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France Archives Records

Since 1790, France has been divided into administrative divisions called "Départements (in English "Departments"). While the names and  boundaries of these Departments may have changed generally those where the Lacemakers of Calais lived since the 1820s are extant today. Most maintain departmental archives that contain millions of records including vital records of births, deaths and marriages, censuses, maps and military records. Registration of vital records began in 1792 and records of births and deaths of people living in France date from that year. Censuses were taken at irregular intervals from 1799 until 1831 when the usual five-year interval sequence began in both Calais and St Pierre-lès-Calais.


While the Lacemakers of Calais lived in a number of Departments today called Nord (Lille), Aisne (St Quentin) and Calvados (Le Havre), most lived in the Pas-de-Calais Département which in turn was divided into smaller divisions, the smallest of which was the commune. During much of the 1800s, the city we know today as Calais was divided into two Communes being Calais and St Pierre-lès-Calais as is seen in the Commune maps. The archives for both communes are available online.

Access the records

Anyone with internet access can search the digital genealogical records that are available free to researchers on the France department archive websites.

The FamilySearch website also has an easy to follow explanation how to access the France Departments' archive records at

The vital and census records for Calais and St Pierre-lès-Calais plus many more towns and villages in the region are held and conserved by the Pas-de-Calais Département on its Pas-de-Calais Archives website

A manual Searching the French Archives online can be downloaded for a step-by-step process to get you to the record you are searching for or follow the simple steps set out in 'Using the Pas-de-Calais Archives on Line' in Tulle Issue 105 pp7-8.


Similar records for Lille, Douai and other locations in the adjoining Nord Département are also available on its website

Search the websites in English

The website and records are in French but for researchers unable to read French, some browsers such as Google Chrome for example, have a translation function to convert the French text of the website into English. Just paste the applicable website address noted above into your browser with the translation function active.

Lacemakers of Calais Family pages

Names of the lacemakers who travelled to Australia after 1848 can be found in the census lists.

Some of the LOC family pages accessible to financial members of this website, contain extracts of the relevant French vital records including a translation of the particulars.

Reading the records

Translation - Unfortunately the records of much of the 19th century period are hand-written and cannot be translated by the browser translation function. However, you can do your own English translation of the records of a birth and death event for an ancestor who lived in the Pas-de-Calais and Nord regions. You can find examples of a Pas-de-Calais birth and death record with an English translation of that record in the journal Tulle Issue 116 pp31-33 and translate the record yourself.


The wording of the records for the Nord Department are similar to those in the Pas-de-Calais Department.


Calais Censuses

Excerpts of some of the Calais and St Pierre-lès-Calais censuses noting the Lacemakers of Calais names are here.

Having trouble?

If you have any difficulty, please contact us as we are here to help.

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