Seven Things That We Love About French Genealogy
- The fact that so much is, for the moment, free. Just now, nearly all of the Archives Departementales that have websites with digitized images of parish and civil registers charge not a single centime for that superb service. (Taxes in France can reach 60% of one's income, so they really would have a lot of nerve charging, yet that is just what some threaten to do.) This graciousness is under threat and professional genealogists are struggling to have it made law and be protected.
- The fact that the French have always been such maniacs about documenting every aspect of the lives of the people. This goes against our slightly libertarian grain, but overjoys our genealogist's heart. The Pregnancy Declarations, for example, would outrage us were we ever to have had to file one ourselves, but we love that those in the past had to do so. The amount of descriptive, personal and genealogical information in one can be astonishing.
- The fact that the community of French genealogists, both professional and amateur, is a large group of individuals who all (but for one unpleasant person) are extremely friendly, helpful and generous with their time and knowledge.
- The history! We love being able to get inside chateaux and archives buildings and to caress old vellum documents with gorgeous (or sloppy) calligraphy.
- The logic of French thought - which makes cataloguing and retrieval systems such a breeze. In all other aspects, we find a society ruled by logic alone to be cold, cruel and devoid of passion, rather like a Karajan version of Tchaikovsky, (except in traffic jams, when all sense and reason are tossed to the winds) -- but in classifying and organising archives, registers and such, that icy logic is a dream of perfection.
- The helpfulness of the professionals. Most unusual, this, for the archivists and librarians we have encountered have been, each and every one, professional, knowledgeable, and extremely willing to help. When was the last time, on entering a special library, you were greeted by an expert who sat down with you, listened to your requirements, took notes, and put together a search programme for you? That is the norm.
- As in all genealogy - we love the stories of human lives, struggles, dreams, and losses.
©2009 Anne Morddel