Our next honoree was inducted posthumously.
Joseph Drouin started the family genealogy enterprise. He was a distinguished lawyer who around 1913 began a hobby of making family trees for friends. Within 20 years Joseph created approximately 12- hundred genealogies and accumulated a wealth of documentation.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Gabriel Drouin left his law studies to devote himself to the genealogy business. After his father’s death in 1937, Gabriel founded the Institut Généalogique Drouin.
Gabriel saw the difficulties and obstacles that his father had in gathering genealogical information and how long it took to build a family tree in those early days. There was a lot of travelling involved and long-distance communication problems.
In 1939, at the beginning of World War II, Nazi submarines were in the St. Lawrence river and were sinking Canadian ships. Gabriel feared that if the war came to Canada parish records dating back to the beginning of Quebec might be lost.
He came up with a brilliant idea with the objectives of saving the vital records and archives from possible destruction and creating a central database for genealogical research for his institute.
He learned that the Kodak Corporation had invented microfilm. Gabriel made a deal with Kodak management to build a mobile recording studio in a van that included a unit for microfilming. He convinced the clergy and the Canadian government to grant his company permission to undertake this massive project.
Between 1939 and 1943, the institute microfilmed most of the parish and civil registries of the villages and towns not only in the province of Quebec…but also some in Ontario, New Brunswick and in the New England area.
With all this unique raw data, Gabriel and his team went on to extract most of the marriages from those records to create the now famous marriage collections sorted by men and women. These were used exclusively by the institute researchers to build family trees.
In 1957, Gabriel published the Drouin dictionaries covering the years 1608 to 1760. The institute sold more than 30- thousand genealogies.
During his lifetime, Gabriel compiled and created what is known as the Drouin Collection. It is considered by the genealogical community to be the most complete and best resource for French Canadian family history records.
The entire Drouin collection is available for use in the AFGS library.
Gabriel Drouin’s son Mark accepted the award on behalf of the Drouin family.