(01) Ain Capital: Bourg-en-Bresse.
Archives Numériques Départementales de l'Ain. Online: parish registers, civil registers, censuses. Wonderfully they also have put up the Tables de Succession, (lists of those who died and whether or not they left a will) and the Matricules, (military recruitment documents) for some communes. Excellent!
(02) Aisne Capital: Laon.
On a very nice site that works well: parish and civil registrations, land records and maps, and many images of historical and genealogical value. There is a nice section on genealogy to help one get started. Additionally, it is possible via a different search page to see all documentation relating to a particular commune.
(03) Allier Capital : Moulins
The parish and civil registrations for over 300 communes are now online and free. One must click an agreement form before access is allowed. Nice site.
(04) Alpes-de-Haute-Provence Capital: Digne-les-Bains
Online: parish and civil registers, annual indices, ten-year indices, censuses, land records.
(05) Hautes-Alpes Capital: Gap.
Online: parish and civil registers, marriage banns, ten-year indices.
(07) Ardèche Capital: Privas. Online: parish and civil registers, ten-year indices, land records, Protestant registrations, military registers, and censuses.
(08) Ardennes Capital: Charleville-Mézières. Online: the ten-year indices with a list of all communes, and land records, parish registers and civil registers from the 16th century to 1850. Civil registrations from 1851 to 1890 are almost complete.
(10) Aube Capital: Troyes. Online: ten-year indices, post cards of various towns and villages, land records. NEW! Parish and civil registrations from 1552 to 1892 are now online. EXCELLENT ADDITION: a surname index to the registrations -- with some 200,000 names!
(11) Aude Capital: Carcassonne. NEW! Online: parish and civil registrations from 1547 to 1872 and some ten-year indices.
(12) Aveyron Capital: Rodez. New!!! Online: parish and civil registrations from the 16th to the end of the 19th century.
(13) Bouches-du-Rhône Capital: Marseille. Online: parish and civil registers, land records, censuses from 1836-1931, old post cards. NEW! Military recruitment registers from 1872 to 1912.
(14) Calvados Capital: Caen. DIRE! DIRE! DIRE news: all of the parish and civil records and the ten-year indices and annual indices have just been put online BUT there is a charge to see them. It is not much, but it still is there and we consider this to be very bad form. The site has left some interesting pictures of the Normandy invasion free to view.
(15) Cantal Capital: Aurillac. Online: parish and civil registers, ten-year indices, censuses, alphabetic indices to military enlistments, photographs, AND notarial records and Holocaust records that relate to Cantal! In 2010, the website won a prize for the way it is possible for users to index collaboratively the civil registrations.
(16) Charente Capital: Angoulême. Online: census records for 1842 to 1872, land records, teachers' notebooks, church inventories, old post cards of local towns, villages and sites. NEW! Parish and civil registrations are now online, but there is a charge to view them.
(17) Charente-Maritime Capital: La Rochelle. Online: parish, Protestant and civil registers; post cards; photographs of the Second World War; Notarial records of Jonzac. Getting better every day!
(18) Cher Capital: Bourges. Now Online! As with many, but not all, you must create an account. This will gain you access to parish and civil registrations, censuses, maps, indices to military registrations.
(19) Corrèze Capital: Tulle. Online: ongoing adding of parish and civil registers. The records of 51 more communes have just been added.
(2A) Corse-du-Sud Capital: Ajaccio. Goofy website. You will have to do some copy-paste work. For the military conscription lists from 1859 to 1918, those of the Garde Mobile from 1865 to 1870: http://www1.arkhenum.fr/
For the newly up census returns: http://www1.arkhenum.fr/
There is also a very nice surname list. The archives of the city of Bonifacio, dating from 1682, are now online at
(2B) Haute-Corse Capital: Bastia. Online: Maps, civil registrations from 1792 to 1902.
(21) Côte-d'Or Capital: Dijon. Online: parish and civil registers, ten-year indices, censuses 1800 to 1936, indices to the military recruitment lists, court and judicial records, administrative records,maps, tables to notarial records, and much more.
(22) Côtes-d'Armor Capital: Saint-Brieuc. Online: land records, parish and civil registrations, census records to 1906, will indices, post cards, posters, photograph collections.
(23) Creuse Capital: Guéret. New website! Online: Parish and civil registrations, maps, posters from the Second World War, census returns, military recruitment lists, and -- very nice -- alphabetic indices to inheritances.
