French Genealogy

As winter is now approaching and I need some entertainment, I was thinking of researching the French half of my family. The French side are from Alsace - Sarre-Union, Schiltigheim and Mulhouse. I have quite a few papers from both the maternal and paternal families, from the 19th century - difficult to read as they are in very curly script - but they seem to allude to military matters, politics and business. Plus the livret de famille of my grandmother. My French grandparents moved to London in 1920 - my mother was born there in 1923.

Can anyone recommend any useful websites, or have any other brilliant ideas? I would really like to have a go at this, and it has to beat facebook and fora (not this one of course) as an intellectual exercise!

By the way, it isn't the Selous bit of my name - that is entirely from Bloke - the French lot were Nippert and Rodoulphi .......

Many thanks.

And another link for you to try -

and although a UK site I do know people who have found it helped trace French and German ancestry

But if they are Swiss, as in Sue's case, don't bother. The bureaucracy and records are brilliant BUT you pay through the nose for everything. I think it is Chf12 for each stage of a search :-(

You can get quite a lot of information on birth certificates (Fr people born abroad are registered in Nantes, so you ask there) get them to send a certificate because it will have parents' names & place of birth - then you contact the mairie of their birth & do it all over again. My mother & both her parents & even her grandparents were all born outside France (Indochina, China & Africa) so Nantes is v useful. Alsace might be a cas particulier but I bet they have records.

Ha ha Brian I found the same one on google & another who is an inventor...

Sue, you could try writing to or ringing her last known address in case the parents still live there? Mind you you've probably done that...


Thanks for your suggestions. I am in Dubai at the moment so will try when I get back home.

I originally tried facebook and google but got nowhere.

You may try these sites: for mulhouse sarre-union, schiltigheim

Fiona..It just so happens that I can do a look up for you since I still have a few documents that could help you on your way.

A lot of Swiss women keep their own names, so perhaps you can just try Facebook, Google and so on. Jean might be easiest by searching for a doctor, yellow pages even although you might need to try several different area ones. I just tried and this might be the right one for him:

Monney, Jean-Marie
Dermatology and venereology
Grand-Rue 40
1820 Montreux

021 963 77 63

If he is the right one, and he was the only one that came up on a simple search, then you can ask him.

It helps having a Swiss wife sometimes since I know that this is usually the simplest and fastest way to find people there.

I have family from Belgium and France - they wont tell you anything less than 100 years ago.

Does anyone know how I can trace a Swiss friend with whom I went to school in France? Last heard of in the 70s in Switzerland and she wasn't married at that point. Her surname was Monney and she was a twin with Claude who I think was a geologist. She had an older brother called Jean who became a doctor and a younger sister called Antoinette. Her father was in the diplomatic corps.

That would be splendid - I live in the Vosges not very far from Alsace (we couldn't afford to buy what we wanted in Alsace which was our original plan, hence the little hop over the 'border'!)

My late Uncle did some research and found a lot of Nipperts in St Louis, but I don't think he found any family connections - I must get all the papers in some kind of order so I can make a proper start!

Thanks again.

Fiona Hello!

It just happens that my specialty for about ten years was Alsace and Swiss immigration and emigration. I could put you in touch with a bunch of Alsatian genealogical friends who live throughout the World including the US, Canada and I believe the UK.

Let me know whether this could be of interest to you.


Haven't found that one yet - thanks!

Ah hah, hence your expertise! Still should do something to wake up my little grey cells before old age gets me! may prove a useful site.

I have been bilingual English and German all of my life. It helped a 'tiny little' bit ;-)

Saxony is a long way from Alsace!

This is fascinating Brian - I did German A level in the dim and distant past, haven't had much call for it, apart from helping the brats with their German homework. You're making me think I should liven it up again!

Yes, with you. I saw that there are around 20 variants of the name, six of them have i endings. That is not uncommon in German, in the north they put 'chen' on the end of words, the closer to the south it is an 'i'. It is more or used as a familiar form - Liebchen in the north is darling, whereas in the the south it is like to be 'Liebli'. As for variants, well like the four signatures of Shakespeare who always had the same handwriting but spelled it differently. Names often varied because of local dialects, clergy not knowing how to spell for their baptismal and marriage registers so writing them as X, officials and people who could write being inconsistent themselves. Modern German does not allow that any longer but just two hundred years ago there were debates over just how place names were spelled. Berlin or Baerlin for example. Anyway, the i ending Rudolfs are mainly in Saxony where it is the last place I would have expected it.

Interesting ..... there is a myth that they were Rudolf in the dim and distant past, but thought it sounded too germanic, so changed it to Rodoulphi to frenchify themselves. If this is true, why go for something which sounds Italian-ish - hmmmm.

Rodoulphi is one of many variations of the name with origins in Saxony but common throughout Thuringia and Alsaß meaning of the family of Rudolf.

Nippert is from a Germanic personal name composed of the elements nit ‘hatred’ or ‘hostility’ with berht ‘bright’ or‘illustrious’, or a habitational name derived from Nippern in Silesia.

I looked at a site you cannot get on because it is part of a university collection but as for the more 'modern' stuff I have no idea where to start.