Traduction par André Thériault, délégué de la Grande branche de Joseph & Gaudélie Thériault de Rivière-du-Loup, Québec

On nous demande souvent des conseils sur la marche à suivre pour effectuer des recherches généalogiques lorsque peu de données sont disponibles et lorsque les informations sur les parents ne sont pas ou peu connues. Nous avons publié ces informations à maintes reprises, afin qu'elles soient disponibles lorsque nécessaire. Veuillez conserver à l'esprit que ce n'est que le début du processus. Comment se mettre au travail lorsque vous n'avez aucune idée de la façon de débuter ou d'entreprendre votre recherche? Au fur et à mesure de vos recherches généalogiques, vous aurez sûrement la curiosité de consulter des sources plus complètes et plus professionnelles.

 Reference List of Acadian Researchers, Genealogists and Historians
Consentino, Lucie LeBlanc "I am available to research family lines for people of Acadian descent and French Canadian descent." In her website, Lucie indicates that she descends from the Acadian LeBlanc family and the French-Canadian Lévesque family. She is a member of the American Canadian Genealogical Society of Manchester, New Hampshire and has published several articles on genealogy and has been interviewed by several radio stations and newspapers.
Coté-Dubé, Linda  "...Theriault, Bouchard, Paradis, Ouellette, Cote, Dube, Plourde, Levasseur, Roy, etc. but I also have an extensive collection from A-Z focusing on the St. John Valley families on both sides of the St. John River into Canada." Linda is fully bilingual and knows some Latin.
Lévesque, Fernand "...le territoire qui m’est le plus familier est celui du Nord-Ouest du Nouveau-Brunswick, soit la région du Madawaska. Les demandes peuvent m’être adressées en anglais ou en français." / "...I am most familiar with the northwest area of New Brunswick which is the Madawaska region. Requests may be in english or in french."
Reader, Karen Theriot Louisiana THERIOTs (my specialty), or any other Cajun Louisiana family before the Civil War. "I do not as yet do French-Canadian genealogy after the diaspora of 1755. I can connect the THERIOTs and most Cajuns to their Acadian roots, however." Karen is fluent in reading French and Spanish and even some Latin.
Thériault, Fidèle  "Cela me fera plaisir de correspondre avec toi concernant l'histoire et la généalogie de la famille Thériault.  Comme je viens de prendre ma retraite, je dispose d'un peu plus de temps pour ces questions-là.  Tu peux mettre mon  nom sur ta liste de collaborateurs ou chercheurs de ton site internet."

Monsieur Thériault is author of the book "Les Familles de Caraquet: DICTIONNAIRE GÉNÉALOGIQUE" and expert researcher on the families of New Brunswick.
Thériault, Serge A. "You can count me among the researchers. Beside the Theriaults, I research my mother's line, the Bordeleaus." The Bordeleaus was the subject of a book that Serge wrote in July 1991 titled: "Notre famille Thériault-Bordeleau. Histoire et généalogie". In addition, Serge just finished a paper on his mother's German line (Schiller) that will be published in January 2003 in Germaniques Ahnengalerie.This is the Journal of the Association des Familles d'Origine Germanique du Québec. You might wish to check the following website where he contributed research on the ancestor:

First Things First. When putting together the genealogy of your family, there is one thought that should receive utmost attention:  unless your information comes from a trusted source, you do not have a genealogy... you have a fairy tale. A family tree is of no value unless it is factual or at least based on authoritative research and opinion. When you receive information from others, do not hesitate to ask them the difficult question: "Where did you get this information?" and "How do you know this is true?"

So now as you undertake this very honorable task of researching your family genealogy, make sure that this important work will continue to be useable by your descendants. Although it will be very interesting to them to know that you were the person who researched this information, unfortunately that will not be enough unless you become a very well-known and very authoritative genealogist in your lifetime. So my message here is, make sure that you identify and document the sources for the data that you record in your genealogy. It is not enough to note that you researched it. It's important that you identify whether your data is based on official certificates, a book, a conversation with one of your favorite aunts, or is your considered opinion or just a guess. And let me add, that sometimes your guess is all you will have and in the absence of any other information, your guess might be important to your descendants.