(24) Dordogne Capital: Périgueux. Online: land records, ten-year indices, and now, all parish and civil registrations.
(25) Doubs Capital: Besançon. Online: Ten-year indices. To use the search facility, one must register, but there is no charge.
(26) Drôme Capital: Valence. Online: parish registers, ten-year indices, civil registers up to 1852, notarial archives, land records.
(27) Eure Capital: Évreux. Online: parish and civil registers, military recruitment lists, censuses, old postcards.
(28) Eure-et-Loir Capital: Chartres. Online: Parish registers, civil registers, land records, censuses, church plans.
(29) Finistère Capital: Quimper. Online: Maps, parish and civil registrations census returns, military recruitment lists, all a bit awkward to use.
(30) Gard Capital: Nîmes. Difficulties abound. The archives are closed to the public from September, 2012 until some time in 2013, when the new location will open. A temporary Readers' Room has been set up. Online: No genealogical records are online as yet. However, the municipal archives of Nîmes have placed some indices online:
(31) Haute-Garonne Capital: Toulouse. Online: Land records, parish and civil registers, military recruitment lists, marriage contracts from Toulouse from 1501 to 1739, censuses, insinuations from 1693 to 1790. The site is maddening in that images cannot be adjusted; there is no possibility to zoom in or out.
(32) Gers Capital: Auch. Online: Finding aids and maps, with more promised soon.
(33) Gironde Capital: Bordeaux. Online: Transcriptions of parish registers, 182 registers of the Admiralty of Guyenne, a list of communes for which the records are being scanned. Expected date when the civil registers will be online: 2010. The ten-year indices are online now.
(34) Hérault Capital: Montpellier. Online: Military recruitment registers, parish and civil registers, censuses, land records, notarial records.
(35) Ille-et-Vilaine Capital: Rennes. Online: Land records, parish and civil registrations for most but not quite yet all locations. For Rennes see the Archives municipales de Rennes.
(36) Indre Capital: Châteauroux. Online: Finding aids, maps, parish and civil registrations, ten-year indices, census returns. The site is much improved recently.
(37) Indre-et-Loire Capital: Tours. Online: Parish registers have just gone up! Also : Ten-year indices, land records, old post cards and records of wills filed (Tables de successions - very useful, these), military conscription lists.
(38) Isère Capital: Grenoble. Online: Ten-year indices, and just up: parish and civil registrations.
(39) Jura Capital: Lons-le-Saunier. This has to be one of the most helpful archives in the country. New website just up, with maps, postcards and historic photographs but not yet any parish or civil registrations.
(40) Landes Capital: Mont-de-Marsan. Lots of problems with this site, and many efforts to repair them, finally leading to a new site. Online: Parish and civil registrations, military recruitment lists, maps, town meeting minute books.
(41) Loir-et-Cher Capital: Blois. Online: parish and civil registrations, census returns, indices to military recruitment lists, maps.
(42) Loire Capital: Saint-Étienne. Just put online: Ten-year indices, parish and civil registers.
(43) Haute-Loire Capital: Le Puy-en-Velay. Online: Nice new website which has parish and civil registrations, ten-year indices to same, and the beautiful documents of the Chaise-Dieu Abbey.
(44) Loire-Atlantique Capital: Nantes. Online: Parish registers, civil registers, censuses, land records, maps, old post cards, notarial records and more. Expected soon: the archives of the dukes of Bretagne. This is one of the best of the AD sites.
(45) Loiret Capital: Orléans. Online: NEW! Civil registrations from 1833 to 1902 are now online. However, there are some that will never be online, for they were destroyed during the Second World War.
(46) Lot Capital: Cahors. Online: Parish and civil registrations to 1902, including clerk's copies, census records, succession tables, military registers. This site has had some trouble but seems to be working properly as of November 2012.
(47) Lot-et-Garonne Capital: Agen. Much improved! Online now: civil registrations of the 19th century, census returns, many maps and land records, photographs, old post cards, unique funds of local history and customs, and the recordings of the accounts of some Spanish refugees.
(48) Lozère Capital: Mende. An all new website! Online: the parish and civil registers from the 17th century to 1902, photographs, maps, post cards, town histories, insinuations. Unusually, the municipal archives of the capitol city are at the same site. Nice little bit of cooperation, that.
