How France Has Changed
The Irish in France

Finistère Departmental Archives - A Game of Wait and See


At one time in the distant past, we had a beau who was a philosopher, a Japanese Wittgensteinian with strong leanings toward Quine. He was baffled by the expression "wait and see". 

"Does it mean that you see while you wait?" the Philosopher asked.

"No, it means if you wait, you will see."

"Is that an ontological certainty?"

"Not any kind of certainty. That's why you have to see."

"So, really, it should be wait to see, not wait and see?"

'No, that sounds wrong. It's more iffy than that." 

"Well, does it mean that, if you wait, you will see or only that you might see?"

"Agghh! It means that you will see, in the sense of understand, because either you will see or you won't see, but in either case you will understand that something has happened or it has not!"

"Understand?" the Philosopher said, pouncing. "You said nothing about understanding. Does this expression mean that seeing is understanding, empirically?"


Fed up with the wait for the Departmental Archives of Finistère to go online? So are a few others. A  large number of folks from Finistère left France for the New World and their descendants are champing at the bit, as they say, to be able to do online research on those ancestors. The folks from Finistère who stayed put have descendants who have been a tad snooty about la numérisation -- digitizing images, in this case of parish and civil registrations -- and for long have refused to discuss the very idea of putting said registrations online. Now, they say they will. It was to have been in January. It is now predicted for March. Is this mere stonewalling or dare we hope that the delay is because it will be the Mother of all Departmental Archives Websites? We can only wait and see, or perhaps wait to see.

Two cities within the boundaries of Finistère that are not waiting any longer, having seen enough, have set up their own websites with parish and civil registrations online and free to view. Both are major ports, and both are boons to genealogists.

  • Brest has had the archives of the Mairie -- the town hall -- online for a while now.  They have more than parish and civil registrations, in a somewhat haphazard list.
  • Quimper has just opened its website with parish and civil registrations, electoral lists and censuses. 


  • Roscoff writes that it has its registrations online, but we cannot get the site to work for love or money.

Though that is it for the moment for online municipal and communal archives in Finistère, remember that you can check to see what other towns have websites with the regularly updated list of the Archives de France or with the map of same maintained by GénéInfos

If these do not work for you then, sorry, but you have to wait.

©2012 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy