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Jewish Marriages in France

Marriages in Alsace, 1792-1899
Pierre Hahn

Background
Contents of the Database
Example Illustrations
Original Records
Searching the Database

This database contains information about 22,000 Jewish marriages in Alsace, between 1792 and 1899.

Background

In 1792, the French revolutionary government made civil officers responsible for keeping vital records.  Civil registration was accomplished by requiring the people to report all births, marriages, and deaths to a civil registration office, usually at the town hall [mairie].  There is no regional, departmental or country-wide summary of these registrations.  This location-centric registration makes it difficult to find specific vital records, as not only must one know the names of the persons, but one must also know the specific town where the event occurred.

Many times, finding the source marriage information on a couple who had children, one has to look far and wide among many towns.  This was the impulse which started this data collection.  My French cousin, Jean-Christophe Leveque (was Levy), decided to create such a list (spreadsheet) of marriages in the towns surrounding the ones where his ancestors came from.  This simple step has led to a database of 20,000 Jewish marriages in the region of interest — Alsace — the départements of Bas-Rhin (#67), and Haut-Rhin (#68).

Where and how the collection these data was obtained is relatively simple and efficient.  Each département has an archive for the public which allows examination of these civil records on-site, and with the advent of the internet, on-line.  Each département in France makes its own decision of what will be available on-line.  Fortunately, the two Alsace départements made most of the data available on-line.  That is where the data were extracted and transcribed.  The majority of the data are in French, except for the early time periods and during the annexation of the area by the German, 1872 to 1918, where the records are in German.

The records in this database were selected by Pierre and his team based upon Jewish-sounding names and using their best judgement.  They estimate a 95% accuracy rate, though they are sure there some names that are not Jewish (either because of names like "MEYER", which could be Jewish or non-Jewish, and/or due to intermarriage).  Religion is not mentioned on any French-language record.  However, religion was mentioned in the German-lamguage records between 1872-1918 (when Germany annexed the area).

Contents of the Database

Each entry in this database contains the following information from the vital records:

  • the full names of the bride and groom
  • the town and département number of the marriage.  If you place your mouse over the town name, you will see additional information about the town.  The département number is either "67" for Bas-Rhin, or "68" for Haut-Rhin.
  • the date of marriage (Gregorian, and Republican if applicable. See note below.)
  • the number of the record (if numbered).  If the letter "F" is appended to the number, it means it is in the particular page (in French “feuille”), as it was not numbered.  If the letter "B" or “bis” is appended, it means the number is used twice (usually by error).
  • the page of the on-line record
  • a notes field — may contain: "D" for divorce, "T" for transcription, "TD" for only found in the “tables décennales” or ten year summary tables, or "NR" for found in the index only.

Dates: The date field in the early years was not in the Gregorian Calendar, but in the Republican Calendar or French Revolutionary Calendar, a decimal-based calendar which lasted from about 1793 to 1805.  For more information about the French Republican Caldendar, see the Wikipedia article.

The patronymic name has been normalized for ease of search, e.g.: "LEVY" could actually be "LEVI" or "LEWI", etc., and that means once you locate a probable marriage, one should go to the original record and examine the data therein, which may include the parents’ names, the ages of the bride and groom, the witnesses, any previous marriage or divorce, children born before the marriage, etc.

Illustrations

Example 1: 1799

1799: Marriage of Salomon BERNHEIM de Kembs & Feyle LEVY

There were two copies the each record created at the time — one which stayed in the town of the marriage, and a second copy delivered to the capital of the département.  The record above is of Pierre Hahn's 3rd G-Grand parents.  For this record, the copy from the town is missing the second page, while the one that went to the capital is complete.  Here is transcript of the French from the copy in the town of Kembs (above right), and an English translation.

Aujourd’hui vingtième jour de Thermidor, l’an sept de la République française une et indivisible à dix heures du matin; par devant moi François Brumen agent municipal d’Huningue faisant pour le Président de l’Administration du canton d’Huningue désigné par l’article de la loi du treize fructidor an six bulletin numéro deux cent vingtième pour faire la fonction d’un officier Civil quant à la célébration du mariage des citoyens sont comparus dans la maison commune d’Huningue, chef-lieu du canton pour contracter mariage. D’une part Salomon Bernheim, marchand, âgé de 23 ans, domicilié dans la commune de Kembs, département du Haut-Rhin, fils de Leib Bernheim & de Fromet Ullmann, son épouse, tous deux domiciliés dans la communede Kembs, Canton d’Habsheim, département du Haut-Rhin. D’autre part Feyelé Levy, âgée de seize ans domiciliée dans la commune de Boltzheim département du Haut-Rhin, fille de Hertz Levy & de Rachel Schmuel aujourd’hui domiciliées la commune de Blotzheim; lesquels futurs conjoint étaient... (rest is missing)

Today the twentieth day of Thermidor year seven of the French Republic one and indivisible at ten in the morning; in front of I, François Brumen, municipal employee of Huningue, for the President of the administration of the canton of Huningue, according to the law of thirteeen Fructidor year six bulleting number two hundred and twenty to be able to function as a civil official of a marriage of persons who present themselves in the common house of Huningue, capital of the canton, for a marriage. Firstly Salomon BERNHEIM, merchant, 23 year old, resident of Kembs, department of Haut-Rhin, son of Leib BERNHEIM and Fromet ULMANN, his spouse, both residing in Kembs, Canton of Habsheim, department of Haut-Rhin. Secondly Feyelé LEVY, sixteen year old, residing in Boltzheim, department of Haut-Rhin, daughter of Hertz LEVY and Rachel SCHMUEL presently residing in Blotzheim, ...


Example 2: 1887

1887: Marriage of Jules BERNHEIM & Jeanne Sara MEY
13-Dec-1887 in Strasbourg.  This record is in German.
Source: Strasbourg - Etat civil - Registre de mariages 1887 - 4 E 482/192 - pages 98-99

Original Records

For the Bas-Rhin, go to: http://archives.bas-rhin.fr/registres-paroissiaux-et-documents-d-etat-civil/, then enter the town and select the year with the sliding bar.

For the Haut-Rhin, go to: http://www.archives.haut-rhin.fr.

A few of the large towns, such as Strasbourg, have their own archives, and some of the data were extracted from these on-line archives, mostly in the years after 1902.

In the actual record you should find the correct patronymic name, possibly the names used before 1808, the parents’ name and their status (living, in attendance, date of death), names of witnesses and their relationship, sometimes dates and places of the banns.


Searching the Database

The Jewish Marriages in France database can be searched via the JewishGen France Database.


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Last Update: 24 Mar 2017   WSB
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