(49) Maine-et-Loire Capital: Angers. Online: Parish and civil registrations, land records, ten-year indices. NEW! Military recruitment lists, cahiers de doléances and more.
(50) Manche Capital: Saint-Lô. Just up Online: Land records, parish and civil registrations and ten-year indices. Click on moteur de recherche, then on état civil. There is a nifty little video explaining how to use the search engine. NEW! Military conscription lists are being added.
(51) Marne Capital: Châlons-en-Champagne. New! Online: parish and civil registrations, maps, censuses, and land records.
(52) Haute-Marne Capital: Chaumont. Online: finding aids and land records are online. Gradually being added are: parish and civil registers, ten-year indices, and notarial records. Here, one can also read the interesting "Notes généalogiques du Baron de l'Horme".
(53) Mayenne Capital: Laval. Online: parish and civil registers from the 16th century to 1882, ten-year indices, a data base created by volunteers of the details from the marriages of the 19th century, military registers, census lists from 1836 to 1906, land records, transcriptions of marginal notes from the parish registers. Mayenne is acknowledged as the gold standard of departmental archives online.
(54) Meurthe-et-Moselle Capital: Nancy. Online: parish and civil registers up to 1882, land records. There is a warning that records for Toul are incomplete, owing to a fire there in 1939.
(55) Meuse Capital: Bar-le-Duc. Online: The parish and civil registers are now online, as are military conscription lists and some censuses.
(57) Moselle Capital: Metz. Online: an extensive site. The first phase of putting records online has begun with the parish registrations prior to 1793 for about 500 towns and villages.
(58) Nièvre Capital: Nevers. Online: finding aids, list of communes, old post cards, cahiers de doléances, pregnancy declarations, censuses, military conscriptions, parish registrations and civil registrations are completed. Unusually organised that is very helpful to the genealogist.
(59) Nord Capital: Lille. Online: Ten-year indices, parish and civil registrations, military recruitment lists, land records, 1906 census. The archives are relocating. Check the website before visiting the facility.
(60) Oise Capital: Beauvais. Online: old post cards, parish maps, parish and civil registers, censuses, military registers. It is necessary to register with the site; this is free.
(61) Orne Capital: Alençon. Online: parish and civil registers to 1902, ten-year indices.
(62) Pas-de-Calais Capital: Arras. Online: Lots of advice, plus ten-year indices to parish and civil registrations up to 1912, census records from 1820 to 1886, military recruitment records through 1921, land records.
(63) Puy-de-Dôme Capital: Clermont-Ferrand. Online: All parish and civil records, a wonderful collection of notarial files, images of clerical seals and finding aids. Nicely done.
(64) Pyrénées-Atlantiques Capital: Pau. Now online: land records, finding aids, parish and civil registrations, notarial records. One must complete a short registration form, but the site is free to use.
(65) Haute-Pyrénées Capital: Tarbes. Online: no genealogical records are online. However, the city of Tarbes has put up its parish and civil registers from 1611 to 1909 on www.archives.tarbes.fr
(66) Pyrénées-Orientales Capital: Perpignan. Online: finding aids only. Hints are that the registers will be online by 2012. Okay, 2013.
(67) Bas-Rhin Capital: Strasbourg. Online: parish and civil registrations and census records, now up to 1912. Also a very interesting discussion of an early 19th century manuscript of a history of Jews in Alsace, by Jacob Meyer. A new website has just been launched.
(68) Haut-Rhin Capital: Colmar. Online: the heraldic devices for each commune, a list of those who died in the two World Wars, a list of all of the mairies (town halls). NEW! Civil registrations from 1798 are now up. Also, ten-year indices and lists of Jewish names. Serious teething problems abound; the site is incredibly slow and often does not work. We predict a crash.
(69) Rhône Capital: Lyon. Online: Censuses from 1836, parish and civil registrations from 1527, military recruitment registers, maps, indices to notarial records, a very large collection on orphans. Bravo!
(70) Haute-Saône Capital: Vesoul. Online: Land records and census records. Just up in May 2010: civil and parish registrations, conscription registers and bureaux de succession registers are all now online. Exceedingly helpful staff. Ten-year indices for many communes can be found on the website of the local genealogy group, Serv@nc'nautes :
(71) Saône-et-Loire Capital: Mâcon. Online: land records, ten-year indices, parish and civil registers to 1902, censuses from 1836 to 1901, cahiers de doléances, post cards, and a nice facility to see all that is available for each town.
