A unique collection, at the heart of which is the history of France.
Tools and sources for genealogy and local history
BnF holds materials which are a rich source of information on French family history and local history: genealogical studies, local press, armorials, nobiliaries, handwritten proofs of nobility, etc.
Equestrian armorial of the Golden Fleece, 1433-1435
As well as traditional genealogical research, readers can use the collections to find records of ancestors’ activities
(composers, photographers, actors, etc.), trace changes within a region
, or obtain additional information about a municipality.
The reference room at the Richelieu Library (Site Richelieu) and room J at the François Mitterrand Library (Site François-Mitterrand) provide tools (genealogical guides, dictionaries of nobility, armorials, and local history reference works). Staff are available to help readers know where to start and provide guidance on research.
More specifically, for research into the French nobility, the Manuscripts Department holds the Cabinet des titres and the Armorial général, while the Arsenal Library (Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal) holds manuscripts and old books such as armorials, nobiliaries, genealogical treatises, etc.
The François Mitterrand Library’s collections bring together in a single location many publications by local, administrative, and religious authorities, such as publications by learned societies (e.g. La Revue du Nord and La Revue du midi), the Semaines religieuses, etc.
The Audiovisual Department’s collection of genealogical CD-ROMs consists of several hundred titles
collected under the legal deposit scheme since 1994. They also include unpublished, rare, and out-of-print titles, all of which help make this a unique collection.
Produced by institutions, specialist and leisure publishers, and associations and enthusiasts, these CD-ROMs provide a large number of variations on and enhancements to printed and online publications. For all its diversity, the collection’s content is not exhaustive; published CD-ROMs do not cover the full spectrum of written collections. For example, some regions have more than one CD-ROM covering their nobility, while other regions have none. This reservation also applies to the small number of registers of births, deaths, and marriages.
CD-ROMs include themed or geographical selections, compilations sometimes consisting of tens of volumes (e.g. the 45 volumes of L.-G. Michaud’s Biographie universelle ancienne et moderne), indexes (e.g. the (Index des index bretons), and directories or complete copies of originals (e.g. the six volumes of the Armorial et nobiliaire de l'ancien duché de Savoie by A. de Foras), often reinput in text format and enhanced (e.g. the Armorial de Normandie). They even include unpublished content from private sources (e.g. the latest enhanced version of the Dictionnaire de la noblesse française). Also available are educational and creative software applications (e.g. Arnaud d’Abzac’s Art du blason series).