There has been much touting over the past few weeks of this weekend's event at the national archives, le forum national de généalogie or Géné@2010, as the organiser, the Fédération Française de Généalogie (FFG) named it. Ads were on the back of every genealogy magazine for the past two months, French bloggers on genealogy all have given it a mention. We dared not miss it and so, on a prematurely chilly Saturday morning, we rode three different métro lines to get to the big event. As can be seen in the photo above, the courtyard of the Hôtel de Soubise, which backs on to the archives, is a balanced and beautiful place to be, no matter what the event or how unpleasant the weather.
The forum was really more of a fair, a gathering of almost all of the genealogy circles of France. There were no talks, seminars, free cheese or cocktail parties. Each circle had a table, a computer, leaflets and enthusiasts. Each was offering to do free searches of their databases of birth, marriage and death data which their volunteers have painstakingly extracted from parish and civil registrations in their departments. Each table had people lining up for the service and help that the generally jolly volunteers provided so willingly.
Additionally, tables were in place for La Librairie de la Voûte, selling books and magazines, and for Bigenet, the online database of the FFG. The staff of the national archives took full advantage of a weekend posse of dedicated customers. They offered tours and detailed explanations of how to access their collections. Some took the opportunity to ask people to sign a petition to prevent the plan of President Sarkozy to use archives space for a museum of French history. (No space, they claim, rightly.)
However, the high point of the day for us was the opportunity to meet for the first time with the illustrious genealogist and supportive reader of this blog, Monsieur C. He gave us much of his valuable time. We may have learned more about French genealogy during our conversation with him over lunch at La Terrasse des Archives than from all the circles' tables that day.
©2010 Anne Morddel