(72) Sarthe Capital: Le Mans. Online: land records, parish and civil records to 1850, military registers.
(73) Savoie Capital: Chambéry. Online : maps, some ten-year indices, census records from the 16th to 20th centuries, parish and civil registers from 1501 to 1793 and from 1815 to 1860. Also: some old newspapers, indices to maps, posters, etc.
(74) Haute-Savoie Capital: Annecy. Online: NEW! Parish and civil registrations, censuses and military conscriptions from 1860 to 1940, and maps.
(75) Paris Online: the existing and reconstructed parish and civil registers are online, with the identical system to that used in the archives, which is not the easiest. New!: The military recruitment registers from 1875-1909 and the long, long lists of the first names of children accepted into care from 1742-1909.
(76) Seine-Maritime Capital: Rouen. Parish and civil registrations up to 1912 and in some cases up to 1935. Promised soon are maps. Fingers crossed for passenger lists of ships sailing from Le Havre!
(77) Seine-et-Marne Capital: Melun. Online: Censuses, ten-year indices, notarial records, parish and civil registrations. NEW! Marriage banns, military conscription lists, World War One photographs.
(78) Yvelines and the old Seine et Oise Capital: Versailles. Online: ten-year indices, parish and civil registrations, military recruitment, censuses, land records, cahiers de doléances, community monographs (histories). A very nice site, but as of mid-2011, it does not work with Safari.
(79) Deux-Sèvres Capital: Niort. Online: parish and civil registers, land records and census records. Nice, clean site. NEW: military conscription registers are now online.
(80) Somme Capital: Amiens. Online: old post cards, seals. NEW! with a new website: parish and civil registrations, censuses, land records, local histories, seals, photographs of WWI, and.....(drum roll) a user's guide in English.
(81) Tarn Capital: Albi. Online: some parish registers, civil registers, ten-year indices, land records. It is necessary to register to use the site.
(82) Tarn-et-Garonne Capital: Montauban. Online: Ten-year indices, civil and parish registrations dating back to 1590. New! The local copies of parish registrations, giving an important supplement, filling many gaps in the central administration's sets of registrations. Excellent!!!
(83) Var Capital: Toulon. Online: land records, censuses, ten-year indices, medieval notarial records, architectural records cahiers de doléances, records about the liberation of Var during WWII. The site has been recently improved and cleaned up.
(84) Vaucluse Capital: Avignon. Online: parish and civil registrations for some towns and ten-year indices for all.
(85) Vendée Capital: La-Roche-sur-Yon. Online: parish and civil registers, censuses, notarial records, land records, old post cards. New!: faire part, notarial minutes and délibérations municipales.
(86) Vienne Capital: Poitiers. Online: parish and civil registers (now up to 1912), land records, census lists. Interesting: A collection of notes on cards made during the 1950s extracting further information on Protestants, abandoned children and more. ALSO, the military registrations from 1867-1908.
(87) Haute-Vienne Capital: Limoges. Online: Land records and finding aids only. Latest word is that the parish and civil registrations could be on-line around the end of 2014. The story is that there seems to be a problem of damp and fungus on the records.
(88) Vosges Capital: Épinal. Newly online: parish registers from 1526, civil registers to 1905, the ten-year indices, and recently the censuses for the years from 1886 to 1906. Very nicely done, with easy printing.
(89) Yonne Capital: Auxerre. Online: parish and civil registers. NEW! Census records are up.
(90) Territoire de Belfort Capital: Belfort. A very nice new site with plenty online: parish and civil registrations, censuses, military registrations, and land records. Additionally, local archivists have created an excellent site of indexed data from the parish and civil registrations. It is a bilingual site:
(91) Essonne Capital: Évry. Online: Parish and civil registers, censuses, land records, and 184 village and town histories written for the 1900 Paris Expo. Just up: indices to notaires' minutes.
(92) Hauts-de-Seine Capital: Nanterre. Online: maps and the ten-year indices to the civil registrations through 1912, and now the civil registrations from 1792 to 1907.
(94) Val-de-Marne Capital: Créteil. Online: parish and civil registers, ten-year indices, land records, finding aids. Nice, easy site to use. Wonderfully interested, knowledgeable and helpful staff. NEW: census records are now online, from 1795 (!) to 1906.
