Since it is Saint Valentine's Day, we thought we would write about bereavement. (The commerce of publicly printing what is privately felt, you see.) Kindly recall that we have said that, during the second half of the nineteenth century, the fashionable death announcement was the faire-part, which has its origins in the placards of a century earlier. Placard currently means cupboard or closet in French, but it used to mean poster and it is in this sense that we use the term today.
On the occasion of a somewhat prominent person's death, especially if that person were a bourgeois, his or her family often would have had printed a placard to post around town, inviting all and sundry, apparently, to the funeral. The placards were fairly formulaic in content and in illustration, as can be seen:
But they are also rather wonderful, we think, and it would be a delight for a family to have a picture of one that was printed for their ancestor, if possible.
The publications entitled Affiches, Annonces et Avis Divers obtained their information on burials, "enterremens", from affiches, (this being another word for placards or posters). Each week, someone went around town and took a copy of each poster announcing a funeral, or perhaps printers sent them directly to the publisher. In any case, the placards were the source for the enterremens listings. If, using the online service explained here, you find your ancestor in the Affiches, Annonces et Avis Divers for the city in which he or she died, you can then go to the relevant Departmental Archives and look for the placard. It is surprising just how many have survived, so you have a fair chance of finding it.
Should you be so lucky, it will nicely illustrate your French family genealogy, non?
©2013 Anne Morddel