The RPQA data base, covering the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, contains the personal history of the Quebec ancestors of all French-Canadians.
In 1966, the Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH, Research Programme in Historical Demography) at the Université de Montréal undertook the exhaustive reconstruction of the population of Quebec from the beginnings of French colonization in the seventeenth century. This objective has been realized in the form of a computerized population register (RPQA), composed of biographical files on all Catholic individuals of European ancestry who lived in the St. Lawrence Valley. The file for each individual gives the date and place of birth, marriage(s), and death, as well as family and conjugal ties with other individuals. This basic information is complemented by various socio-demographic characteristics drawn from documents: socio-professional status and occupation, ability to sign his or her name, place of residence, and, for immigrants, place of origin. . By systematic attribution of baptism, marriage, and burial certificates to the respective individuals – a "family reconstitution" made on the basis of names and family ties – people are identified and their biographies established.
Over the years, the RPQA has evolved to become a truly interdisciplinary information system. Created for to provide demographic data, this remarkable tool is now used for a wide variety of research projects involving scholars from many disciplines – history, medicine, linguistics, anthropology, biology, genetics, and genealogy – as can be seen in the more than 200 titles in the PRDH’s bibliography.
The PRDH is now participating in the multi-university project Integrated infrastructure of Quebec historical microdata (1621-1965) (IMPQ) project, a collaboration with the BALSAC project at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi and the Centre interuniversitaires d’études québécoises (Université Laval and Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières), as well as the private genealogical company l’Institut généalogique Drouin to push family reconstitution of the Quebec Catholic population up to 1849, and eventually beyond.