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June 2009

Les Optants of Alsace-Lorraine

Alsace-Lorraine

In 1871, the newly formed German Empire, flush from having won the Franco-Prussian War, annexed the French departments of Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin, Moselle, a third of Meurthe, and some of Vosges. The Treaty of Frankfort included a provision for French citizens of the region to retain their nationality and be allowed to move to France, and to retain ownership of the homes they would be leaving.   The German government told its new citizens that they must declare their choice to be either French, by the first of October, 1872, or German, by the same date of 1873. What they did not do was provide clear instructions or a form for doing so.

Confusion resulted for many months, with different newspapers giving different versions of what was to be done. People did not know how children's nationality would be affected, as no provision had been made for them to choose differently from their parents. Many thought that simply by staying, they did not need to make an official declaration and would stay French. The fear and bafflement of the citizens of Alsace-Lorraine was given enormous publicity in France and sympathy for them was high. (At the same time, a public "vow"was also gaining support; it was to build a monument to the dedication to somehow save the annexed region from Protestantism. It took quite a while, but Sacré Coeur was built and stands high on the hill of Montmartre above Paris, looking like a Frenchified Taj Mahal.)

Finally, six months before the deadline to declare French nationality, the German government sent round a notice of clarification. No declaration was necessary if one wanted to become German. If, however, one wanted to remain French, a declaration to that effect was to be made and they had to get out. Children were to have the same nationality as their parents chose. Those from the region who were overseas had to choose by October, 1873. Those who chose became known as the optants, the "choosers".

As is always the sad case with refugees, it was mayhem. Thousands of people overcrowded trains to France. Many hoped to get around the law by leaving and then returning, crowding the trains going back. People were camping in the streets of Nancy. In Marseille, a charity was established to help pay the passage for any optants who wanted to emigrate to Algeria, where the colonial government gave them some of the best land. More than five thousand people took up the offer. In all, the total number of people in the region, in France, and worldwide who chose to remain French came to more than half a million.

Yippee for the genealogist, the  options remain, restated in the Bulletin des Lois for 1872, which can be found in most large French libraries as well as in CARAN (see the post for 10 June, 2009).  Some fifteen thousand pages (with an alphabetic index, thank heavens) give about each optant:

 

 

  • Full names of the optant and family members (children and sometimes grandparents)
  • Date and place of birth 
  • Residence at the time of opting (as this was a worldwide activity, with some families it is possible to discover relatives opting from as far away as South America)
  • Date and location of making the declaration 


Be aware that, if your ancestor still lived in the annexed area after 1873, they did not make a declaration. By staying, they became or remained German. 

If you cannot get to France to research your optant ancestors, you can go to the website www.optants.fr to search their data base of both French AND German optants. This is only optants from Alsace and Moselle. The website is the work of the local genealogical society, CDHF, who have produced a number of booklets giving the optant information. The booklets are arranged by the residence of the optant at the time of choosing. On the website, you can type a name into the search box and get a list of people with that surname and their location. The German names of the villages are also given. If you are certain of the name and village, and you find your ancestor, you can order the relevant booklet for 15€ (At a higher price, they are also available from La Librairie de la Voûte, see the post of the first of May, 2009.) To see the names of those who opted to be German, the website offers a free .pdf download on the publications page. The website also has pictures and some interesting ditties of the region with words and music so you can sing along.

 

N.B.  Again, the picture above is taken from the book by George Wharton Edwards, entitled "Alsace-Lorraine". 

©2009 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


The Peculiarities of Alsace for Genealogists

Picture 6

Researching ancestors from the region of Alsace can be a struggle. It is a region that has been fought over and  tossed back and forth between France and Germany for centuries. As a part of the Holy Roman Empire, it was parceled into small fiefdoms. In the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, it was attached to France. In 1870, it became part of Germany again. After the Second World War, it was once again French. With all of these changes, the people were consequently much more mobile than in other parts of France.  The poor souls were having repeatedly to pack up and leave their homes, choose new nationalities, give up their language, live with persecution. It is not surprising that so many of them gave up and left for the New World.

Documents can be confusing as the official language changed from French to German and back again, plus there are very specific local dialects: a unique for of Yiddish spoken by the Jewish population, a local German dialect and, on the border with Lorraine, their own dialect of French. Until the Revolution, all official documents were bilingual, French and German.

