Recently, we had the opportunity to go on a junket to Montauban and to work in the Departmental Archives of Tarn-et-Garonne. Being one of the smallest of the French departments, Tarn-et-Garonne has not a lot of cash, and the department's archives are not wealthy. This does not mean, however, that they are in any way shabby. The workspace is small but clean, modern and comfortable. The archives cat -- a feisty calico we were warned not to stroke -- seems to do a good job keeping the rats and mice out of the collection. The parish and civil registrations are online at the excellent website of the Archives départementales, and that does not come cheap.
Where the money has not gone, and for which we shall ever be grateful, is to the scanning or filming of all the rest of the collection. It seems that almost nothing other than what is all ready online has been filmed. This does not mean that one cannot see the documents. Rather, it means that one has the sensual joy of handling the originals, many on vellum, with calf-skin covers. A Canadian diplomat we know visited Paris lately and told of early treaties in the archives of his country, of the governmental holiness one must have to be allowed access to them, the white gloves one must wear to handle them. Not so in the Tarn-et-Garonne archive, bless their cotton socks. They plunk down on a table a notaire's book (above) or land records drawn up for Louis XVI and let one have at it, fending off the cat as one goes. Absolute heaven!
The holdings here are of particular interest to researchers on Protestants. Montauban was one of the most Protestant of all cities in France. In 1560, its bishops and magistrates declared it a Protestant city. They evicted the monks of the town and tore down the cathedral. Within ten years, it was a Huguenot centre and formed a republic. Montauban headed the Huguenot Rebellion of 1621 and fought off a siege by Louis XIII for eighty-six days, surrendering only when it was learned that La Rochelle -- the leading Huguenot city -- had fallen. Protestant records are numerous in the archives, and the Protestant registers are online on the website.
A good source of basic information about the archives can be had on Quercy.net. To use the departmental archives of Tarn-et-Garonne, the procedure is the same as at all others: it is free, but one must register and receive a user's card. Belongings must be put in one of the lockers provided. Pencil only at the tables. Digital photography (no flash) is permitted. One requests documents or registers by computer and they are brought to one's assigned place by the staff. There is a limit of ten requests per half day. Deliveries are every fifteen minutes except during lunch, which is from 12.00 to 14.00.
Just a few meters from the archives is a flash hotel with a spa. That was a bit too la-di-da for us, but it would be very convenient for any voyaging researchers.
Archives départementales de Tarn-et-Garonne
14 avenue du 10e Dragons
Tel: + 33 (0) 5 63 03 46 18
Open Mondays to Fridays 8.30-17.00 - Closed annually for the first two weeks of July.
©2010 Anne Morddel