MC Working with Notarial Records I: Vital Events

Register Now!
Meets Tuesday evenings: 16 January, 20 February, 20 March, 17 April, 15 May.

French-Canadians are fortunate to have some of the most extensive surviving records in the world. The uniform membership in the Catholic church and duplicate records make it easy for us to get the bare bones of our history together. But what about the rest of their lives? What kind of property did they own? Who did they trade with? What were their homes like? Notarial records can answer these, and many more questions.

By the end of the course, students will have the tools necessary to read and interpret a variety of notarial records.

Led by Michael J. Leclerc, CG, students will get practical experience in reading and translating these valuable materials. By the end of the course, students will learn to transcribe, translate, and abstract these records to obtain the gold nuggets of information contained within them.

This course lasts for five months, working with records related to marriage and death. The class gathers once a month for a 2–3 hour online video classroom where students interact with the instructor just like a live class. Everyone can see each other and talk with each other. Each session begins by reviewing the assignment from the previous month, then focuses on new topics.

  • Live video classrooms with student participation
  • Limited class size for maximum interaction
  • Homework assignments
  • Those who complete the entire course, participate in discussions, and complete all assignments will receive a Certificate of Completion.


Course Outline

Month One

  • Welcome
  • Review of Notarial Records
  • The process of transcribing, translating, and abstracting documents.
  • Records Discussion: Testaments
  • Assignment: Transcribe, translate, and abstract testaments.


Month Two

  • Review Testament work
  • Records Discussion: Donations
  • Assignment: Transcribe, translate, and abstract donations.


Month Three

  • Review Donations work.
  • Records Discussion: Inventaires/Partages
  • Assignment: Transcribe, translate, and abstract inventaires and partages.


Month Four

  • Review Inventaires and Partages work.
  • Records Discussion: Contrats de Mariage
  • Assignment: Transcribe, translate, and abstract contrats de mariage.


Month Five

  • Review Contrats de Mariage work.
  • Wrap up and final review of course concepts
  • Next steps


The Live Classrooms for this session will be held on five Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. Eastern time: 16 January, 20 February, 20 March, 17 April, and 15 May. Because of the participatory and interactive nature of this class, those who miss more than one Live Classroom may not be eligible for the Certificate of Completion.

Students should be Intermediate to Advanced researchers. They should already have a basic understanding of what notarial records are and what indexes are available. The primary focus of this course will be on reading and interpreting the records, not what they are and how to find them.