There is a much greater religious diversity than in the rest of the country as well, with well established Catholic, Jewish, Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anabaptist communities. Each religious group had their own cemeteries, many of them well preserved, under the circumstances.

For the researcher, these unique characteristics require a different approach. 

  • A knowledge of German and Latin is necessary, along with that of French.
    •  Both Catholic and Protestant parish registers in Alsace have a great likelihood of being in Latin or the local dialect of German. However, Lutheran preachers were more likely to enter in their registers in French.  This can also be the case in La Moselle.
    • After the French Revolution, the usage of Latin stopped, but the use of German, not French,  replaced it. Gothic writing was used. When French usage was enforced, it was written as it sounded to a German speaker, and in Gothic letters.  
    • There are some dates that can help one prepare linguistically: 
      •  1810-1870 registers are mostly in French 
      • 1871-1918 registers are in German 
      • 1919-1940 in French again 
      • 1940-1945 back to German 
      • 1946- present once more in French 
  • Quite a lot of place name research may be required as villages and towns not only changed names as languages were changed according to occupation, but there were also changes to names in the local dialects and/or Latin.

  

How best to deal with researching your ancestor in Alsace? As always, start with a place, whether of birth, marriage, death or military registration. If you cannot find it in any of your books or websites and really are at wit's end, in your best French, write to the Archives Départementales of Bas-Rhin or Haut-Rhin asking their help (see below for their addresses). . Both are working to digitize their holdings but that will be of no help if you cannot find the town or village name. We have had enormous successes through the help of diligent and kind archivists who have determined with certainty the name of a location. Once you have that, you can start to search the parish registers for your ancestor, with a pile of dictionaries at your side!

Archives Départementales du Bas-Rhin

5, rue Fischart

67000 Strasbourg

e-mail: archives@cg67.fr

.

Archives Départementales du Haut-Rhin

3, rue Fleischhauer

68026 Comlar Cedex

e-mail: archives@cg68.fr

N.B. The picture above is taken from the charmingly polemical book by George Wharton Edwards, entitled "Alsace-Lorraine"

©2009 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


The Cassini Map

Picture 16

If you have found the towns and villages of your ancestors, and if you would like to see a map of them as they were before the Revolution,  we have a website for you. 

César François Cassini, third in a line of four astronomers, was born at the Observatory of Paris in 1714, where his father and grandfather had worked before he succeeded to the job.  In 1744, King Louis XV ordered that a topographical map of all of France be created, showing every city, commune, village and hamlet of the country, and including rivers, lakes and a perfect rendition of the coastline.  The Academy of Sciences, with Cassini at the head of the project, began the enormous task. Nearly fifty years later, Cassini was dead and the country was in chaos, but his son, who had succeeded him at the Observatory, completed the project and the map was published in 1793. It really is a magnificent achievement.

You can see it on the interactive website . It is not entirely easy to use, and on our computer it works better with the browser Firefox than with Safari. It is in French, but not too difficult to figure out. Here, we will walk you through it.

The title page reads: Des villages de Cassini aux communes d'aujourd'hui ("from the villages of Cassini's time to the communes of today"). Firstly, be sure that you have pop-up windows enabled and not blocked.

Across the centre of the page you have:

ACCUEIL - Welcome

GLOSSAIRE - Glossary

AIDE - Help

MISE À JOUR - Updates

PARTENAIRES - Partners

NAVIGATION - Navigation around the maps

INDEX - Index of all location names on the maps

CASSINI - a brief biography of Cassini and history of the maps.

SOURCES - an explanation and description of the 180 sheets that make up the whole map.

 Now, click on NAVIGATION. The map appears at Bourges. Below the map is a row of squares that are tools:

