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Article Published October 13, 1998



L'institut Drouin/Drouin Institute Assets Move South
By: Xenia Stanford Biography & Archived Articles


On July 31, 1998 the American French Genealogical Society located in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, USA purchased some of the archives as well as the current assets of the former L'Institut Drouin of Montreal. The AFGS now owns the copyright to the so-called Red and Blue Drouin (indexed by groom), and the femme microfiche (indexed by bride) compiled by the Institute. Thus currently AFGS has sole rights to the sales or reproduction of these products. AFGS and J.P. Pepin each purchased a copy of the 2300 rolls of microfilm of the "acts" of the churches in Quebec. Mr. Pepin is the sole owner of the "hard to find marriages" which he plans to publish.

What does this mean to Canadians besides changing the purchase price into U.S. dollars? Although I am disappointed to see such a Canadian institution of long standing disappear, both Canadians and Americans are researching the same families. Once it ( USA & Canada) was one county with New France extending as far south as Florida. All French Canadian researchers are kin regardless of which side of current borders they call home.

This, however, does not answer the question "why was there no public notice that these assets and rights were for sale?" so that an offer from a Canadian organization could have been made, especially with the concern over our dollar's decreasing value. Apparently the collection was offered to the Quebec government more than a decade ago. However, in spite of (then Premier) Levesque's reluctance to spend the money for the support of our heritage, there may have been other Canadian institutions willing make the purchase. Let's hope, with the support of the AFGS, the work done by the Drouin Institute will continue to be an accessible valuable tool for those with French Canadian roots no matter where they may live.

THE FIRST CD-ROM

The most significant and positive change by the AFGS so far is the offer of a 3 volume "Red Drouin" on CD-ROM. GlobalGenealogy.com has the CDs available at http://globalgenealogy.com/445072.htm. The last 115 hardcopy sets were sold out at a price of $350 U.S. so the CD seems to be a reasonable offer even at the current exchange rate.

The CD is both IBM and MAC compatible readable by Adobe Acrobat which can be installed from the CD or downloaded from the Adobe website free of charge.(See http://www.adobe.com). One problem is that the CD is searchable only by the surname on the top of each page of the print equivalent. Once the indexed name is found, you must page down to see the remaining information. This means the surname you are searching may not be found quickly. However, besides the price difference from the out-of-print hardcopy, the CD takes up less shelf-space and information may be more easily cut and pasted.

HISTORY OF THE DROUIN COLLECTION

The Drouin is a set of "dictionaries" covering marriages in early Canada from 1608 to about 1940 in Quebec. This collection was started in the mid 1940s, when Gabriel Drouin and his company, L'Institut Drouin, went on-site with five specially equipped vans to microfilm the registers of 1700 Quebec parishes and later to compile alphabetical card indexes, fiche and hardbound sets.

The collection is comprised of the following parts:
    Microfilm
    This covers birth, marriage and death records from the parish registers of Quebec and parts of Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia which were predominately French Canadian settlements; notarial acts, such as marriage contracts and other legal documents, from Quebec; and some vital statistics and census records for states such as Louisiana and Rhode Island. Some non-Catholic and Indian Mission records are included. This microfilm is a primary source since it is filmed from the original. (The AFGS had already purchased the microfilm from Claude Drouin, Gabriel's nephew and heir, in May 1997.)
    L'Institut created this microfilm to complete genealogies for clients. To make tracing ancestors easier, they extracted the marriages and created handwritten index cards which they could file alphabetically.

    Microfiche
    Later these cards were filmed to create a set of "homme" or "male fiche" which were arranged alphabetically by the grooms' surnames and then the "femme" or "female fiche" sorted by brides' maiden names.

    Blue or big (bleu or gros) Drouin
    From the fiche two sets of hardbound legal sized blue covered books were created. The first was the male "blue" or "gros" (big) Drouin in 49 volumes. A darker blue hardbound 64 volume set was produced from the "female fiche". The Blue Drouins cover the period from about 1760 to 1935 with some marriages up to 1940. This set when sold by the Drouin Institute in Montreal apparently cost $25,000 Cdn. The AFGS purchased the "femme fiche" but do not have a hardbound set. At this time there is no word regarding the cost or availability of reproductions of the Blue Drouins from AFGS.

    Red or little (rouge or petit) Drouin
    The early marriages were published in three volumes nicknamed the "Red Drouin" from the colour of its cover or "petit Drouin" from the number of volumes. The correct title is "Dictionnaire National des Canadiens Francais (1608-1760)". It was first produced in 1958 and then republished in 1965. In following years (1978, 1979 and 1985) appendices with corrections were added. The hardcover Red Drouin is currently out-of-print but has been scanned to produce the CD-ROM.

    Two volumes of this set contain the index to marriages for the period indicated in the title. Territory covered, besides modern day Quebec, includes Acadia and some of the upper northeast U.S. states where the French settled. It is a reliable secondary source for the areas covered by the microfilm of original records but less so for Acadia where Drouin relied on the work of others or made a separate entry for parents of parties in the registers where the marriage of the parents themselves are not found. In these cases, the dates of the parents' marriage is left blank or approximated and the location is the parish of residence given on the marriage record of the child from one of the microfilmed registers.

    Indexed alphabetically by grooms, each entry will also state the name of the bride, the parents of both parties, the marriage location and date, if known. Sometimes if the marriage record was not found but the details of the marriage contract was known, Drouin gave the date of the contract and the name of the notary in whose records the full text can be found. For the first progenitor of the name to arrive in Canada, it lists the town of origin in France or other European country (e.g. England or Belgium) as well as occupation of the bridegroom. It will also tell you if the new immigrant was a soldier in the Carignan-Salieres Regiment with the name of his company commander.

    The third volume of this set discusses the history of some of the significant ancient French founders of our country, such as Louis Hebert, Guillaume Couillard and the forefather of Wilfrid Laurier. These "petite histoires" often include pictures of family crests and monuments.



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