Bulletin de l'Alliance Israélite Universelle
Preserving the Monuments aux Morts

Genealogy Rescue Service

Theseus and Minotaur

There are days when we can feel overwhelmed by the struggle to find the truth, the facts and to understand them correctly. Genealogical research can be difficult at any time, never more so than when one is confronted with a pile of papers that may or may not contain the very nuggets we seek but, because we cannot read them, we do not know. A group of genealogists in France have set up a service to come to the rescue, appropriately named SOS Généalogie.

We find their approach amusing. They offer "genealogy coaching" whereby they will help you to further your research and advise you on your technique. They offer a "plus service" whereby they will do the work for you. They also offer a most helpful palaeography service, whereby they will speedily transcribe old documents for you. For this, one prints the order form from the website, and sends it with a cheque and a copy of the troublesome pages. Within a couple of weeks, voilà!, the transcription (NOT translation, please note) arrives in the post.

The person responsible for the palaeography section is the esteemed blogger Stéphane Cosson, who recently wrote on his blog an analysis of the eighty-two clients SOS Paléographie has had in its three and a half years of operation. It would seem that there are more men than women, but that the women at least try to transcribe the documents themselves first, while the men do not bother. He has eleven regular customers, again more men than women. Few want help with genealogy, just with reading the documents. He suggests that this may indicate a possible area for further business development.

This last hints at a concern among professional genealogists in France that the increasing online availability of archival records and the new-found passion of many people for genealogy as a hobby will put the pros out of business. They see their hitherto serious profession being reduced to a popular pastime, rates being lowered, and client lists dwindling as people do their own research online. We have noted that some professionals do all that they can to show the inferior results of these amateur researchers, hoping to stay above the rising and apparently noxious tide. Not so the SOS team, who have jumped right in and offer to help the baffled beginners.

They have our recommendation.

 ©2011 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

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