Have you ever tried to find out if a particular French archive has in its collection papers on a particular subject? One can use BORA for private archives, one can Google rabidly, maniacally, wildly, desperately, and then one must trawl the repertoires (indices) and inventaires (listings). All of this can just about drive a person mad. The deep throes of true insanity come when one realises that the only possible way of perhaps finding the sought-after subject or names is to read through hundreds of pages of indices and of lists of carton and dossier titles for each archives. Observe our response above.
The Departmental Archives of Aube is piloting a way to ease this pain. Using the Wiki software - "the simplest online database that could possibly work", they are asking visitors to the website to participate in key wording and annotating the collections, thus making them searchable at a deeper level. Users register on the MyArchive page, and can then receive instructions and get started, either doing original work or correcting and adding to that of others. The local genealogy circle has embraced this and all ready extracted over 200,000 surnames.
The hope is to find new and better ways to navigate the archives' contents via the internet. This is a significant opening of doors and is to be applauded. Anyone may participate, if able to read and write French to a high level. This would be a fine way for those who use archives from abroad to make a contribution in return.
©2011 Anne Morddel