  • L = the legend of the map. Cities are indicated in capital letters and walls, if any, are shown. Burgs or towns, are indicated in bold Roman type; villages are in regular Roman type; hamlets and names of farms are in italics. A little castle is drawn for villages with a chateau.
  • The little red map of France gives a global view of the country. This is a little peculiar looking as the map is so detailed. You can click on this to get a closer view, and it takes a lot of clicks!
  • + = zoom in. You must click on the plus sign and then on the map. 
  • - = zoom out. Again, you must click on the minus sign and then on the map.
  • Hand = dragging 
  • + with a rectangle lets you draw a rectangular area in which you want to zoom in. 
  •  The empty magnifying glass lets you drag and zoom at the same time.
  • The N   gives you the modern name for the village. Click on the N, then on the map. This is a little clumsy, for not all villages have modern names and the map just keeps giving you the previous one. To make the name box go away, click any other of the tools.
  • The image of papers is a link to a wonderful page of information about the village. Click on the papers, then on the map, and a popup window will give information about the village you clicked on: the area of the village, the altitude, the longitude and latitude, the all important INSEE code, its administrative status and place in the administrative structure (which region, department and arrondissement it is in). Most preciously for genealogists, it gives all of the previous names it may have had and old departments and regions it was in. 
  • I = information on the sheet of that section of the map. Click on the i, then on the map, and a popup window tells of the size of the original, its number, the coordinates and scale of that section, the names of the departments it includes, the name of the engineer who did the surveying, and notes in the margins, and a link to see the original n the website of the Bibliothèque National de France, which does not always work.

At the top right is a small diagram of France and the departments, with a red circle that shows where you are generally. Also to the right are boxes to click on to show boundaries, but we find this cluttering. The two other key bits of information on the right are:

RECHERCHER UN LIEU...  which is the search function. Click on the words to get another popup window. If you know the department, select it from the drop down menu. We selected Dordogne. The four circles indicate how to search the name. Chaine exacte is "exact wording"; Commence is "begins with"; Contient is "contains"; Se termine is "ends with"; Avec article is if the name has an article such as Le, La, Les. The easiest is to leave the article box checked and choose contient. In the next box, type in the name of the town or village in which your ancestor lived. We typed Hautefort. Now, click RECHERCHER.

In the box below will appear all towns with that word, in this case, just one, though it could be many. Those in red are still in existence today. Those in green are previous names for existing villages. Those in black are places no longer in existence. Pay attention to the numbers in the parentheses. Those are the INSEE numbers for each location. The first two digits are those of the department. Click on the name you want to see, then click on CARTE to see it on the map or NOTICE COMMUNALE to get the same popup window with all of the information about the town as with N above. Click PLEIN ECRAN for full screen. Depending on how much you zoom, it will look like the map of Hautefort above.

To download, you must register. On the right, click TELECHARGER (which means "download") and a registration screen will come up. There is no charge to register. Just more loss of privacy. Alternatively, click IMPRIMER to print, which does not require registration.

Now, you can have some wonderful illustrative maps for your book on your French ancestors. Have fun.

©2009 Anne Morddel


French Genealogy

Technorati Profile


French Cemeteries

In terms of yielding genealogical information, French cemeteries are a mixed bag. The custom of individual graves with individual markers is not very common in France.  Much more common is the family tomb or mausoleum, giving only the surname(s). Thus, while a stroll through a cemetery in America can yield some very interesting discoveries of relationships or unknown family members, this is unlikely to happen with a stroll through a French cemetery, though there can be some lucky finds. The photos below are characteristic  of a family mausoleum giving nothing more than the surname, one showing three surnames (no individuals are identified inside), and a tomb with the names of individuals. The first two are quite common; the last is rare.

Pity, as it makes walking and transcribing a cemetery dull work, while in America it can be quite a lovely way to spend a day. We tried it once with our daughter in a small cemetery in Dordogne. The tedium of writing famille this and famille that was relieved by a chatty widow in green trousers who followed us around and told us all of the scandals of the dead.

Most cemeteries have a list of all burials, though they are not always complete. The lists are yearly. The older lists will be in the communal archives, in series M or N. Some may be at the Departmental Archives, in series O. They may also be at the Bureau de la Conservation within the cemetery, if there is one. The lists are supposed to have the names of the deceased and the date the body was interred, thus giving more information than a simple family tomb. In Paris, all lists for all Parisian cemeteries have been grouped at Père-Lachaise. It is the right of the public to see these lists on demand. However, do not try it. Usually, no one is there, and if someone is present, you will be sent away anyway. It is recommended to write and ask for the information, giving as much detail as possible as to name, date of death, probable cemetery, etc. The address for queries for any burial in Paris or the old departement of Seine is:

Bureau des Cimetières

16 rue de Répos

75020 Paris

 

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©2009 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Trying Hard Enough


Supercilious satyr face


Inside CARAN, every Wednesday afternoon, it is written that it is possible to visit la Bibliothèque Généalogique et d'Histoire Sociale, "a private centre of documentation and genealogy that contributes to the safeguarding of the national heritage of family history...with a catalogue of 385,000 surname studies, which has been  exhaustively indexed."