(95) Val-d'Oise Capital: Cergy-Pontoise. Online: Finally! With a lovely new website: parish registrations from the 16th century to 1792, civil registrations from 1793-1900, ten-year indices, and census returns from 1917 to 1936.
(971) Guadeloupe Capital: Basse-Terre. Online: no genealogical records are online.
(972) Martinique Capital: Fort-de-France. This is actually the website of BNPM - The Banque Numérique des Patrimoines Martiniquais. Online: the actes d'individualité of freed slaves, 1848-1851.
(973) Guyane Capital: Cayenne. Online: finding aids only. Preparation to put parish and civil registrations online is under way. There is an excellent list of links to other research resources.
(974) La Réunion Capital: Saint-Denis. Online: no records are online, but there is a nice new site for the archives.
The French Genealogy Blog will be coming to Montreal in a few weeks' time. We should be delighted to meet those of you who are in or near that fine city. Should we set up a meeting? Send us an e-mail, if you are interested.
At the Genco 2012 forum, GenVerrE, (the acronym is for Généalogie des Verriers d'Europe) was a significant and pretty interesting presence. They had a large stand, laden with their many publications, and one of their members, Benoît Painchart, gave the talk "Les gentilhommes-verriers, entre légendes et héritages culturels".
As GenVerrE write in their brochure, glass makers, or glass blowers, were flourishing in what is now Rhineland-Palatinate from at least the fifteenth century. Much of that region and Alsace-Lorraine were decimated by the "most murderous and devastating war ever endured by Lorraine", e.g. the Thirty Years War, ended by the Peace of Westphalia.
Louis XIV had fortresses contructed in his acquired territory and then tried to lure new people to live there and replace all those killed during the war. With a sense of security thanks to the fortresses and with the privileges promised by Cardinal Mazarin, chief minister of France, whole villages moved to the region. They came from Picardie, the Swiss Confederacy, Savoie, Italy, happy to accept freely distributed land and tax exemptions. The glass makers came mostly from Bade-Wurtemberg, the Swiss cantons, the Tyrol and Italy "and found in abundance all that they needed for glass making: sand, fire wood, and water".
These migrations "relaunched the industry and art of glass making in the entire north east of France. The small glass works of the eighteenth century became the world-known manufacturers Portieux, Baccarat, Saint-Louis, and Meisenthal."
GenVerrE is committed not only to the further discovery of the history of glass making but also to the identification of the families of glass makers of France and Europe. They publish "Eclats de Verre" a revue of the genealogies of glass making families and of which the twentieth number has just appeared. They maintain close links with other national associations of those studying the families of glass makers in their countries. As so many moved around so much, these links are very important to the research. Their publications list is impressive, with original research as well as extracts from civil and parish registrations.
If one of your French ancestors happened to have been a glass maker, these people will be pleased to help you to know more. Bonne chance!
Psychogénéalogie (transgenerational psychotherapy in English) is fairly new as a field of study and work. It was founded in France by Anne Ancelin Schützenberger, a psychotherapist with a background in psychodrama and group therapy, in the 1970s. Essentially, the theory is that a trauma that occurred in a family long ago could be felt still in the descendants, causing them suffering even when they may not know of the trauma. Suffering that is untreated passes from one generation to the next. This is described at length in her book, The Ancestor Syndrome.
At the Genco 2012 forum, psycho-généalogisteLiliane Vaschalde had a stand with leaflets. She explained her process, which is not dissimilar to that of other practitioners. It entails researching one's genealogy back, ideally, five generations and, crucially, filling in as much history and cultural understanding as possible. A génosociogramme, or genogram, is constructed, providing the framework for the therapy sessions. These sessions cover family secrets and inexplicable coincidences, such as people dying on the anniversary of an ancestor's death, or the passing of psychological traits -- such as rage -- down through the generations.
We have neither undergone such treatment nor studied it in any depth, and so we cannot in any way vouch for it; but we can affirm that, for some, the need to understand often leads to genealogy. We have been asked on occasion to research a lineage purely because someone hoped to find an explanation for a parent's or grandparent's behaviour. In one case, we were able to locate a case file from the late nineteenth century which went a long way toward such an explanation. It would have made a psycho-généalogiste beam exultantly.
