Paris cemetery records covering the years 1804-1968 are now online! Available records cover 19 of the 20 city cemeteries (there are no online records for Calvaire).
BUT. . .
In order to proceed you must know: (1) the full name of the deceased, (2) the date of death or at least a date range, and (3) the cemetery.
The search process is in two stages: the répertoires annuels d’inhumation (annual burial directories) and the registres journalliers d’inhumation (daily burial registers). If you know the date of death/interment you can skip steps 1-8. Typically interment would be one-three days following death.
If you do NOT have all this information you will need to contact the Central Cemeteries Service at 71 rue des Rondeaux, 50202, Paris and must provide proof of familial connection.
So, how do you access a burial record?
Let’s say you’re looking for the grave location of Henriette Percheron who died sometime between 1812 and 1818 and is buried in Père-Lachaise in eastern Paris.
1. Go to the Paris city archives website for cemetery records: http://archives.paris.fr/r/216/cimetieres/. (figure 1)
2. Scroll down and click on the répertoires annuels d’inhumation (annual burial directories). (figure 2)
3. In the dropdown menu choose the cemetery; in this case Père-Lachaise. (figure 3)
4. Enter the date range: in our example 1812-1818. (figure 4) Click rechercher (search).
5. In the next window you’ll see one or perhaps two groups of images; if your search isn’t successful in the first group go to the second.
6. Select the top group by clicking on the eye. (figure 5)
7. The annual burial directory lists are alphabetical so move from one image to the next until you find the name you’re searching for: in this case Henriette Percheron is on the first page. (figure 6)
8. Make a note of the number on the left-hand column: in this case 1753, since this is “order of interment” in the cemetery. Also make note of the date; in our example Henriette was buried 6 June 1814.
9. Return to the main cemetery screen and scroll down to select registres journalliers d’inhumation (daily burial registers). (figure 7)
10. In the next screen select the cemetery from the dropdown menu (in our example Père-Lachaise). (figure 8)
11. Enter the date de l’inhumation (date of interment) we wrote down from the annual directory; in our example “6/6/1814” (remember to use day-month-year). (figure 9)
12. Click on the eye of the image group in the next screen. (figure 10)
13. Again, we have a group of images to scroll through, arranged chronologically. We can use either the date of death (if known) or the burial order number (1753). In our case we use the order no.
14. After locating the burial register page (figure 11) with Henriette’s entry we are now faced with deciphering the 2 pages of data elements for each listing (figures 12 & 13).
LEFT PAGE: (figure 12) Henriette’s listing at no. 1753.
Column 1: order of interment
Column 2: date of interment (not date of death but typically 1-3 days later)
Column 3: surname; married women are listed as either femme (wife) or veuve (widow)
Column 4: first or given name
Column 5: age; listed in ans (years), or for infants mois (months), semaines (weeks) or jours (days)
Column 6: place of death; usually by arrondissement (old enumeration)
RIGHT PAGE: (figure 13)
Column 7: size of grave space, by meter, and whether permanent or temporary
Column 7a: if grave is permanent
Column 7b: if grave is temporary
Column 8: location in the cemetery, typically in descriptive terms, frequently by present-day division no.
Column 9: observations; typically if the grave was removed elsewhere or transferred out of the cemetery.
So, what did we learn about Henriette Percheron who died between 1814 and 1818?
Her full name was Henriette Victorine Adrienne Percheron, aged 5 years and living in the 1st arrondissement (old enumeration) when she was buried on 6 June 1814.
2. She was buried in temporary grave no. 65 located originally along the 18th line prendre du clos á gauche, prés le tertre donnant sur Mesnil-montant; probably about where D49 is today.
3. However, in the observations column we learn that she was exhumed (exhme.) to grave no 12,189. This means she was possibly removed to somewhere else in the cemetery. And indeed, by tracking down burial order number 12,189 we learn she was removed to D07 where she was buried with her younger brother Adrien Victor Percheron (1815-1821).