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Guide to Réunion Department ancestry, family history, and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and military records.

Réunion Wiki Topics
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Beginning Research
Record Types
Réunion Island, France Background
Local Research Resources

History

Réunion is an island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar and southwest of Mauritius. It became a département d'outre-mer (overseas département) of France on 19 March 1946. When regional councils were created in 1982 in France, including in existing overseas departments it also became an overseas region. The official language is French. In addition, the majority of the region's population speaks Réunion Creole.[1]

Getting Started

Getting Started with Réunion Research

Links to articles on getting started with Réunion research.

Réunion Research Tools

Links to articles and websites that assist in Réunion research.

Ask the
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Réunion Map

Genealogy records are kept on the local level in Réunion.

Re-map.png

Districts

Genealogy records are kept on the local level in Réunion. Réunion is divided into four arrondissements, 49 cantons, and 24 communes.

  • Les Avirons
  • Bras-Panon
  • Cilaos
  • Entre-Deux
  • L'Étang-Salé
  • La Plaine-des-Palmistes
  • Petite-Île
  • La Possession
  • Le Port
  • Saint-André
  • Saint-Benoît
  • Saint-Denis
  • Saint-Joseph
  • Saint-Leu
  • Saint-Louis
  • Sainte-Marie
  • Saint-Paul
  • Saint-Philippe
  • Saint-Pierre
  • Sainte-Suzanne
  • Sainte-Rose
  • Salazie
  • Trois-Bassins
  • Le Tampon

Church Records and Civil Registration (Registres Paroissiaux et Etat Civil) Online

The vast majority of your research will be in church records and civil registration. For more information on these records and how to use them, read France Church Records and France Civil Registration. Additional instructions and practice activities are available:

Fortunately, these records are available online from the archives of each department:
Here is the website for the Overseas National Archives, where you will find these records.

See Using France Online Department Archives for step by step instructions on finding and reading these records. For a demonstration of navigating archives websites, watch the video, Using France Department Archives Online.

Writing for Records

Online records tend to cover only the time before 100 years, due to privacy laws. You can write to civil registration offices and local churches who might honor requests for more recent records of close family members for the purpose of genealogy.

For a civil registration office, address your request to:

Monsieur l'officier de l'état-civil
Mairie de (Town)
(Postal code) (Town)

For a parish church:

Monsieur le Curé
(Church --see The Catholic Directory for church name and address)
(Town) (Postal Code) France

For other addresses and for help writing your request in French, use French Letter Writing Guide.

Learning to Read Enough French to Do Genealogy

It's easier than you think! You do not have to be fluent in French to use these records, as there is only a limited vocabulary used in them. By learning a few key phrases, you will be able to read them adequately. Here are some resources for learning to read French records.

There is a three-lesson course in reading handwriting in old French records:

These lessons focus on reading church record and civil registration records:


Another resource is the French Records Extraction Manual. The full manual or individual lesson chapters are downloadable from this webpage. A number of helpful lessons are available here, but the first five lessons are especially useful.

  • Chapter 1: Old Records
  • Chapter 2: Christening, Marriage, and Other Entries
  • Chapter 3: Marriage
  • Chapter 4: Other Entries
  • Chapter 5: French Handwriting and Spelling

Search Strategy

  • Search for the relative or ancestor you selected. When you find his birth record, search for the births of his brothers and sisters.
  • Next, search for the marriage of his parents. The marriage record will have information that will often help you find the birth records of the parents.
  • You can estimate the ages of the parents and determine a birth year to search for their birth records.
  • Search the death registers for all known family members.
  • Repeat this process for both the father and the mother, starting with their birth records, then their siblings' births, then their parents' marriages, and so on.
  • If earlier generations (parents, grandparents, etc.) do not appear in the records, search neighboring parishes.

FamilySearch Resources

Below are FamilySearch resources that can assist you in researching your family.


References

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Réunion," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Réunion (accessed July 15, 2020).