We are most grateful and honoured to have received the Ancestor Approved Award from Liz Hall Morgan. Thank you very much, Liz. As a recipient, we are to list the things we have learned about our ancestors that have "surprised, humbled or enlightened" us, and then pass the award along to others who are "doing their ancestors proud".
Were this blog about us, we would have to refuse this graciously offered award. We are too old to be surprised by much in life; we are far too arrogant to be humbled easily, and we have not been enlightened since we left our belovèd California, home of the manufacture, industry and commerce of enlightenment.
Fortunately, this blog is not about us, but about French Genealogy, which surely holds many surprises. It also brings us in constant contact with the French, who do enjoy humbling a person; and, rather than make a comment about the glorious light in the south of the country, we will reflect upon ways to shed light on French genealogical mysteries.
- The Service Historique de la Défense. We never thought to spend so much time there, but the archives are so rich with genealogical information on so many who were a part of the Army or Navy, that it has become almost a second home. The correspondence files hold as much of genealogical value as do the military registers. In so much of our research, this is where brick walls are bull-dozed.
- French bureaucrats are quirkier than their attitude leads one to suspect. Nine times out of ten, they will say "Non" to every request before one has finished asking it, but the tenth time, one can be stunned by sudden and inexplicable acquiescence -- a document copied, say, or permission to see a very fragile register. One never knows, so never give up.
- We were born, reared and educated entirely in California, which means that we learned a great deal about Junipero Serra and nothing of Spain, that we thought World War Two was all about Pearl Harbor and Bing Crosby, and that the Dark Ages in Europe lasted up to the point that Europeans decided to move to America. It is an old saw in Europe that "Americans don't know any history except their own." It certainly was our case, and very, very humbling. To do French genealogy well, start reading history now and do not stop. Ever.
- Many would claim that the age of Enlightenment began and reached its peak in France; the French would argue that it did not occur anywhere else; we would argue that certain aspects of it, particularly reductionism, have become somewhat calcified in the French mind. Apply that last to the French concept of the état civil, one's civil status, and windows of the mind burst open allowing the light to stream in.
For all three:
- We are regularly surprised, humbled and enlightened by the incredibly kind, complimentary and helpful messages about the blog that so many of our readers have sent to us. Thank you all, very, very much.
The second requirement of the award is to pass it on to others who may be deemed to have "made their ancestors proud", and here we must apologise for extending our reach beyond genealogy and beyond France. We personally are the product of no grand folks, but of a railway engineer, a fisherman, about a thousand tenant farmers, and all their silenced women. Our ancestors struggled and scrabbled to wrest food out of stony earth, then emigrated to wrest better earth from somebody else. The nature of their existence meant that they were rough, primitive, selfish, unclean survivors. Some may have been brave; maybe some were dreamers or poets; surely many had inner lives of great richness, but with their outer lives, they have all left us a world sorely battered. We are sure that they would be both heartbroken and ashamed if they could see it today.
The people we think are most doing our ancestors proud are those who are doing most to hand on to our children a world filled with truth, beauty and the good. Thus, we nominate for the Ancestor Approved Award :
- Greg Mortensen, who does not blog but twitters, and who works ceaselessly and heroically for the education rights of girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Without those who fought for the same right among our ancestors, there would be no French Genealogy Blog today.
- By rights, we would also like to nominate someone, anyone, blogging sensibly and constructively about how to cope with the terrible calamity in the Gulf of Mexico, about how to undo the damage and about how to prevent such a thing ever happening again. Unfortunately, there is no one.
As for good blogs on French genealogy , we nominate:
- GenBriand, which is full of in-depth research. In English, Spanish, and French.
- Le Temps Qui Passe, which has some very good advice on dealing with tricky, regional problems in genealogy research. In French
- Le Blog IDF Généalogie - the blog of of the union of six cercles in Ile-de-France, this gives a good picture of what genealogists are doing in France these days. In French
Finally, we have not found a blog on the French use of DNA testing for genealogical purposes that is particularly useful. More, we confess to being utterly befuddled by the finer details of the subject. For the pleasure of the enlightenment of understanding, therefore, we now read Bio Genetics. It is a science blog, written with clarity in beautiful English. Each time we read one of the posts there, we are rewarded with a true AHA! moment that gives us a sense of intellectual empowerment and has us tackling the convoluted writing on the subject.
Thank you again.
©2010 Anne Morddel