The range of possible sources of information include the following (from most trusted to least trusted):

  • Primary sources: birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, Social Security documents, other government or church records in hard copy, microfiche or electronic (including Internet website);
  • Secondary sources: published research by known and trusted genealogists, family tree records from family Bibles or other documents in hard copy, microfiche or electronic (including Internet website), newspaper account of birth, wedding or death; first hand accounts taken from personal interviews or personal correspondence regarding the immediate family of the interviewee. For example, person interviewed gives information about his/her parents, siblings or children;
  • Tertiary sources: second hand accounts taken from personal interviews or personal correspondence regarding extended family in hard copy, microfiche or electronic (including Internet website)  (e.g., person interviewed gives information about his/her grandparents, great-grand parents family);
  • Other sources: compilations of assorted genealogical data taken from personal data bases and other unverified sources, website GEDCOM databases with no source reference data.
  • Resources.There are certain resources that you can count on to help recover your family genealogy records:
    • Your own family. If you are fortunate to have aunts, uncles, grandparents, or even great-grandparents, you family is your easiest and possibly, your best source of information. Be careful however upon relying on 'word of mouth' information. Ask your relatives if they have copies of mortuary cards, wedding announcements, birth announcements, etc. It is always better to back up your information with actual records. If you do have relatives within some reasonable distance, contact them and make arrangements to come over for a visit. Make sure they know that you will want to talk about your genealogy so that they can have their information, photos and records prepared.
    • Church or Municipal/State Records. A death, marriage and birth is almost always recorded in the public records of the municipality or parish where the death, marriage or birth occurred. Sometimes, the record of a death or marriage also identifies the mother and father of the individual, and perhaps also, the birthplace and birthdate;
    • Local Newspapers. In many cases (and this is especially true for the last 50-60 years) of a death, an obituary will almost always be published in the local newspaper where the death occurred.
    • US Social Security Administration. Since the 1930's, every working citizen of the United States has been required to apply for and to be issued a Social Security number. The application for that number contains important information about the individual including birth date/place, and the name of his mother and father.
    Also, there are certain resources that are available to help us dig out our roots:
    • the Pastor of a church where an individual was buried, married or was baptized;
    • the Town Clerk of a municipality where an individual died married or was born, or;
    • the local public library will usually have a copy of the past editions of a local newspaper on microfiche to check obituaries and wedding announcements.
    Genealogy Data. What do we mean by genealogy data? We mean at least the names of the parents, and the marriage data but almost as important are the birth and death data. If all you have are the names but none of the marriage, birth or deceased data, then you don't really have anything.

    As shown on the right, a complete set of data for an individual will include the following (click on the form to zoom):

    • NAME:  Name of individual and nicknames, if any, along with names of mother and father
    • BIRTH: Date and place of birth, and optionally, date and place of baptism;
    • MARRIAGE: Date and place of marriage. Name of spouse, and mother and father of spouse. Date and place of birth of spouse;
    • CHILDREN: Name and sex of each child along with birth date and birth place;
    • DEATH: Date and place of death, and optionally, date and place of burial
    • SOURCE INFORMATION. For each of the above five items of data, the source of the data should also be documented.
    Process.The general process for researching family genealogy is like peeling an onion. Start with the generation that you know (and 'can see') to identify the next older generation and continue that process to work towards the remaining older generations... one layer at a time. In other words, if all you have is your father's or your grandfather's data, the birth data should identify his parents and the location where he was born. That gives you the information sufficient to contact the Pastor or Town Clerk of that location and start researching his parents, where they were married, where they were born, other children they might have had and where, etc., and where they were deceased and buried.

    There are two variables which will determine how difficult it will be to research all of the data for one generation: (1) the time period of the generation being researched... it is easier to research a person born in the 1900's than one born in the 1800's, and (2) the extent to which the person and spouse moved around during their lifetime.

    The process for documenting each generation in your genealogy is typically a two-step process (unless you're lucky and you find everyting in the first step. Once you have completed these two steps and are finished with one generation, you start all over again with the next generation. Here are the two steps:

    • STEP 1: Get the Death and Birth Data.  If you know nothing at all about your father's genealogy, begin by focusing on the municipality where he died and was buried. If you know that he was a member of a church, also contact the pastor or minister of that church. At this stage, you have just one question:

    • "My father died in 1969 in your town. (He was a member of your church.) I need a record of his burial or of his death. My father's name was Joseph E. Smith. His wife's name was Mary Brown. If you don't have a record of his burial, would you please recommend me to someone in that town who keeps those records?"
      This step will be complete when you receive a copy of your father's death or burial certificate for your records. Although it's much better to have a copy of the record, sometimes that may not be possible. You may only be able to get the information verbally over a telephone, or written in a letter to you.
    • STEP 2: Fill in the Marriage and Children Data.  If you are lucky, the individual that you are researching may have lived his entire life in that parish or municipality. In this case, his birth record and marriage certificate should also be available from that same Pastor or Town Clerk, along with the children that they had.

