A Parisian Artisan Among Your Ancestors? - Try Eclat de Bois


Cabinet
 

It has been a difficult summer so far. A week of insanely high temperatures has left the garden parched, even after the relief of rain. The garden was then invaded by rats, vile creatures, harbingers of disease, detested. Using no poisons, or traps, ever, we are finding the battle against them a losing one. We have encouraged stone martens and snakes, but if they make a dent at all, it is a small one. How we wish we could encourage the rats to move on to the hedges and woods, but we do not seem to be able to do so and are discouraged.

Our low mood of discouragement was much lifted and transformed by using the wonderful website Eclat de Bois. The magical part of Paris known as the Faubourg Saint Antoine has a rich history as the centre for cabinetry and exquisitely made furniture and furnishings. For any of you with an artisan ancestor in Paris, especially a carpenter, weaver, cabinet-maker, gilder, or expert in any of the other skills needed to beautify a home, he or she may well have lived in the Faubourg Saint Antoine.

Yet, as many of you already know, researching Parisian ancestors was made difficult by the city's resistance to census-taking until the 1930s and the fire that destroyed the parish and civil registrations of the city's people. Researching this particular group has been much improved by the availability of the Fichier Laborde, but that covers mostly just the eighteenth century. Georges Claude Lebrun, the descendant of a cabinet-maker, has created the website, Eclat de Bois, that will help you to take your research to a new level.

This is no simple list of names but a full, and ever growing, biographical dictionary. There are limits:

  • The area covered is the Faubourg Saint Antoine and the eastern part of Paris, where all such workers tended to live
  • The time period covered is up to 1860, the year before which all parish and civil registrations were lost, this is also the year that Paris expanded from twelve to twenty boroughs (arrondissements), redrawing the boundaries of them all. The year 1860 forms a natural delineation between old and new Paris.

The true value of the research presented in the website is the variety of sources that are used and their cross-referencing, in order to give as much information as possible about a person and/or business. The astonishing list of sources includes names from:

  • Revolutionary courts
  • Electoral rolls
  • Escaped prisoner lists
  • Various lists of political prisoners and insurgents
  • The saved or reconstructed parish and civil registrations
  • Lists of victims of coup attempts
  • Lists of anarchists
  • Freemasons directories
  • The catalogue of Parisian bankruptcies
  • Those who exhibited their works at trade fairs
  • Cases taken before the Tribunal de Commerce (Commercial Court)
  • Those sent to penal colonies

In all, the site now has some 242,000 names and continues to grow. The search page is simple; just type in a surname and all those with the name as well as variations of the name are in the results. One is limited to twelve searches if not registered. Since registration is free, why not sign up and use this site to its fullest and thus discover so much more about your artisan ancestor in Paris?

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Summer Reading - La Pitié-Salpêtrière


La Salpetriere

La Pitié and La Salpêtrière, two of the oldest hospitals in France, were combined in the twentieth century to form the "largest hospital complex in the world". In 2012, celebrating four hundred years since the earliest incarnation of the first, this surprisingly academic yet readable, commemorative tome was published. Why would this be of any interest to you, Dear Readers? Because many of you are descended from women sent from La Salpêtrière to Canada and known as "les Filles du roy", to Louisiana, to Saint-Domingue, to Martinique, and to what is now Reunion, and because some of you are descended from the officers, doctors and nurses who worked there. 

Written by Anne-Sophie Pimpaud and Gilles-Antoine Langlois, the book is beautifully produced, on fine paper, with lovely type with photographs and illustrations of a high quality. Most importantly to you, it is completely bi-lingual, with the French text in the left-hand columns and the English text in the right-hand columns. This is a history of two hospitals, their functions, their architectures, their place in the social and medical history of Paris. It is not a genealogy book and will not help you to prove your ancestry but it will give you a wonderful insight into your ancestress's life were she incarcerated in La Salpêtrière.

Langlois gives a few paragraphs to "orphan girls transported to the [North] American colonies", from 1669, on page 51. He differentiates between them and the later prisoners, "debauched women" who, from 1684, were rounded up at night and sent to the newly built prison cells of La Salpêtrière (pp. 52-53). We like the fierce defiance of some of the women in the description of their being arrested and imprisoned without charge, legal representation or trial, merely for being female and outdoor after dark. In prison, their protest took the form of shrieking en masse, long and loud, driving mad their tormentors.

