Tanguay’s Genealogical Dictionary of Canadian Families

One of the sources widely used by English speaking descendants of French-Canadians is Tanguay’s Dictionnaire généalogique des familles canadiennes or Genealogical Dictionary of Canadian Families. It’s a relatively simple research tool that can be used to identify the kinship between different French-Canadians prior to 1763. It is comprised of 7 volumes. Volume 1 contains people who were married between 1607-1700. Volumes 2-7 contain people married after 1700, each volume specific to a portion of the alphabet for the surname. The 7-set volume is included in an Ancestry subscription as collection 2177 and typically is identified as a hint when you include families found within the books. This is problematic, because Tanguay’s work, while a great reference tool, is known to be full of errors. Any work of its size is likely prone to kinship mistakes, but Tanguay is notorious for having made a sizeable number of errors, and Ancestry, by enabling the quick and simple addition of these families, encourages error prone research.

Both of the works below are in French but are relatively easy to figure out. If you run into a word you cannot translate, see this list of key words for translation from French to English in the early records. Most dates have a letter in front of them. The letter “b” means a baptism date (baptême), “m” means a marriage date (mariage), and “s” means a burial date (sépulture).

Dictionnaire généalogique des familles canadiennes

I’ve linked to the 7 volume set at Archive.org enabling you to view or download each volume. These are the clearest copies of this work that I can find online and these are the versions I use. While the volumes reflect “individuals married” the information is actually for the entire family as known to Tanguay.

A lesser known additional source are J.-Arthur Lebouf’s Complément au dictionnaire généalogique Tanguay or Supplement to Tanguay’s Genealogical Dictionary. This series of manuscripts seeks to correct and add to Tanguay’s original 7 volume work. Most notably it includes some families from Montreal which are traced to the late 1800s. Three of the four volume work is available online using the following links.

Complément au dictionnaire généalogique Tanguay

These can only be found online at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) Numérique. This is one of my favorite websites for free early Quebec resources! You can read the manuscript there, or download a PDF copy.


The Dictionnaire généalogique des familles canadiennes or Genealogical Dictionary of Canadian Families by Cyprien Tanguay is a colossal monument erected in memory of the founders and ancestors of French Canadians. It is however, not bullet proof, and anyone using it should only reference it as a guide for further research on your ancestors.

3 thoughts on “Tanguay’s Genealogical Dictionary of Canadian Families”

  1. @Rachel Serpas:

    The two works were published as a single 7-volume set over 1881-1890; they were reprinted at least once. Since going out of copyright there have been occasional printings. First editions and later editions are available, and can be sought via antique booksellers as well as specialty and online sources (try abebooks.com). Complete first editions are ~US$1000 in fine condition; recent reprints (Wentworth Press, Forgotten Books, S N Books World) run US$20-25 per volume.

    The complete set are available as pdf files at no cost at Dennis’s links, above, and on Archive.org.

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