The following videos are from a France 2 presentation on psychogénéalogie, from Dailymotion.com.
We recently had the opportunity to attend a local genealogy gathering, in Brive-la-Gaillarde, capital of Corrèze. At such a gathering, or forum de généalogie, as is the term here, representatives of genealogy cercles, or associations, set up stands in a hall or garden and offer to help anyone researching in their department. A couple of years ago (Heavens! Have we really been writing this blog so long?) we wrote of such a forum at the national level in Paris, Géné@2010.
The cercles are generous with their time and resources. They come with computers laden with data bases. They display copies of their publication. They bring their impressive expertise and a kind willingness to share. In this way, they help people who cannot travel to various Departmental Archives to do research and those who have hit a brick wall in their research. Members of the various cercles will give a couple of hours of free advice and suggestions; they will search their data bases of details extracted (and alphabetized!) from parish and civil registrations and print out the results at no cost. A forum généalogique is a rather lovely example of human sharing and unselfishness.
At this forum in Brive, we were pleasantly taken aback at the number and size of stands at what is really only a regional event. There were 156 stands. To be sure, some were there to present the works of local authors, not all of whom were writers on genealogical subjects. Others presented local crafts, such as truffle hunting, paper making and -- our favourite of the day -- basket weaving.
There were talks as well. Madame Marie Odile Mergnac, probably the most published author in French genealogy, explained the use of cadastres in genealogy. Monsieur Christophe Drugy elaborated upon his book about researching Belgian and Dutch ancestors. There was a competition, which we did not win.
In our next post, we will tell of some of the more interesting stands and the work of their cercles.
Mr. Fauconnet was still waiting for an answer from Washington and so continued on his own, trying to keep various men whom he considered to be French nationals from being drafted into the United States Army. In April, 1865, he wrote again to Major General Hurlbut, repeating his argument that a man born in the United States, the son of a French citizen who was residing in the United States but who had not taken American nationality was a French citizen like his father and therefore a neutral in the American Civil War and not eligible for the draft. He rather heroically said of his work on their behalf:
"...I will continue to fulfil my duty, which is to protect, with all means in my power, all those French nationals so declared to me, wherever they may have been born."
He then added a claim for the exemption of another young man:
"The attached pages which I have the honour to send to you concern a young Frenchman, a minor of 21 years, who consequently has not relinquished his French nationality by exercising the rights of an American citizen [eg. by voting in an American election].
"For minors living with their parents, I am certainly not in the habit of requiring that they register [as French citizens with the consulate] until they reach the age of majority, however this young man was entered into the register on the 11th of August, 1864, which is to say at the age of 20 and a few months. According to his father, he was born in France* and his registration reflects this and is shown in the certificate of nationality attached. Additionally, I send you affadavits made before a notary by the father, the son, and two witnesses that neither the one nor the other ever violated their neutrality nor committed any act that would have compromised their French nationality.
"I do believe, General, with all these considerations, that you will be pleased to admit the French nationality of Antoine Aimé Dupierris and will give the necessary orders for him to receive a certificate of exemption, which you will please send to me immediately."
Hurlbut was having none of it:
"...In the case in question [of Pierre Camille Dubos], the party has never put himself beyond the control of his native state since his birth. The general right of transfer of allegiance must be exercised by a change of domicile as this is the only evidence to the Government of the fact. In this case, even if the party had gone to France and become a naturalized citizen of that country, upon a return to this country, his national character would revert with his domicile.
"...Holding as I do to these premises, I must decline to exempt this party [Antoine Aimé Dupierris] from the Draft, nor can I admit the right of the class of persons referred to by you, to demand time to remove from the country. Neither am I authorized to suspend the Draft until the question has been settled at Washington. But I can assure you that, should the authorities decide in favor of the rule held by you, those who shall claim exemption in time will not be held to service.
"I am your most obedient servant, S.A. Hurlbut. Maj. Genl. Comd'g"
Mr. Fauconnet wrote back, repeating his argument again, and quoting Wheaton and Major General Banks once more, to no avail. He received this from Major General Hurlbut:
"Headquarters Department of the Gulf
"New Orleans April 8th 1865
"I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your communication the 7th of April, inst.
"I have had the honor to inform you that the principle of Law settled heretofore by Major General Canby in approval of my views must stand unless overruled in Washington, and that the whole business of the Draft moves under his orders.