The first part of the section by Pimpaud goes into great detail about the types of girls taken in as orphans and about their daily lives, from what they ate to the skills that they were taught (pp. 149-163); good for all of you writing historical novels based on your research. Through the nineteenth century, the institutions changed in function from hospice, orphanage and prison to medical hospitals, then medical training institutions, then an asylum, maternity hospital and more until they became, together, the huge medical complex that they are today. 

The book ends with eight lovely and clear drawings showing the historical development of the site from 1690 to 2012. The notes are extensive and revelatory as to sources on the subject. Sadly, there is no index. The book is out of print but it may easily be purchased à l'occasion, or second hand, (as we did ours) on the behemoth

Excellent read.

Gilles-Antoine Langlois and Anne-Sophie Pimpaud. La Pitié-Salpêtrière The Pitié-Salpêtrière. Paris : Somogy éditions, 2012.

ISBN: 978-2-7572-0527-3

 

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

 


October Is To Be Huguenot Month in London

Toiles Rideaux

There have been many developments in Huguenot research and studies in London since we last wrote on the subject here. We think that, based on the many requests we have had recently from you, Dear Readers, an update would be timely. This is especially so as many of you have been attempting research in France before you have enough information.

It is NOT recommended that you:

  • Research online genealogy databases for anyone with a similar surname and then try to prove a relationship
  • Come to France to visit all villages where the surname has appeared in documents (though we would never discourage a visit to France)
  • Assume that all Protestants were Huguenots (only that all Huguenots were Protestants)

Generally, we find that many descendants of French immigrants have a family tradition that an ancestor was Huguenot. This claim is often made even when the ancestor was Catholic (Huguenots were, by definition, Protestants) or even when the ancestor was born long after persecution of Huguenots ended and the waves of Huguenot emigration ceased. We reiterate: do all possible research and get all possible documentation of the French ancestor after he or she emigrated, in the country or countries to which he or she immigrated, before attempting research in French archives and records.

That first phase of research includes, if you have reason to believe your ancestor were, indeed, a Protestant who left France before the nineteenth century, checking with existing Huguenot societies to see if your family may not already have been researched. These societies are centres of research excellence that have done an enormous amount of work on many Huguenot families already. The British societies are particularly useful as more than fifty thousand Huguenot refugees went there and many of them passed through London, staying for a few years, before moving on to another place, such as Pennsylvania or South Africa. 

The Huguenot Society of Great Britain and Ireland has a number of interesting events coming up:

  • 15 September 2018 will be Huguenot Day at the French Protestant Hospital in Rochester, which is celebrating its 300th anniversary this year
  • The Huguenot Museum, established in 2014 and now open Wednesday through Saturday, has lovely collections that well illustrate the skills of many Huguenot refugees: weaving, lacemaking, silversmithing.
  • The Lecture Programme, each year, presents four lectures on Huguenot scholarship 

The Huguenots of Spitalfields are planning over thirty events for the month of October: walks, talks, activities, and exhibitions. Read about them all - your ancestor may be among those discussed. 

The lovely city of Norwich in Norfolk will have, on the 9th, 15th and 16th of September a walking tour around central Norwich demonstrating the effect upon the urban landscape of the 'Strangers' - incomers from the Spanish Netherlands and France 1550-1750.

Study these organisations, their resources and their events, Dear Readers, if you think your ancestor may have been a Huguenot. We suspect that you may find them very helpful.

UPDATE: We received this very helpful comment by e-mail:

Congratulations on your latest very pertinent blog on Huguenot Month.

I am a researcher at the Huguenot Museum and have always to mention the do nots you mentioned.

There is one more warning I have to mention to people as well. Your family might be Protestant, they might even be of French origin, but they might also be Norman.

My father's family are of Huguenot descendant in Normandy. 
But my mother's family are of Norman descent in Normandy.

I have also to stress, most appropriately this year, don't ignore the women.

Too often the inquirers insisting their ancestors are Huguenot, concentrate on their male surnames. We have not unusually followed up possible French surnames only to find a Huguenot wife appearing.

 

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy 


Researching Ancestors From Côtes-d'Armor?

