The Lives of Acadie

Written by Aaron, staff member, Halifax Central Library

Last March, one of my coworkers published a blog highlighting recent books on Acadian history and culture that are in the Library’s collection (you can see that blog here). In this post, we will shift our focus to books that will help you add a few more branches to your Acadian family tree.

The right tools

Cultural and family histories are always of incredible value, and even more so to the Acadian peoples. Families, friends and neighbours were all separated during the Expulsion, and the need to rediscover and preserve those connections is extremely strong. A lot of genealogical information has since made its way down through the ages via oral traditions and personal research, but also through official documents such as census, and church records. The following books present findings compiled from these types of sources, or through a combination of several.

English Supplement to the Dictionnaire Généalogique Des Familles Acadiennes

The origins of the Dictionnaire fall somewhere in the late 1800s with a young man named Placide Gaudet. He aspired to publish as much of his research on Acadian genealogy as possible, but sadly the bulk of his notes remained unreleased by the time of his death in 1930. Eventually, his work would be picked up by other researchers who would explore other sources, and document their factuality. The latest to take up the task is Stephen A. White, who has further refined, and verified the data. These first two volumes of what is forecasted to be a ten volume series provide a tracing of Acadian family histories dating from 1636-1714 (further volumes will cover from 1715 to 1780). The books are in French, but there is an English supplement available which provides a translation to most of the material, and keys to understanding the rest. Explanatory and biographical notes provided by the author(s) give a little more detail than just a listing of who begat whom. Also included is a very robust bibliography of all the sources compiled in the Dictionnaire’s creation.

Acadian Descendants

Central Library currently holds 12 volumes of Acadian genealogical tracings completed by author Janet B. Jehn. In the first volume’s preface, Jehn explains the motto that came to her during her research: “All Acadians are related." She found while tracing her own family roots that the lines in her ancestry would often lead to many of the same people residing in Acadia around the 1600s. What started out as a personal genealogical project evolved to include information obtained through correspondence with others in the Acadian community. Aside from pure genealogical data, these books also contain copies of original records like maps and handwritten documents. Jehn has also written other books about Acadian history including “Acadian Exiles in the Colonies”.

Finding your Acadian Ancestors

Any proper journey always begins with preparation, and genealogical research is no different. This guide can give you a strong outline of Acadian history as well as maps so that you can better understand the way of life of the early Acadians, and their movements before and after the Expulsion.

These are just a few examples from several contained within Halifax Public Libraries’ collection. They show how the use of historical records as well as cooperative research can help fill in the gaps of your family’s story. If you are looking for more books about the history of the Acadian peoples, please check out a list of recent titles which can be found here on our website.