"I will do all I can; if you contemplate an appeal to the Secretary of War through the French Minister, I will grant time to those who claim your intervention, until the appeal can be decided, upon their giving the usual bond of $1000 to appear in case they shall be held to service.
"If this meets your wishes, you will please forward to me the names and residence of the persons of American birth claiming French nationality who have been drafted, and I will frame the necessary orders for delay.
"I am Sir, with high respect,
"Your Obedient Servant,
"S.A. Hurlbut, M.G.C."
No list of names appears in the file. We fear that Mr. Fauconnet, for all his bravery, may have had to surrender.
And so, we see that 150 years ago, the views on nationality between New World and Old World countries was even then as we described in our post On Nationality: in the New World, nationality is determined by political borders, in this case a person having been born or residing within them; in the Old World, nationality is a matter of race, which is why Mr. Fauconnet insisted that a man with a French father was himself nothing other than French.
Europe has been a crowded place for a long time. America is only just beginning to be so. One wonders if, in another 150 years, the United States will so fervently insist on the American nationality of anyone residing within its borders.
In the last post, we found Mr. Fauconnet's response to be the more eloquent and to carry more weight. Colonel Robinson and, indeed, his superior, Hurlbut, bowed out of the fight, allowing Major General Canby, Commandant of the Military Division of West Mississippi, to ride into the fray:
"Hd. Qu. Mil. Div. West Miss.
"New Orleans, Feby 21, 1865
"With the few exceptions recognized by the law of Nations, the accident of birth determines the question of native allegiance, and the duties and obligations of this relation are determined by the municipal laws of the country in which the parents are domiciled. The conditions of allegiance, incident to birth, continue until legally changed, and the burden of proofs rests upon the parties claiming exemption from its obligations. The municipal laws of the country of descent do not operate until the parties place themselves within the limits of its jurisdiction, and when the parents have been domiciled so long in this country that children born here have attained or are attaining their majority, the 'animus manendi' would seem to be so conclusively established that even the parents would, under the law of France, have lost their rights of citizenship on that country. At all events the intention of returning must be fully established before any question of exemption can be admitted.
"Major Genl. Comdg."
Fauconnet replied a couple of days later:
"I the undersigned, Director of the Consulate of France, have had the honor to receive a note from Major Genl. Canby in response to that which I wrote on the 6th of February concerning persons born in this country to French parents. In it, while recusing the application of the French law in this Country as to the "status" of said persons, the General means to bend this same law to cast doubt upon the nationality of those who are French by birth to say that they, having resided here for so long that their children reach the age of majority, may be supposed to have lost their intention to return [to France].
"The undersigned accept this interpretation of French law even less than will the Government of His Majesty, who reserves the sole right to determine its application and, according to each case, to grant or to withdraw from his subjects his protection. As for persons in the United States having French parents, the accident of their birth can no more make them americans against their will in this country, than those americans born in France can be forced to take french nationality, even if they have passed the age of majority. This is explicit not only in french law but in the laws of the U.S.
"I, the undersigned, will place this question before the government in Washington and to that effect will send a copy of this correspondence to the Chargé d'Affaires de France.
"I, the undersigned, take this opportunity to renew the assurances of my highest respect and consideration for Maj. Gn. Canby.
"[Signed] The Director of the Consulate, Fauconnet."
Our grandmother used extreme formality as a weapon; she would have understood perfectly Mr. Fauconnet's performance.
During the American Civil War, there were those who were ready to serve in one or the other of the two armies, and those who preferred to avoid them both, if possible. Those who were not Americans were not expected to serve, quite naturally, and some of those who wished to avoid military service chose to point out that they were of foreign nationality. Some of these were French who were living, visiting or born in the United States, and thinking of themselves -- either honestly or conveniently -- as French nationals and not as American. In some cases, the government, whether Union or Confederate, disputed these claims.
In our happy ramblings in archives, we have come across such a dispute - epistolary and particularly clear and well written on both sides of the argument. For those of you with French forebears in the United States during the 1860s, an awareness of the nationality wrangles that were going on at the time may provide a deeper understanding of the reasons behind your ancestors' behaviour and migrations.