We were keen to see this collection and duly presented ourselves on a Wednesday afternoon. After a complete tour round the entire entry hall in search of this vast library, we were baffled to be directed to a small glass cubicle in which two elderly gentlemen were quietly chatting. How foolhardy we were to enter!

"Ah? Yes?" greeted the more elderly of the elderly gentlemen. A thin, curled-over man, he was wearing an immaculate, crisply pressed, dark, three-piece suit and had a full head of flowing, white hair.

"This is the library?" we asked, confused at the nothingness of the space. 

"We are able to request a book to be here for you next Wednesday afternoon," he explained graciously. "What do you seek?"

"Would you by any chance have a directory of eighteenth century equerries, les écuyés?"

"Oh!" he winced and groaned. "You are American? Écuyés were nothing. Nothing!" How pained and irritated he was to be confronted with what he assumed was yet another American hoping to find nobility in her ancestry. We, on our side sighed, for we have met this type of geriatric, snappily dressed fonctionnaire before. Perhaps it would not hurt to digress from genealogy to tell a bit of current French documentation practices, for they cast a light on the thinking that surely inspired past practices. 

Our children were born outside of France to a French father and an American mother. At each birth, their father immediately took their birth certificates to the French embassy, which entered their names in the Livret de Famille (the family book, a required document for all French families) and issued them with French passports. As they grew, they were able to renew their passports without any problems. When we came to live in France, they required national identity cards, cartes d'identités, the main form of identity in the country. We made an appointment at the Mairie, or local Town Hall, and took all of their documents as well as new photos for the cards. We were stunned to be told that none of what we had proved that they were French and so they could not receive identity cards. This is the equivalent of being denied a Social Security number in the United States.

We were sent to a remote office in another Mairie to apply for them to receive Certificats de Nationalité Française, certificates of French nationality. Once they would have those, we could apply for their cartes d'identités.  At the top of the building, in a glass cubicle very like the one at CARAN, was just such an extremely elderly gentleman, with just such an impeccable, three-piece suit, just such an hauteur, and even just as much white hair. 

"How can all of these French documents not be enough to prove our children's French nationality?" we asked. We were exasperated, frazzled, frustrated.

"Ah, you see, they were born on foreign soil of a foreign mother."

"But their father is French. The embassies gave them passports. They are in the Livret de famille."

"Their father could have surrendered his French nationality when he married a foreigner."

"He didn't."

"We do not know that."

"He will sign an oath, before a notary."

"You Americans have a very different system. You believe everyone tells the truth. We French do not. We must have proof."

He asked for more documents, the birth, marriage and death records of the past three generations of the family of  children's father. When these were supplied, he asked for more documents, the school records of their father and the baptism records of his parents and grandparents. Twice a month, for nine months, he asked for ever more documents.  Each visit, with gritted teeth, we sat through his lectures on American legal naiveté. 

We lost all hope and faith, yet continued to find for him the randomly requested documents, gradually coming to realize that the entire process was not about French nationality but catholicité. What my elderly tormentor was trying to determine was if the children's father had come from a Catholic family and if he had renounced the Catholic faith when he married a foreigner, for it is a very rigid and completely unwritten rule -- one that would be as vigourously denied as it is vigourously applied --  that to be French is to be Catholic.

Finally, long after we had developed a somewhat zen approach to the entire effort, our erudite and elegant, old inquisitor looked at our latest stack of documents that he had requested, retracted his talons and said: "I think you have tried hard enough." We held our breath in disbelief and, we admit, indignation, as he signed the papers that approved the nationality of our children.

We had tried hard enough. There is no law or rule book, nor has there ever been, of how hard is hard enough, but every French bureaucrat ensures that every supplicant citizen is made to try hard enough, and non-Catholics can expect to have to try doubly "hard enough".  Bear that in mind when searching French records and, should you happen upon a wonderfully thick file about one of your ancestors, pity the poor soul who was made to provide its contents.