CG22

Well, Dear Readers, following on from our last post, Les Bleus, as the French national football team is known, have won the World Cup. The final match was rather thrilling and, as one would expect, the country was delirious. Parades on the Champs Elysées, Legion of Honour medals for the team and, in front of every home, the French flag proudly flying in a fashion that one normally sees only in America. Great fun. We have always appreciated the way that a nation's participation in the World Cup can, if for a few days only, unite a country in a non-combative form of pride and competition. During our childhood in California, we saw how the World Series or the Super Bowl could unite citizens of a town in shared enthusiasm, but the entire nation? For a sport? No, we never saw that.

Pulling a nation together is hard, to be sure. Currently, there is much discussion of an American broadcast personality and his comments on the racial identity of many members of the French team, which brought him a letter from the French ambassador to the United States. We watched the video of him reading it aloud and disputing it and we groaned at the layers of misunderstanding on both sides. To our mind, the misunderstanding hinges on how the two societies think about equality and how they try to ensure it for their citizens. In America, individuals celebrate their racial, ethnic and religious identities above their Americanness. In France, equality is ensured through every citizen's Frenchness. Differences and individuality are celebrated (and the team's racial and religious diversity was much vaunted in the French press, by the way) but one is always French first. Thus, in France, to say, as the personality proposed, that someone could be both "French and African", would be to dilute his or her equality.

Like America, France has a past of glory mixed with shame, including a horrific civil war. The War in the Vendée was fought in 1793 and, as with all civil wars, it was vicious and at times barbaric. Thousands were killed and generations remained bitter. Less known was the Chouannerie, a guerrilla war that lasted from 1792 to 1800, in the west of France. (In both, les bleus referred to the Republican Army and les blancs to the Royalists. Thus, calling the French football team les bleus carries a greater connotation and more historical context than merely the colour of their uniform; they represent the Republic.) The department of the Côtes-d'Armor was in the thick of it and, with defeat, suffered greatly and for long afterward. For those of you with ancestors from Côtes-d'Armor, know that issues of inclusion and euqlity have been thorny subjects for a couple of hundred years or more.

Yet, researching their genealogical lineage is easier, thanks to the excellent website of the Cercle Généalogique des Côtes d'Armor. It has taken the French genealogy associations a while to let go of Minitel and its software, to find new software that would accommodate all of their data, and to create new websites to present it on the Internet. They are achieving their goals and the resulting websites are quite helpful. One of the best, to our mind, is that for the Côtes-d'Armor, particularly as it links to the website of the Departmental Archives and serves as a quick index to images there. It goes well beyond just the search for birth, marriage and death records. It also has:

  • Links to archival lists of notaires, with their locations and dates
  • Links to collaborative indexing pages for the parish and civil registrations
  • Links to an in-progress index of names in wills
  • A list of property place names known as lieu-dits
  • A growing list of property owners, linked to a map
  • Family trees that can be searched for connections to your own line
  • Transcriptions of such hard to find information as marriages in Pondichéry, sailors from a certain town who died at sea, natives of the department who died in a hospice in Nantes
  • Links to a number of pages about military service and World War One
  • A wonderfully searchable extract of the entire 1906 census

 A more generous organisation than many of its kind, this has many pages that may be used by anyone, member or not, while others do require membership. If your answers be there, join, for Heaven's sake!  Plenty to work on, here and, as the next World Cup is not until 2022, plenty of time to research.

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Coupe du Monde Ancestors

Dear Readers, 

Please forgive this repost as we dash to watch the World Cup final, in which France plays Croatia. Allez les bleus!

Football
 

We were never much of a sports fan, though we were loyal to the Giants baseball team, which was most character building. Other than that, we were indifferent. We had barely heard of soccer and thought it was something only Latin Americans played. Then we left the homeland and discovered how very thick were the blinders we had been wearing.

We spent some years in Brazil, the land of "the beautiful game". There, where every bank and shop shuts and the streets are emptied when Brazil's team has a match during the World Cup, it was impossible not to learn about it. We were told that for Brazilians  it is not enough to win; the team must play beautifully and win. Intriguing. So we began to watch World Cup matches on television. Like every American who watches for the first time, we could not believe how hard the players ran and struggled to score just one point. It seemed crazy, like paying hundreds of dollars for a small square of chocolate. What finally captured us were first, the overhead camera shots in which one could see the geometry of a play and second, the fancy-dancy footwork. It is indeed, at times, a beautiful game.

Of course, it is not the perfect game. We do not like football hooligans. We do not like the Saxon squads' penchant to "go for injury" whenever outplayed. Most definitely, we do not like what one journalist referred to as Italy's "dark arts of football". We do like the beauty of the skill and teamwork, and the way the team will play their hearts out for one precious goal. 

