1. LOCAL SOURCES
Start by searching through the same records that you would consult for any ancestor - documents created where they lived in the United States. If you only suspect that your ancestors were from Saint-Domingue, you may be able to confirm it with these records. If you know they were, but need the name of the town, these may also hold the answer:
Vital statistics (births, marriages deaths from the registrar of vital statistics)
Church records (baptisms, marriages, burials, communion and Easter Duty lists, etc., from church registers)
Civil records (such as those found in courthouses wills, testaments, successions, inventories, donations, property sales and transfers, adoptions, etc.)
Newspapers (in libraries & other collections)
Census lists (available in many libraries, from microfilm rental services, even online)
and any published sources, such as county or family histories. Filby's Passenger and Immigration Lists Index can be very helpful.
If you are unable to find your ancestors in any of the above
sources, the two listed below may help. At some point you will
have to become familiar with basic French terms. The more vocabulary
you acquire and the sooner you develop it, the more information
you will be able to glean from the records.
The next place to search
is the Family History Library Catalog of the Latter Day Saints
("the Mormons", or the LDS). The microfiche catalog
is accessible at LDS Family History Centers all over the world,
and microfilm can be rented from the center in Salt Lake City
for use at any of its satellite centers. Although the LDS databases
can now be searched online, I believe that the most complete listing
of the sources they have available is still on the microfiche,
available at the Centers.
The microfiche entitled "Haiti" (in the Locality section of the microfiche drawer) contains a listing of the French colonial documents of the Saint-Domingue era that were microfilmed at various archives in France. It also lists some miscellaneous post-colonial material that was filmed, and many secondary sources, such as books, maps, guides, etc. The items are listed under Haiti - Subject (such as census, or gazetteers, or history). These listings are followed by a section arranged thus: Haiti, Town - Subject (such as Haiti, Jacmel - Church Records or Haiti, Port-au-Prince - Court Records). The following items, listed by microfilm number should be consulted:
1094159 through 1094166 (listed under Haiti - Church Records - Indexes). These 8 rolls form the core of the collection. They are the most important rolls listed on the Haiti microfiche. They contain the alphabetical indices ("Repertoires") to the sacramental and civil registers of the colony of Saint-Domingue from its earliest days,1666, until 1809. Please note that not all the registers cover this time span. It varies from town to town, and most of the records of the partie du Nord do not start until 1777. The indices for Santo Domingo (Spainsh Saint-Domingue) cover 1801 through 1809. Here is a breakdown showing the parishes that are indexed on each film (those names in parentheses are other names by which it was known). If you do not find the name here, check the list of cantons to find the part and parish name:
|1094159||Acquin, Les Anses, L'Arcahaye, Baynet, Bombarde, Le Borgne, Le Cap-Dame-Marie (Cap-Dalmarie, Dalmarie), Le Cap-Français, Le Cap- Tiburon, Cavaillon, Les Cayes de Jacmel, Les Coteaux, Le Gros-Morne, Le Port-à-Piment|
|1094160||Les Cayes du Fond, St.-Louis-du-Sud (Cayes St. Louis)|
|1094161||La Croix des Bouquets (Cul de Sac), Le Dondon, Le Fond des Nègres|
|1094162||Le Fort Dauphin, Les Gonaïves, Le Grand Goave, Grande-Rivière (Ste. Rose), Jacmel, Jérémie, Jean-Rabel, L'Anse-à-Veau (Nippes, Le Rochelois)|
|1094163||L'Acul (Le Camp de Louise), La Fossette (cimitière du Cap), Le Limbé, Limonade, Limonade Chapelle Ste.-Suzanne, Torbeck, Le Terrier Rouge, Le Trou (La Plaine), Vallière, Les Verrettes, Les Hopitaux (hospitals at Cap-Français, Cayes-St.-Louis, Léogane, Port-au-Prince - soldiers and seamen), Léogane (including L'Ester, Petite Riviere de Léogane, and île Ste. Croix - records from 1666-1724, brought from the island of Ste. Croix during expulsion of French by British), La Marmelade, Le Môle-Saint- Nicolas, Ouanaminthe, Le Morin (St. Louis du Morin or Quartier Morin), Le Petit-Goave (L'Acul-du-Petit-Goave), La Petite-Rivière-de-L'Artibonite.|
|1094164||Le Mirebalais, Le Port-de-Paix (La Tortue; also in 1094166)|
|1094165||Port-au-Prince (Cul de Sac, Trou Bordet)|
|1094166||Le Petit-Trou, Le Petit-St.-Louis (St. Louis du Nord), La Plaine-du-Nord, Plaisance, La Petite- Anse, Le Port-de-Paix (La Tortue), Le Port-Margot, Ste.-Rose de Léogane, Le Port-Salut, Saint-Louis-du-Sud, Saint-Marc, and Santo Domingo (Spanish Saint-Domingue, on the eastern part of the island, present day Dominican Republic, 1801-1809.)|
It is very important to know the name of the town in Saint-Domingue from which your ancestor came. There is NO single, large, all-inclusive index. The registers of each town are indexed separately. Those of the smaller towns are often decennial (names indexed in groups by decade). However, indices for the larger towns will sometimes have 5-year, biennial, or even annual groupings. The indices are arranged in tables, sometimes chronologically, sometimes strictly alphabetical, sometimes by first letter only, and sometimes even by the type of act, and sometimes in a combination of the foregoing.
