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The Jewish Genealogy Association 


By Michel Lange

Translated by David PRESSBURGER-HAUSER & Gaby LAWS

Unlike other departments, the archives of Parisian notaries are held in the National Archives and not in the local Departmental Archives. The periods available for consultation are the same as for civil registers ie 75 years, under the new law. However, the difficulties of implementing the recent ’75 years’ rule are shown by the fact that notaries are only required to deposit their archives after 100 years. Regardless of this, direct descendants may gain access to documents without such restrictions.

According to the dictionary definition, a notary is a public official empowered to witness and certify the authenticity of documents where required or wanted by the parties involved.

The different types of acts:

These can be ‘official’ act such as an ‘act if awareness’ to determine the heirs before organizing the settlement of a deceased’s estate, or ‘private’ acts such as the act of recognition of a family composition by example Joseph & Esther SMALL (see article on the Dalpugets, in GenAmi #48).

Main types of acts encountered:

  • Prenuptial agreements (Marriage Contracts)
  • Acts of awareness
  • Wills: deposits, openings
  • Inventories taken after a death
  • Estate settlements
  • Sale of real estate
  • Loans
  • ...

How do I find these deeds?

Reference to a marriage contract
Reference to a marriage contract

Azevedo-Dalpuget divorce act reconstitution
Azevedo-Dalpuget divorce act Reconstitution
  • On wedding certificates, the marriage contract usually include the name of the notary.

  • After the fire at City Hall in 1871 the civil registry was reconstructed mainly from deeds. Each reconstructed act contains a reference to the deed it was constructed from.

  • The directories of notaries.

  • Directories created by genealogical associations, such as Généabank or CEGF in Paris.

  • Online via the ARNO database at the CARAN website.

  • The deeds themselves contain up to a dozen references.

What I can find in these deeds?

  • Genealogical Data

    • Marriage contracts: contain the names, ages of the bride & groom-to-be, whether the parents are living or deceased, the witnesses present, family members with detailed relationships, friends, from dozens to hundreds of facts
    • Acts of awareness: depending on the situation and reason for the act, they contain the family composition, heirs (children, grandchildren taking the place of deceased parents...).
    • Wills: direct heirs of the deceased.
    • Inventories taken after death: usually start with an act of awareness, which may indicate other family members such as debtors, creditors or business partners, ascendants.

  • Elements of family life: Standard of living, tutoring, divorces, professions...

  • Enclosed papers: Extracts of marriage, certificates, Extracts of death certificates, Excerpts from court cases, Affidavits

Organization of the Central Registry ("Minutier") at CARAN

The CARAN: Centre d’Accueil et de Recherche des Archives Nationales, 11 rue des Quatre-Fils, Paris 3e.

Suggestions for researching documents when the reference or "cote" is not known, In order:

Awareness act of SALOM couple
Awareness act of the SALOM couple
  • The List of notaries in Paris, in alphabetical order, from the 15th century. This list allows you to find the number of the notary’s law-firm ("étude") where the notary of the act worked. That # [number] will be used in the composition of the reference number of the researched acts (microfilm).

  • Directories of the acts of notaries ordered by date which lets you retrieve the date of an act.

  • The directory of file numbers ordered by notary and date.

Example of how the reference numbers work:

RE/CXVII/21 for a directory
ET/CXVII/1201 for an act


RE = directory          ET = Notary's law firm ("étude")
CXVII number of the "étude"
21 = number of the directory spool
1201 = = the number of the cardboard box containing the researched act.

This particular box contains Julius Jacob Salom’s will and the inventory taken after his death, which was found by chance as well as a proxy by Léon and Israël Emmanuel Todros brothers..

Internet Use

On the National Archives website, click on "research tools", to get to:

  The ETANOT database for searching notary law-firms ("etudes").

  The ARNO database that lists for the years 1551, 1651, 1751, 1761 and 1851, all the acts that were passed and gives references for these acts.