©2009 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

CARAN - Le Centre d'acceuil et de recherche des Archives nationales

CARAN Reading rm

Le Centre d'acceuil et de recherche des Archives nationales - CARAN -  is the seat of the Archives nationales in central Paris. And what luxurious reading rooms! Long, oaken tables with enough space for all of one's papers, laptop, and genealogical paraphernalia, terrific lighting, great air conditioning, intelligent, efficient and helpful staff - it is no wonder that so many people prefer to do research here. It is to the Archives de Paris as the Eurostar's First Class car is to the RER.

Naturally, the Archives nationales holdings have changed dramatically over the years and with the construction of new facilities.  The  CARAN now holds national material relating only to the Ancien régime, or prior to the Revolution, and of local materials, the notarial archives of Paris dating from the fifteenth century.  we will list here only what will be of interest to genealogists: 

  • notarial records since the 15th century 
  • private archives of people of national historical importance 
  • certain military records, including
    • the Order of Saint-Louis 
    • Marshals, Admirals, and Generals of France
    • those in Invalides 
    • Officers 
  • records of the pre-Revolutionary Navy 

Many believe that all military records are held at Vincennes, but from this partial list it is clear that CARAN also holds quite a lot.  

The Archives nationales do NOT have copies of the parish, civil, or provincial notarial records that are held in the departmental or commune archives. Nor do they hold in Paris the Ministry of Defense records or those of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For those descended from French soldiers or sailers who settled in any part of  New France, from Louisiana to Quebec, the military records at CARAN can yield some wonderful information.

How to Use CARAN

As with everything in the French government, there is one way to do things, one way only, and no back talk if you please. Follow the rules, keep your head down and admit you are part of the masses, and it is a beautiful service. Ask for anything extra, outside the rules, try to sound important, and hackles will be raised, staff will suddenly become deaf to your voice alone, requested records will not arrive. Ever. Do, please, play by the rules. 

To even enter the place, let alone use anything there, one must register and pay a fee.  To maximize the time there, it is best to pre-order the materials. So, the first thing to do is to go to the website.  Under the Paris heading, click on the section «préparer votre visite».  We took an hour to read through it all the first time, but it was worth it.   

Firstly, pre-register as a user. If you think you will be going often, spend the euros to get a one-year user's card. You will be taken more seriously at every desk than if you have a free day visitor's pass or a cheap weekly card. Print out your user number. 

Secondly, steel yourself for the tedious and read through the holdings to try to determine which records you want. For example, if you know that your ancestor was an Irishman named MacNamara and an officer in the French Royal Navy in the first half of the 18th century, by reading through the online lists of documents, you will find that he may be listed in Series C - Fonds de la Marine, sub-series C1 - 1705-1789, pages 166-185 - officers' movements. Reserve all that you think  may contain the person you seek. The documents will be held at CARAN for you for 5 days. 

Visiting CARAN

The Archives nationales are located in the Marais, the part of Paris that still looks quite medieval in places. However, the building is grey and modern on the interior, without much light. You will be directed first to the registration desk, to present your pre-registration number, a photo identification, and money, and to receive another plastic user's card. 

 Then, you must put all sacks, handbags, briefcases AND pens, etc. in the free lockers. Only papers, notebooks, pencils, laptops, and digital cameras (no flash) are allowed in the reading rooms. The combination locks cause many users confusion, for there is a hidden button on the side that must be pressed to set the combination. A word to the wise. Take with you only the minimum of papers and books necessary, for on leaving the reading room, every single page of every book, every photocopy, every sheet of paper, even the case and lens of the camera will be checked. This can be very time consuming. 

The naval records we had reserved were on the second floor, where one can view original documents. We presented our reservation ticket and were handed a large box of green archival cardboard, in which was the original ledger. We were also handed a plastic card with a seat number on it. Finding our seat, we sat down and opened the ledger book. After a few moments of enchantment, we were given, in hushed tones, a green velvet, rolled pad to put under the cover and thus prevent strain on the spine of the book. Little archivist helpers constantly swoop silently about the room checking on users, providing such rolls, snatching away pens, etc..  Back to our enchantment, we found our man along with three pages of his career.  

Wanting to research a bit more on him, we found that the next batch of records was on microfilm. The microfilm reading room is on the third floor and is less grand than the second floor's reading room, but quite comfortable. As was the case throughout, the staff were very helpful, explaining how to use the machines, how to order photocopies, etc. When we decided we needed another microfilm roll that we had not pre-ordered, it took only ten minutes to arrive.

