We find there to be something rather endearing about the arrogance and pomposity of a troupe of government officials crying Plaudite cives! after one of their tiny performances, in this case giving official recognition of the practice of genealogy as "an important cultural activity" by the Ministry of Culture and Communication. To be fair, such recognition means cash on the line for genealogy so, why not?
For researchers, though the avenues may be more twisted than Norman lace, the destination provided by the Ministry, in cooperation with the Archives nationales, is yet another useful website and collection of databases. From the look of it, it would seem that some archivists and/or bureaucrats may be toying with the idea of coming up with their own -- free -- unification of the nation's departmental archives and other collections as an alternative to the growing commercial genealogy websites. Keep your seats; it is early days yet.
We write of the website for the Ministry, www.culture.fr, which tells of events in all areas of cultural activity financed by the government, from architecture to music, from films to dance. Our newly recognised genealogy does not show up on the initial page, but click on "collections" and it is then in the magenta menu bar. Along with a short list of suggestions for how to begin researching one's family and an online course in paleography, there is the option to search eight or nine databases, which include:
- the Morts pour la France, those who died in the First World War, of the Service Historique de la Défense
- the civil registrations of Europeans in Algeria from the Archives nationales d'outre-mer
- the files of the Legion of Honour database, LEONORE
- the military recruitment list of the department of Mayenne
- the civil registrations of the departmental archives of Ain and the city archives of Vendôme and the censuses of the former
- the extracts made by the genealogy society of Lyonnais and Beaujolais, by the genealogy association of Hautes-Alpes and by the genealogy centre of provençale Drôme, furnished by Bigenet
All of these exist on other websites which have been discussed on The French Genealogy Blog. What is interesting here is that they are very different types of collections being amalgamated with one search box for all. Additionally, the search results are beautiful, giving a wealth of information in the initial list. Even nicer is the panel to the left that allows a refinement of the search, not by vague type of collection, but by a number of criteria within the results: date, department, specific record type, versions of the surname and by the database. Compared with the ghastly refinement options on the "new" search in Ancestry.com, this is exponentially superior.
Please use this many times a day, to encourage further development.
©2011 Anne Morddel