Try as we might, none of us can hold back the waters of Time. We all go one day, some having prepared in advance for those who remain and some not. Genealogical research through the court documents of the cases brought about because things were left in a mess, or perhaps tidy but disputed, can be very rewarding. In fact, the more a family bickered in court, the more joy for their genealogist descendant. Doesn't seem right, does it?
In any case, since Paris research using the parish and civil registrations before 1860 is so difficult, any newly online resource on Parisians is welcomed with joy, even where it is evidence of sour relations between relations. The Archives nationales would seem to have been working toward winning some sort of award not only for putting records and indices to them online for people to use at no charge, but for allowing genealogists -- in controlled situations -- to do so as well. (We have seen them filming in the reading room, in their spiffy white coats and gloves.)
Recently available on GeneaWiki are the guardianship records -- les tutelles -- for Paris from 1584 to 1791. Whenever a person died leaving minor (under aged twenty-five) children, a legal guardian had to be appointed. Normally, there was a family council to select an individual and the choice was reported to the court. The documents can name the deceased, the children, all of the members of the family council and their relationships to the children. Some of the files run to fifteen or twenty pages. These are incredibly valuable to the genealogist.
This is a collaborative project. Volunteers have filmed the documents and put them online in GeneaWiki's Paris section. Users are invited to index them. Also online is a partial index of some of the seventeenth century records, done in the nineteenth century. The documents themselves are in chronological groups, but for one, small section in alphabetical order. Thus, to be able to use this collection, you need to know when a person died in Paris to know where to begin the search. A few hints :
- The names of the deceased, the supplicant and sometimes the notaire representing the family are usually in the upper left-hand corner of the first page.
- Succon is an abbreviation for succession, French for inheritance. The identification of a case about the minor heirs of a Jean Martin would read: Succon Martin.
- Me is the abbreviation for Maître, the honourific used for notaires. If the notaire for the Martin case were Lenormand, his name would appear below as Me Lenormand.
This is a truly fanfare-worthy resource.
Addendum : The images are uploaded by Projet Familles Parisiennes, on whose pages one can find the nascent index. The images are hosted by geneanet.org. About one image in every two hundred is hopelessly out of focus.
©2012 Anne Morddel