Affiches, Annonces et Avis Divers was the name used by a number of publications throughout France during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Generally, they were published weekly, were approximately A5 size and only eight or ten pages. They were a summary of public notices of such events and items as:
- Estate sales
- Theatrical performances
- Houses for sale or rent
- Courses offered on a variety of subjects
- Objects lost, sometimes with a reward offered
- Currency exchange rates
- Housing or items wanted
- Book reviews
Should one be able to find them and willing to slog through them, they can yield a sumptuous harvest indeed, as in the announcement pictured below of an estate sale in Le Mans that names not only the deceased but the heirs in the paternal and maternal lines. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)
Only a few of these seem to be online. Some are on Gallica. Some are on Google Books. Some are on the Internet Archive. The physical objects are found in libraries and Departmental Archives. The Bibliothèque nationale at the Tolbiac branch has a near complete set of those for Paris (in which , by the way, the burials are given in supplements, not in the main publication.)
An ongoing project of Fred and Alain Raisonnier with FranceGenWeb is to index all of the burials listed in the Affiches, Annonces, et Avis Divers for Paris. As so many Paris records were burned during the Commune, this is a great help for those tracing Parisians. To date, the Raisonniers have indexed issues from 1751 through 1779, some 24, 573 burials, and the information is on a database entitled Enterremens, which can be searched by surname. The results are in a chart with the column headings:
- First names
- Date of burial
- Parish of burial
- Marital Status
- Spouse's first name
- Spouse's surname
The one bit of information not included in the index and almost always included in the announcement is the name of the street where the person died. We do not know why this was omitted, as it could be helpful in identifying a person.
We did a sample search on Marie Anne Gaubert and got the following results (again, click on the image to see a larger version):
Note that it gives not only people named Gaubert, but variations of the name and those whose spouses had the name. Our Marie Anne died in 1761, aged one hundred. She was buried in the parish of Saint Eustache. Her husband was Jean Baptiste Ferillion.
At the top of the page of results, one can click on a tiny line: Les dates de parution des fascicules et références. This arrives at a page with the years. Click on a year to get the publication date, usually a week or two after the burial. Then click on voir les cotes des affiches, to go to a page with the call letters for the physical volume in the Bibliothèque nationale. Then, trundle over to Tolbiac to see the actual page and burial notice. Below is that for Marie Anne Gaubert.
That is quite a lot of extra work to do to discover that she died in rue de la Cossonnerie, but it could be the magical tidbit needed in your research.
The estate sales, to our knowledge, are not indexed, and this is where the slogging begins. Just read on through the next year or so of issues to see if there may not have been one. Even if not, the details are quite amazing, so much so that the Affiches, Annonces et Avis Divers have been used by art historians at auction houses and museums to prove the provenance of works.
©2012 Anne Morddel