We are in another World Cup year, now living in France where, though their team made fools of themselves this year, the nation is passionate about the event. The World Cup is different from anything we ever saw in America. It changes people, brings them together in a temporary camaraderie.  When the cup is won, everyone in the winning country pours into the streets and hugs one another with joy, as if a war had ended. Nationalism can be a dangerous thing, but in the same way that the presidential election allows a controlled revolution every four years in America, so the World Cup allows a controlled resurgence of nationalism. Never, for the Super Bowl or the World Series, is all of America united behind one team, but during the World Cup, entire nations are together in their support of their team, and all of France is for "Les Bleus".

If you think one of your more recent ancestors may have played for Les Bleus in the World Cup, you can check your hunch against the team lists for every World Cup since it began in 1930 on the website of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, FIFA

Select any of the years when the World Cup was held: 

Select
 

When the next screen comes up, click on the word "teams" in the horizontal bar:

Teams
 

then on France:

France 1930
 

 to get the complete list of names and each player's date of birth:

Team names

Enjoy the remaining matches!

©2010 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy 

 

 


Summer Lessons - An Easy Way to Learn French Genealogy Terms

Mon cahier

In France, when families go on holiday during the summer, it is not all abandonment. Children are expected to dedicate an hour or so every day to school work. From June, the supermarkets and bookshops (yes, bookshops still exist in France) are full of different types of workbooks for all levels of study. Workbooks on maths, workbooks on French spelling and grammar, workbooks on history, workbooks on science at levels ranging from the earliest years of schooling to preparation for the baccalaureate. At the beach or in the mountains or in a brasserie, in summertime, one often sees a child studiously working on such a book's lessons, with a parent nearby making certain that attention does not wander.

Increasingly, there are a few on the subject of genealogy. Our example today is "Papi, Mami, raconte-moi tes souvenirs" ("Grandpa, Grandma, tell me your memories") but there are others, all similar. The structure follows the pattern of children's genealogy school assignments, mixed with puzzles and games and spaces for snapshots. We know that all of you, Dear Readers, are diligent students of French and have committed to memory our own French Genealogy Glossary in its entirety. If, however, you are just beginning your French genealogy journey, why not learn about it as the French do?

  • Look for French genealogy words in a word search puzzle
  • Read a timeline of the twentieth century that shows events important to the French
  • Learn interesting facts in the "Le sais-tu?" ("Did you know?") bubbles on each page, such as that, around the year 1000, people did not have surnames or that, until 1840, Jean and Marie were the most common given names.
  • Discover innumerable details of daily life in France

We will be giving a course on French parish and civil registrations with the Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research in October. Why not spend your summer learning a bit of French with such a workbook before you take the course?

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Tahitian Soldiers in World War I

Poilus tahitiens

We do love some of the labours of love on the part of amateur historians and genealogists that achieve a level of true expertise, as with our case in point today. Occasionally, someone writes a comment on a FGB post of such interest and erudition that we ask them to tell us more. A couple of weeks ago, we had such a comment from a gentleman, pointing us to his remarkable work.

Thus, we present the website of Jean-Christophe Shigetomi, dedicated to the Tahitian soldiers of World War I, Les Poilus tahitiens. By 1916, we learned, when the First World War had been going for two years, so many Frenchmen had died that army recruitment extended to the colonies of Tahiti, New Hebrides and New Caledonia. These recruits and others formed the racially segregated Bataillon mixte du Pacifique. While a fair number of websites can be found about the battalion, only that of Monsieur Shigetomi is exclusively about the Tahitians. 

Monsieur Shigetomi retired after a career in civil aviation and has since indulged his passion for the history of Tahitians in the wars of the twentieth century. For the poilus, what he has done is to take the military service records of each man and put their photographs and details on the website. Using the information from the files, he has also written histories of the Tahitian action, primarily the Battle of Vesles-et-Caumont, and individual's activities during the war, giving a very personalized account of events. Much of this is presented on the website and a kindle edition of his entire book may be found here

For genealogical researchers, use the drop-down menu on the site entitled Unités, meaning "units". Under each unit is the category fiches signalétiques, meaning identification cards or data cards, which leads to a list of names. Click on a name to see the man's full name, photograph, details of birth and death, along with notes as to his service. Once you are certain of the spelling of the name, you can find all mentions of the man via the Recherche, or search, option. As Monsieur Shigetomi points out, this website may be the only way that researchers will have access to this data and, especially, to a photograph of the soldier.

