There are some online resources for French genealogical research that should be approached only by the doughty. In this category we place the website of FranceGenWeb, the French participant in the WorldGenWeb Project.
Its pages remind us of a jumble sale, with its heaps of items on tables with such labels as "shoes", "coats", "toasters" and so forth. The site has, scattered across the front page, the following:
- A search box for a surname search in its databases (of which there are currently 19)
- Titles of a half dozen posts on the blog of FranceGenWeb
- Latest entries into its membership directory
- News from surname studies in different departments
- Latest uploads of family crests
- Photos uploaded of anything from pictures of churches to unknown soldiers to musicians on the Titanic
- Genealogy Tools and Guides
- Events in the news related to genealogy, from cemetery desecration the departmental archives updates
- Meetings of genealogy groups all over the country
- Information on genealogy books
- Dates for upcoming cousinades
- Links to each of the databases mentioned above
In its effort to create a location that provides or links to all that is freely available concerning genealogy in France, it has in truth made a shambles of it. The pages seem almost incoherent because of the overcrowding. Some of the databases are duplicated elsewhere, such as the names of soldiers on memorials or the lists of town mayors. Others seem to be unique. There is here a central place of request for entraide (volunteers who operate in a way similar to that of "random acts of genealogical kindness") for the entire country. We also very much like the database of the extracts of the six thousand marriages blessed with a dowry by Napoleon in celebration of his marriage to Marie-Louise of Austria.
The guides for beginners are quite helpful. There is a handy little one-way converter of dates from the Republican calendar. There are links to other sources, and most of the databases above can be found on Geneanet.org, so the overlap with other websites and resources is significant. Of course FranceGenWeb is free and Geneanet is not. It is a hard slog to get the best out of FranceGenWeb, but it can, on occasion, yield pleasant results.
©2011 Anne Morddel