 

 

CARAN Microfilm reading room

 

There is also an index to the military records, should you have only a name. In red leather volumes on the second floor, you can look up a name and find a reference to the series containing records on that person. Additionally, there is a small library of Atlases, topographical histories, family and regional histories. While there are lifts/elevators to the floors, this little library is up narrow stairs and not accessible to wheelchair users. Staff will, however, retrieve for you any book you like.

 

CARAN

11, rue des Quatre Fils

75003 Paris

tel: (00 33) 01 40 27 64 19

 

e-mail:  chan.paris@culture.gouv.fr

 

 

Métro: 

Line 1 to the Hôtel de Ville Station

Line 8 to the Filles du Calvaire Station

Line 11 to the Rambuteau Station

 

Bus:

Number 29 to the Quatre-fils stop

 

Harry Potter Post Script

 

Should you have traveled far to visit Paris and do your research and have brought your children along, this post script is for them.  If they have been very good and quiet while you devoted yourself to dead people, you can reward them with a small tour based on the life of the real Nicolas Flamel, the philospher whose stone is so important in the first of the Harry Potter books.

 

Within walking distance of CARAN are three Nicolas Flamel points:

 

  • 1) rue Nicolas Flamel, a tiny street that runs between rue de Rivoli and rue des Lombards, straight from the Tour St. Jacques. Take photos of everyone standing under the street sign. These are rated highly among younger Harry Potter fans.
  • 2) book dinner at the Auberge Nicolas Flamel. This will set you back a pretty sou but presumably the children deserve a treat. The restaurant is in the oldest house standing in Paris, and it truly was the home of Nicolas Flamel.
  • 3) go over the river to the  Musée National du Moyen Age (Cluny), where, on the wall along the stairs you take to the first floor, is the actual tombstone of Nicolas Flamel.

  
©2015 Anne Morddel 
  
French Genealogy 

 


Les Registres Paroissiaux / Parish Registers - Part 1

 

Partial copy of parish register bordered
 
 

 Once you have traced a French ancestor back to the Revolution, to carry on back to further generations, you will need to research in the parish registers. Since 1539, when the law known as the ordonnance de Villers-Cotterêts (the town, by the by, where Alexandre Dumas was born), it was required for curés, (parish priests), to record all baptisms, marriages and burials within their parishes. Before that law, some registrations were made and kept, but they were on loose paper, not in register books. The earliest known parish register is claimed to be that of Roz-Landrieux, in Ile-et-Vilaine, begun in 1451*. The French genealogists say that these registrations were made to "ensure the catholicity" of each citizen.  

Louis XIV then increased the paperwork (happy genealogists!) by requiring that duplicates of all registrations be sent to administrative centres. Thus, the church had one copy and the government another. With the Revolution, the parish registers were abolished. Though the church continued them, and still does so, they now serve only to ensure that catholicity, and are not legal documents. In their place, the government created the état-civil, or civil status, which is documented by actes of birth, marriage and death. All of the parish registers came under government authority and, once the departmental archives were established , were deposited there. Thus within each of the Archives Départementales, in Series E, will be registers going back at least four hundred years. 

In the argot of French genealogists, they are referred to as the BMS (Baptêmes, Mariages, Sépultures, baptisms, marriages, and burials, even though S will often be replaced by E for enterrement, which also means burial). The picture above gives a partial copy of a nice example (originals not being permitted). Often, edges are torn or burned, ink blobs obscure the writing, and the semi-literate curés used inexplicable and indecipherable spelling. 

Some of the departmental archives have their registers online and searchable. None that we have used, however, has an index of all names. Once again, (location, location!)  it is imperative to know the name of the parish and to have an approximate date of the event before the search begins. Unless, that is, you do not mind reading through the wonderful old entries and learning odd personal details. 

In the next post will be examples of entries.

*Many French genealogists and publications will say that the oldest preserved register is that of Givry, dating back to 1334, which it is, but it is not a parish, or ecclesiastical, registration. Pierre Durye, in Genealogy : an Introduction to Continental Concepts, points out that the Givry registration was "no doubt, of private initiative, for the first ecclesiastical rulings prescribing the keeping of these registers are the synodical statutes of Henri le Barbu, bishop of Nantes in 1406, and the most ancient documents reaching us are the baptisms of Roz-Landrieux." (p. 81)

©2009, Anne Morddel

French Genealogy