All indices list a number/letter next to each name, indicating a page or an act, and a letter - B, M, or S - indicating the type of act (baptism, marriage, or burial). This reference should be copied down - it tells you where to locate the original act in the (microfilm of) the registers. It is important to look through the entire index, as omissions or additional entries may be added to the very end. Also, read notes written by indexers or added at a later date by archivists (usually written on the title page at the beginning of the index). They may indicate gaps or other idiosyncrasies of the original registers of which the researcher should be aware.
If you do not know the town from which your ancestor came, you might be able to find him/her by scrolling through all 8 rolls of film. This is a long shot and should be used only as a last resort. In this case, I recommend starting with the Cap-Français and Port-au-Prince indices first.
If you find your ancestors listed in these indices, you will then need to order the film of the actual registers of the town and search for the act(s) referenced in the index.
Note: Roll 1094166 also contains indices for towns in
the eastern part of the island (Santo Domingo), after it was ceded
to the French in 1795. The film numbers for these registers are
listed on the LDS Locality microfiche for the Dominican Republic.
Microfilm numbers 1094123 through 1094125 contain the actual
records for "Spanish Saint-Domingue", the État
Civil. For more detailed information on how to use these microfilms,
see "Where Do I Start" on the Newsletter
0960766 through 0960771 (listed under Haiti - Emigration and Immigration). Réfugiés de Saint-Domingue, actes enregistrés dans les consulats, 1750-1826. Mislabeled as "correspondence between the French consulates and the Council at Haiti regarding emigrants". This material actually includes correspondence between the French Consulates in America and officials in France, but, more important, it also contains statements of record made by the refugees concerning their civil status, business, property, and other matters. These records are full of declarations of loss of property in the colony, statements of business deals that were interrupted by the revolution, as well as registrations of births, marriages, and deaths, both extracts of records from Saint-Domingue registers, as well as those which occurred in the United States. The index, on 0960760 and 0960761, is not all-name (only principals, not withesses, etc.), and is very cumbersome to use. Records of the consulates of Charleston, New York, Norfolk, New Orleans, and Philadelphia are included in this film group.
0960762 through 0960764 (listed under Haiti - Public Records). Correspondance, actes, déclarations, 1804-1814. Contains similar material as listed in number 2. , but pertains to the refugees who fled to Santiago de Cuba and Baracoa in the Spanish colony of Cuba. They are indexed with the above records. These records are also indexed on films 0960760 and 0960761.
1095580 (listed under Haïti, Cap-Haïtien - Notarial
records - Indexes) These are, in fact, indices to notarial records
for towns in ALL THREE parts of the colony. The original acts
indexed in these film are housed at the Archives d'Outre-mer in
Aix-en-Provence, France. I have not yet figured out how they relate
to the 39 rolls of film discussed below. Because of the complex
and peculiar nature of these indices, please read my article from
newsletter, then my translation of Chantal
Cosnay's article from the Bulletin of the Généalogie
et Histoire de la Caraïbe.
39 rolls of film - various numbers. (Listed under Haiti - Notarial Records) Minutes notariales, 1704-1803. These films contain notarial records for 79 of the 401 notaries who practiced in Saint-Domingue (and in Santo Domingo from 1795-1809) during the 18th century. I am not sure if these are the complete Notariat de Saint-Domingue.
Censuses (Recensements). Although there are some early censuses for Saint-Domingue, these are statistical in nature and do not enumerate families by name. However, one film, 1098208 might be of some interest - it contains three different types of censuses, for Cap Français only: a nominal (name) one for 1776; a cadastral (property) census for 1787, listing both owners and residents of the property; and a tax list for 1800. There is also an 1800 census for Les Cayes only.
Indices to Court Records for several towns* in Saint-Domingue were also filmed by the LDS, but the actual documents were not. In order to obtain copies of these documents (from the G2 series in the Archives d'Outre-Mer), you would have to do on-site research or hire a researcher. (*Cap-Français, les Cayes, Fort-Dauphin, Jacmel, Port-au-Prince, and St. Louis du Nord.)
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These reports to the King of France were published one a year, for 6 years, by the Indemnity Committee (la Commission chargée de répartir l'Indemnité) . They detailed the claims paid each year to former Saint-Domingue colonists, listing claimants (and heirs), and the location, acreage, description, and value of the property the claim was based on. Only land, buildings, and other immovable property could be claimed. Those claims that were rejected for lack of proof, or were suspected of being fraudulent are not listed in these reports.
If you think your ancestor owned such property in the colony, consult these published reports. In some cases, these published reports are the only information that exists. Because the original dossiers (in France) were moved around several times before they ended up at the Archives d'Outre-Mer in Aix-en-Provence, many have disappeared, or, if they do still exist, they may not contain the paperwork of the original claim. A separate group of dossiers also exists for the rejected (unpublished) claims. Researchers wanting more information or copies of dossiers will have to hire a researcher in France, as the Archives d'Outre-Mer is not staffed to handle research requests.
Although not widely available in the United States, copies (photographic or microfilm) of the État detaillé... can be found in New Orleans, LA at the University of New Orleans, Louisiana Division (bound hard copy, call number HJ8951.F8A3), and at Tulane University, Howard-Tilton Library (microform). The main branch of the New Orleans Public Library (Louisiana Division) has an incomplete set (4 of the 6 volumes) on microfilm (call number 929.2 F815 LA). Elsewhere, copies can be found in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. (only 4 of the volumes, on microfilm), and at the University of Florida at Gainesville in the Latin American Collection.
§ Did you
know that reparation was paid to former colonists
as early as 1793? Read what Gildas Bernard has written about Indemnity payments to French
citizens. He discusses in great detail sources in various
French departemental and municipal archives, where documentation
(including lists of names) can be found. (This is also 'on-site',
in France, research)
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