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Source Information

Ancestry.com. Alsace-Lorraine, France Citizenship Declarations (Optants), 1872 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Original data: ARFIDO S.A. Les Optants d'Alsace Lorraine. Série 43. Paris: ARFIDO S.A., 2006. © ARFIDO S.A.

About Alsace-Lorraine, France Citizenship Declarations (Optants), 1872

Historical Background:

Alsace-Lorraine was a territory ceded by France to Germany in the Treaty of Frankfurt (May 10, 1871), as a consequence of the Franco-Prussian War. It included most of the region of Alsace and about a quarter of the region of Lorraine. The territories transferred to Germany were:

Alsace:

  • Bas-Rhin department
  • Haut-Rhin department (minus the city of Belfort and its Territory)

Lorraine:

  • Moselle department
  • 1/3rd of Meurthe department (cities of Château-Salins and Sarrebourg)
  • 2 counties of Vosges (Saales and Schirmeck)

A total of 1,694 villages and cities (communes) were transferred. In 1871, the overall population of Alsace-Lorraine was 1,579,738 inhabitants.

The annexation was not popular among the French population of the region. The Treaty of Frankfurt required them to choose between emigrating to France or remaining in the region and having their nationality legally changed to German. A large number of people born or residing in the region opted for French citizenship rather than German. In 1872, those who elected to retain their French citizenship submitted statements in the town hall and published the fact in the weekly Bulletins des lois de la République française. This bulletin consisted of 395 alphabetical lists. Many of the residents who opted for French citizenship eventually emigrated to France or to other countries, including the United States of America.

About this Data Collection:

This data collection consists of index cards created by ARFIDO, a French genealogical and research association, from the original published lists. This collection contains information on 452,540 individuals - approximately 84% of the total declarations. Each index card contains:

  • Name of the declarant
  • Birth date and place
  • Declaration date
  • Number of the original legal bulletin
  • Name of the spouse (if married)
  • Home address
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