    • If the individual did not live his entire life in the same place, then the death certificate should also identify the spouse and perhaps also where the individual was born. By the way, if you find the obituary for the individual in the local newspaper, those will typically also list the children, brothers and sisters and parents.
      If the individual was living after the Social Security Act was passed in the 1930's, then you can submit his name to the Social Security bureau to get a copy of his application for an account which will give his birth date/place, the name of his mother and father, his address, and his employer. Alternatively, there are websites which will provide some of that information as well if you have the Social Security number.
    This new information will allow you to fill in the birth and marriage information for the individual.

    Record-Keeping. The importance of documentation and the organization of that documentation cannot be overstated. It is important that you organize yourself to record all of the data that you uncover as thoroughly as possible. For this you will need some paper forms or computer software that you can use to enter, store and organize this data.

    (I have created a form which is shown in the illustration above, that I think you might find helpful. You are welcome to download the form on your computer. It is a file that was created in the RTF format and will therefore work with MS-WORD and most other word processors.) So, print out several copies of this blank form and keep them handy.

    My recommendation is that you start simply and just let yourself grow as you progress in your avocation to become the family genealogist. It is not absolutely necessary for you to immediately become involved with a computer and genealogy software if you don't want to do that. You can start out simply with paper records and continue with that approach until your records become too cumbersome to manage. Then, you can take the step of investing in a computer and a good software package.

    I would recommend that you use the attached form to begin and see where that leads. Later you will certainly want to progress to invest in a software package, most of which you can purchase for less than $50. In fact, according to Karen Reader, the LDS site ( offers "Personal Ancestral File 5.0" or "PAF" which is a FREE program and is available online. According to Karen, it is... "one of the best--I use it."  Instructions (in english or french) are given for downloading the software at that site.

    Before you start, create a folder for each of your generations and during the progress of your research, file all of your notes in those folders.

    Getting Started. So let's get started. Don't procrastinate because one thing is for sure: the longer you wait, the more difficult it will be for you to conduct your research. If you have members of your family available to you today, they will not always be available. Take advantage of that time now to talk to them about a topic that both of you will enjoy talking about: your parents, your grandparents, your great-grandparents and all of the stories that will come out of that very enjoyable discussion.

    Sit down now and create your first genealogy records for your parents, your siblings and your children. Then call some of your aunts and uncles and start talking now about your parents and grandparents. Where and when they were married, where and when they were born. Did they move around? Did they go to school? If so, where? But get going now, don't procrastinate. Time is not on your side.

    As you start out with your project, let us know how you are doing and especially of lessons you might learn that you think we should note in these 'Do-It-Yourself' instructions. Also, if you have questions or run into problems, let us know as well. If we think we can help you, we will.

    Additional Reading.   If you want more information and more details on researching your family genealogy, I would recommend the following:

    • Look up Tim Hebert's website. His link is listed at the top of my "Most Useful Links on Acadian Genealogy" at  Acadian-Cajun Genealogy and History. Tim has written a little 150-page paper-back titled "ACADIAN-CAJUN GENEALOGY, Step by Step" which is available from for about $10. True to his generosity, Tim also makes the text of the book downloadable from his site. Either way, I recommend it.
    • In addition, consult the websites in our "Most Useful Links on Acadian Genealogy". I review those websites regularly and have found them to be useful to someone interested in researching the genealogy of their family.
    Need Professional Help? There may be times where you will feel as though you have run into an insurmountable obstacle. When that happens, you may wish to consider getting help from a researcher or professional genealogist. To help you if that happens, I am compiling a list of freelance genealogists who are available for a fee to research your genealogy. I would appreciate any feedback on your experience with using a genealogist from our Reference List of Acadian Researchers, Genealogists and Historians at the top of this section.