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Alsace is a province which switched back and forth between Germany and France as the result of war. My German speaking Martin ancestors left Alsace around 1850 at which time it was governed by France.

My question is where would I find Alsace records for the 1850 and earlier time period?

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    Welcome to Genealogy.SE, Bob. Although they came a little earlier, my Firestone family emigrated from Alsace. I note from some family correspondence in the late 1800s that they wanted to be known as "Germans" (not French). By chance to you have a town/village name for your Martins?
    – GeneJ
    Oct 25, 2012 at 0:40
  • This blog post on Town History Books and Where to get Them from The In-Depth Genealogist suggests looking for books in both French and German. Try Worldcat.org, which now includes listings from the Family History Library, for holdings. Town history books often listed emigrants by name and age and said when they left and why. There are links to other resources at the bottom of the post.
    – Jan Murphy
    Nov 15, 2014 at 0:33

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You will find a good set of birth, marriage, and death (BMD) records on the Bas-Rhin part of Alsace at the Archives Départementales du Bas-Rhin web site. It contains records from about 1792 to 1902. As you might expect, the language of the records alternates between German and French, depending on who was in charge. In some cases, you might even find French pre-printed forms with German writing on them!

While it is in French, the interface is relatively obvious: you use the alphabet index to find your ancestor's town, and then select which sets of records you want. If you are not sure about the dates, look in the decennial indexes. Once you get to a set of records, browse through the images to find the relevant records.

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You will need to know if France required exit permits at that time. You will also have to estimate when births and marriages took place, then find out who rules at those times. At that time, Germany wasn't a united country, so which kingdom were then in if they were under German rule? Also, check records in the appropriate church (Catholic or Protestant) in the area where they lived. That might actually be your best place to start.

I hired someone to find my German ancestors location; he was able to find a birth certificate, one sister's birth certificate in the same place, and the parents marriage record in under one hour from using films in Salt Lake City. You may want to fined them yourself, but a little professional help could put you in the correct place to start. I am only an educated intermediate researcher; I only know how and where I have found the information I wanted.

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