, when seven ships delivered over 1500 Acadians to Louisiana.
In this period, Acadians could be found in the American colonies, England, the French colonies, and France. In the American colonies, extant census data can be found in the Reider’s The Acadian Exiles in the American Colonies, 1755-1768. Albert Robichaux compiled a number of church records and lists of Acadians in England and France. These works include: The Acadians in France (3 volumes), The Acadian Exiles in Nantes, The Acadian Exiles in St. Malo, and The Acadian Exiles in Chatellerault.
This period marks the primary set of passenger lists pertinent to the Acadians. The passenger ships of seven ships that brought over 1500 Acadians from France to Louisiana are available in books by three different authors. It is also available online at acadian-cajun.com <http://www.acadian-cajun/7ships.htm>.
For Acadians in the French colonies, the best single source is Father Donald Hebert’s Acadians in Exile. It contains church records, lists, maps, and more. For Acadians in Louisiana at this time, check the same material mentioned in the Ch 5 time period. For Acadians in Canada, you would consult the church records and census data in Quebec, northeastern New Brunswick, and other areas populated by large numbers of Acadians.
Ch 7 – Research: 1636 to 1754
This could be called the true Acadian period. The first permanent settlers began landing in Acadia in the 1630s. These French settlers inhabited the land called Acadia until 1755-1763, at which time the British expelled them. It is very difficult to get further back than these first settlers, though it can be done for a few cases.
Though it was a long time ago, some records have survived. Many others, however, have been lost or destroyed. So a full account cannot be found. The major sources of information are church records and censuses. All of the surviving church records are in print. There are five volumes of Acadian Church Records, and the 1707-1748 Grand Pre records are in the first volume of the Baton Rouge Diocese works. The censuses can be found in print, on microfilm, and on the internet.
Previous genealogists have done a bit of work on this time period, and you can find compiled works that try to assemble many of the Acadian families. The major works to consult are Stephen White’s Dictionnaire (to be published in 1999?), Bona Arsenault’s 6 volume Histoire et Genealogie des Acadiens, Adrien Bergeron’s 8 volume Le grand réarrangement des Acadiens, and Janet Jehn’s Acadian Descendants series. Please remember that all of these compiled works have their share of errors. Mr. White’s long anticipated work should be the most accurate reference once it is produced.
It is also noteworthy to point out that many names in south Louisiana and Canada, considered to be Acadian or Cajun, are actually of other origins. You may find that you have to look into other areas. In Louisiana, for example, you may have to look at the genealogy of the French, French-Canadians, German, Spanish, etc. nationalities for branches of your family tree.
Ch 8 – Putting It All Together
You will always have some ancestors that you can't find information on ... that's the way it is. Records have been lost (or never made), so it is inevitable. But there are answers out there. You might look for someone for years, and all of a sudden come upon what you're looking for in a source you never saw before. It helps if you keep a list of those ancestors that you're stuck on.
When you are ready to put it all together, I'd suggest putting it on computer. Today's computer programs allow you to manipulate the data quite easily. Most programs allow you to print reports, charts, etc., making it easy to share and analyze data … and perhaps even create your own book. Some, such as Family Tree Maker and Family Origins, will create web pages from the data.
Ch 9 – Acadian-Cajun Genealogy Online
If you had to pick a portal to guide you into the online world of Acadian-Cajun Genealogy, you would probably head for Acadian-Cajun Genealogy & History <http://www.acadian-cajun.com>. Some of its major sections are on Acadian history & genealogy, Cajun history & genealogy, a query page, and links to all other important Acadian-Cajun websites.
Besides the acadian-cajun.com website, there are several other major Acadian-Cajun Genealogy sites online. The best of them are as follows:
• Acadian Genweb <http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Acres/2162/>
• L’Acadie au bout des doigts <http://www.rpa.ca/acadie/>
• Il était un fois l’Acadie <http://personal.nbnet.nb.ca/yoyo/index.html>
• Acadien Descendents <http://genweb.net/~hebert/ >
• Acadian Genealogy <http://www.acadian.org/>
• Blupete <http://www.blupete.com/>.
If you need general help with genealogy, the best sites to go to are:
• Cyndi’s List <http://www.CyndisList.com/ >
• Genealogy Toolbox <http://www.genealogytoolbox.com/>
• Genealogy Gateway to the Web <http://www.gengateway.com/genalogy.htm>
• Family Tree Maker <http://www.familytreemaker.com/>
• Ancestry <http://www.ancestry.com/>.
Besides websites, there are other internet tools that can assist you. There are several Acadian-Cajun mailing lists <http://www.acadian-cajun.com/maillist.htm>. There are also mailing lists for many surnames and locations. Mailing lists allow you to send a message/request to hundreds of people at once. Forums are like bulletin boards. People post queries for the world to see and hopefully answer. There is an Acadian-Cajun forum and thousands of forums on surnames (including many Acadian-Cajun names). Links to the surname forums can be found at acadian-cajun.com.
You will need to learn to use search engines to find material online. When looking for a surname, don’t just type in the name. You need to add ‘genealogy’ or perhaps a location to narrow the search. Did you find a page in French and you only speak English? Check out Google ’s translation service <http://www.google.com/language_tools?hl=en>. For direct communication, chat rooms allow you exchange information immediately.
Once you get your material assembled, you may want to put up your own website so that you can share with others. It also may help people find you so that you can find more information.
NOTE: Though Chapter 9 will not be in the printed version of the book until the next printing, it is available in its entirety at the acadian-cajun.com website <http://www.acadian-cajun.com/howto9.htm>.
The appendix contains too much to reproduce in this small handout. A listing of its contents are: Helpful Hints, Genealogy Forms, Maps, Reference Sources, The History of Acadians-Cajuns, Acadian-Cajun Timeline, Canadian & Louisiana Genealogical Societies and Their Periodicals, Libraries with Significant Acadian-Cajun Resources, Genealogical Supply Companies, Louisiana Genealogical Travel Guide, Acadian Genealogical Travel Guide.
Your online source for Acadian and Cajun culture, history, and genealogy.
Copyright © 1997-99 Tim Hebert