We went on a little research junket to Rouen recently, and spent a few days in the Archives Départementales de Seine-Maritime. This is one of the most modern of archives facilities, with nice carpets, beautifully arranged finding aids, banks of shiny new terminals and microfilm readers, and some very jazzy printers. Over the past five years or so, the archives have been running a major programme to scan and index not only the états civils, but census records, photographs, land records, succession registers, and not one image is available in the internet. To view the records, one must visit the archives. So we did, and will do so quite a few times more in the near future.
One of the most important collections here, so far as descendants of emigrants are concerned, is that in sub-series 6P and 7P. From the end of the 1600s, lists were made and kept of the crew and passengers for every boat - whether naval, merchant, fishing or pleasure - that sailed from Le Havre or Rouen. They are arranged chronologically, then by the vessel's name, and all have been microfilmed. Indices have been made that allow for a search by year and destination.
As an example, to search for a person who sailed from Le Havre to New York in 1840, it is not necessary to search through the hundreds of lists for that year. The index of destinations for 1840 showed that only eight ships sailed to New York:
- Trois Frères
That makes the search much easier, though it is still a hard slog with the microfilm reader. The archives are on the river, within easy access of public transportation. Entry and use is free, but one must register first and present a form of photo identification. Photocopies are 30 centimes each. It is required to put all but cameras, papers and pencils in one of the lockers provided. These require a €1 coin, which is refunded. All is new and elegant, making for a very nice working environment, which is, in part, why these archives are very popular and crowded. Go early to get a seat with a terminal.
Les Archives Départementales de Seine-Maritime
Quai Jean Moulin
76101 Rouen Cedex
métro: Joffre Mutualité
tel: 02 35 03 54 95
©2010 Anne Morddel