This may be an excellent resource for those researching Tahitian ancestry or World War One.

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

 


Researchers of Families From Ardèche Take Note

A for Ardèche

There are so many unsung, rarely noticed and even more rarely praised yet stellar contributors to genealogical research. Sandrine Jumas is one of them. Many have uploaded onto the Internet and indexed extracts of the documents that they have found in their research but few have done so in such a clear fashion as Mme. Jumas has done on her site Relevés Ardéchois

It is small but a treasure and something that one finds increasingly. Some French family historians who have been working for years on their family genealogies then take all of the original documentation that they have found (in this case parish and civil registrations, along with some notarial records) and present that in a way that is helpful to others. We find this to be astonishingly generous and believe that all like Mme. Jumas deserve thanks.

Relevés Ardéchois is strongest on marriage registrations, (which can be sorted by the groom's name or the bride's name or the date) but includes also birth or baptism and death or burial registrations (many of which link directly to the image on the website of the Departmental Archives of Ardèche). The towns concerned are: 

  • Châmes
  • Gras
  • Labastide de Virac
  • Lagorce
  • Salavas
  • St. Maurice d'Ibie
  • Vallon

The families on which she has been working are:

  • Ollier
  • Peschaire
  • Sabatier

She also presents two massive lists of notarial records she has indexed. The first is of marriage contracts and the second of other notarial records. Both give a significant amount of information, allowing a researcher to know exactly which document to request to be copied by the archives.

If you are lucky enough to be researching ancestors from one of the towns listed above, do have a look at this website. If your research takes you elsewhere, look hard for you may find something similar by an equally generous soul who has been working on your area of interest. Look also on the arbres généalogiques on Geneanet.org where, increasingly, volunteers are entering data, taken from parish and civil registrations, for entire towns, showing the family relationships and giving the source documents. 

Add this type of website and "town tree" to your arsenal for research.

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Grand Mémorial - One Site for All of France's World War One Soldiers



WWI men

The Ministry of Culture and the hundreds of dedicated French genealogy enthusiasts here have created something quite remarkable in the Grand Mémorial website. It is the central  research point for the military documentation on all who served France during World War I. It is not yet finished but is very impressive already.

It is a central search facility with links to each department's military recruitment lists for men of an age to have participated. It also links to the recruitment lists from colonies, held on the Archives nationales d'Outre-mer website and to the death registrations made by the army on the Mémoire des Hommes website of the Service Historique de la Défense (SHD). 

The site is in French but the search page has an English version. The results of a search are presented in a list that shows:

  • Surname
  • Forenames
  • Date - of recruitment or of birth, which is the only messy thing on the site
  • Place, showing the department first, then the town
  • The type of document

Click on a name and you are taken directly to the image. The French penchant for statistics is in evidence in the column to the side, which gives a summary of the details concerning the names in your search result. This is handy for genealogical statisticians, we suppose, and is rather cool. It shows how many of the results give the place or the date of recruitment, how many the place or date of birth. We like knowing how many were of a particular profession (four of those named Mordel were farmers, one was a baker, etc.) and how many could read or write or count (we must all say a prayer of thanks for universal education at this point).

 

A map shows which departments are covered and the status of their military recruitment registers being indexed and online.

Map of registres matricules

  • Dark blue indicates that the registers are online, indexed and included on the Grand Mémorial website
  • Orange (pink?) indicates that the registers are online on the website of that Departmental Archives and are indexed but are not included on the Grand Mémorial website
  • Light blue/grey indicates that the registers are online on the website of that Departmental Archives but are not yet indexed or included on the Grand Mémorial website
  • Yellow indicates that the registers have been digitized but are not online or indexed nor are they included on the Grand Mémorial website; they may be viewed only on site at the Departmental Archives

As can be seen, about half of the country's recruitment registers are included on the Grand Mémorial website, which we find to be really quite impressive.