The combatants over the body and nationality of Pierre Camille Dubos were, on the French side, [Charles Prosper} Fauconnet, director of the French consulate in New Orleans, and on the American side, Colonel H[arai] Robinson of the First Louisiana Cavalry and his superiors. The exchange opens, seemingly in the middle, with a refusal from Colonel Robinson of a prior request on behalf of Mr. Dubos by Mr. Fauconnet, dated the 5th of February, 1865:
" Sir, I have the honor to inclose "Certificat de Nationalité" of Pierre Camille Dubos and to acknowledge receipt of your note relating to it.
"The Major-General commanding this Department directs me to state to you that he differs from you in opinion regarding the nationality of young Mr. Dubos.
"His father is a foreigner, but is permanently domiciled in this country. Mr. Pierre Camille Dubos being registered in your office according to Article "10 du Code Napoleon", may be considered a french subject when in France, but not in this country - As the fact of his being registered in your office does not prevent him from being an American citizen, by birth, at the age of twenty-one - nor can your Government, now or hereafter, claim him as a subject, or compel him to expatriate himself from the land of his birth and to proceed to France to take up arms in defence of it.
"A man must owe allegiance to the country of his birth, when every year of his life has been spent there, and his father before him has been permanently domiciled in the country.
"I cannot grant the pass you solicit until such time as other American citizens, subject to the impending draft, may have the same privilege.
"Your obedient servant, H. Robinson, Col. 1st Louisiana Cavalry, and Provost Marshall General"
Mr. Fauconnet, who had fought this battle for others, replied with force the following day:
"Colonel, I have received the letter which you have done me the honor of sending to me on the 5th inst., together with the Certificat de nationalité française of Mr. Camille Dubos.
"I have read carefully the opinion of the Major-General Commandant of the Department on the subject of the nationality of persons born here of foreign parents. I cannot at all accept this opinion and I take the liberty, before submitting a request to the Government in Washington for the intervention of the French Legation, of offering you some observations.
"I will not cite anymore article 10 of the French code, which you tell me is not applicable in this country, nor that article 9 of the same code does not require any person born in France to American or other foreign citizens, to suffer, against their will, because of the consequences of their birth; it would be good if the same consideration could be extended here to people born in this country of French parents.
"But I will cite the act of Congress of the 10th of February 1855 concerning persons born outside of the United States to American citizens and who, in the exact wording of article 10 of the French code, consequently affirm and endorse the privileges of said article.
"In addition, I find in Wheaton, the 1863 edition, : 'In view of the military draft proposed in August 1862 on account of the Southern insurrection under the head of Aliens, it was declared, by the Government at Washington, that all foreign born persons are exempt who have not been naturalized, or who are born here of foreign parents who have not become citizens, and who have not voted, nor attempted to vote, in any state or territory of the United States.' (Papers relating to foreign affairs 1862 p. 283. Mr Seward to Mr. Stewart Aug 20th 1862)'
"Finally, I will extract the following from an official letter which Major-General Banks, commandant of the department, did me the honor of sending to me on the 10th of June 1864:
" 'In this state there are a large number of citizens of french descent, who until the occurrence of the rebellion had claimed and enjoyed all the privileges due from the American Government to american citizens. At the outbreak of the war they claimed to be french subjects, and being of french origin many of them doubtless believe that they can claim the protection of the french Government. It has been deemed necessary to require from such persons, in addition to the neutral oath, a declaration that they had not assumed to act as American citizens in the elections of this country.
" 'Should such declaration be affirmed they are admitted to any privileges that we confer upon the statement embodied in the neutral oath. Should they declare that they have exercised the privileges of American citizens, that admission will not be held to change their relations to the French Government; but it is sufficient to justify a special examination of the case where such admission is made and to grant or withhold the privileges claimed, according to the equities of the case. This is the only variation from the simple oath properly required of a foreign subject not to identify himself with the contest going on in this country.'
"I will finish with these observations and citations, which I ask you please to bring to the attention of Major-General Heurlbut, that it would be most trying if the laws of a country are such that they are subject to the interpretations and contradictions of those charged with their execution.
"As I await your response, I offer you the assurance of my greatest respect.
"The Director of the Consulate of France, Fauconnet."
Was Robinson a match for Fauconnet? Read the next post!
Récits et Souvenirs The mémoires of Henri Soudée and of his parents. Soldiers, Communards, and immigrants to Martinique and the United States, their tales are fascinatingly gathered by our Dear Reader, Françoise Becker.