Key Geographical Notes for Researchers of World War I Combatants  

On that same page are some points general to such research that bear repeating:

  • The map does not include anything on people from the departments of Alsace and Lorraine (Haut-Rhin, Bas-Rhin and Moselle) because they were not, at that time, a part of France. More, what the site does not say, is that the people of those departments were, from 1871 to 1918, German citizens. Any men conscripted served in the German Army.  The records concerning those men were held in Berlin and were all destroyed in the bombing of Berlin during World War II. Thus, it is not possible to find a military record for a man from that region during that time. 
  • There will be no military recruitment registers for departments that did not yet exist: Essonne, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-de-Marne and Yvelines.
  • The recruitment registers for the departments that existed then but that do not now exist, Seine and Seine-et-Oise, are to be found in the Departmental Archives of Yvelines.
  • As concerns registers held by the Archives nationales d'Outre-mer, those of Algeria and French Polynesia are almost all online. It is pointed out that thes registers concern only those persons who held French nationality at the time of recruitment. The registers for non-nationals are held at the SHD.
  • For recruitment registers from Morocco, they cover only French nationals born in France or Algeria and living in Morocco when they turned twenty years old;  the registers cover only the years 1913 to 1921. The recruitment registers of Moroccans are also held at the SHD at Pau.

For those researching an ancestor who fought for France in that conflict, this website would most definitely be the place to begin. 

And now, permit us, please, to present a trailer of  "The Burying Party", a film about Wilfred Owen, the British poet who died fighting in France, and in which Sid plays Siegfried Sassoon to perfection.

 

The Burying Party Official Trailer from Sine Wave Media on Vimeo.

 

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Obstructing Access to French Archives - an Old Problem

OFPRA

Oh, Dear Readers, we have been experiencing a series of unsuccessful moments of late. Recently, we were told that our suggestions and aids to you in your French genealogical research are "too professional for the ordinary family genealogist". Dear Readers, we take that as an insult to you and to anyone who is striving to provide the best possible history of his or her family.

We are as aware as anyone of how the initial thrill at the volume and ease of genealogical discoveries on the Internet can make us balk at anything that requires more work, and call it a "brick wall". Yet, if we build our family history on only the easy discoveries, we risk producing something so scant as to be minimalist. We are reminded, by way of comparison, of our hoydenish mother, who studied piano all her life.

She was enamoured of the difficult études and mazurkas of Chopin but was not really willing to do the work to master them. Instead, she used her considerable charm to convince her teacher to rewrite the pieces, leaving out all of the "hard notes". She then blissfully played these denuded ditties, indifferent to the fact that they sounded more like nursery rhymes than Chopin. Surely, Dear Readers, you do not wish your genealogical research to be the minimum, composed only of what was quick and easy to find? Surely, though some of the skills and procedures we explain in this blog are a struggle, some of you have found the results to have been worth it?

At the same time, we do try to help here with clear and concise explanations of how to use various French websites and archives. We make a point of testing every website before we write of it here. It was in an effort to try out a newly announced website that we ran into another unsuccessful moment. 

There have been a number of genealogy bloggers in France who have passed on the publicity concerning new access to government archives concerning refugees and stateless persons, Office français de protection des réfugiés et apatrides (OFPRA). This was and is an important part of the government for it is this office that decides who receives asylum and who is to be granted refugee status. In its early days, it was particularly involved with refugees from the Russian Revolution who found their way to France. 

Their archives are open to the public after a certain waiting period. For files concerning individuals, that wait is fifty years after the date of the last document entered into the file. The recent exciting announcement stated that the files concerning people who had been granted Nansen passports can now be seen online. With a modicum of fanfare, OFPRA's website encourages "Internet users, descendants of refugees, genealogists and historians" to apply to use the site and to participate in indexing the documents.

We applied. Receiving no response, we applied again. A few days later, we received an old-fashioned, possessive archivist's haughty rejection. Our "interest", we read, was inadequate. Our two applications were perceived as a devious effort to get round the barrier, though we had not suspected its existence, but a barrier does indeed exist. We reread the invitation to the public to apply. Can one find a broader term than "Internet user"?

We have the impression that the invitation and publicity were written by someone younger or perhaps by the senior managers of OFPRA and that the archivist, possibly someone much older, did not approve of the move and is doing all that he or she can to obfuscate it. Oh, how many times we have seen this innate desire to thwart! 

We urge any and all of you, Dear Readers, if you have an ancestor who had a Nansen Passport and was in France, not to take the lazy route but to apply to OFPRA for files concerning that ancestor. It clearly will not be easy but do not give up. When you succeed, please do write and tell us about it.

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy